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Lisa Mattam launched Sahajan, a line of clean beauty products, in 2015.SUPPLIED

One day in 2012, Toronto-based Lisa Mattam came home to find her then-three-year-old daughter playing with her skincare products. She had smeared her mom’s creams on her face and arms super thick, as kids do.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what are all the ingredients in my skincare going to do to your young, beautiful skin?’” Mattam says.

As a distraction, she gave the toddler bottles of Ayurvedic skincare products her parents had recently brought back for her from India, which she felt confident wouldn’t damage her daughter’s skin. Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that originated in India 5,000 years ago and Ayurvedic products use natural ingredients such as herbs to treat and nourish skin. After Mattam gave her daughter the bottles, she started thinking about what her expensive creams and serums might be doing to her own body.

“I thought, ‘Okay, if my skincare isn’t good enough for her, then it also isn’t good enough for me,’” she says.

A beauty business is born

Mattam’s background is in pharmaceutical marketing. By the time her daughter was trying out her skincare, she’d pivoted to consulting, but becoming an entrepreneur was never on her radar. That all changed when she realized other people might be interested in what Ayurveda skincare offered: safe, healthy products that actually worked.

Mattam says clean beauty – cosmetics and skincare products that are chemical-free – and Ayurveda wasn’t really on anyone’s radar in North America at the time. But her gut told her a skincare line that leaned on thousands of years of Ayurveda traditions while also offering science-backed evidence would resonate with customers. So, she went all in.

“I took a really rigorous, due diligence approach,” she says. “I hired a chemist... I paid for lab space and he was literally at the lab bench creating the first five formulations. We also worked with two Ayurvedic doctors in India.”

The result was Sahajan, a line of clean beauty products that launched in 2015.

The company immediately made a splash; Mattam’s products were in the gift bags at that year’s Toronto International Film Festival and soon landed features in the pages of fashion and beauty magazines in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. The company was one of the first in the clean beauty space to invest in third-party clinical trials; within a couple of years, there were two clinical trials that demonstrated Sahajan’s most popular products – Nourish Crème Riche and Radiance Face Serum – worked as advertised.

Since then, the company inked deals with a roster of retail partners, starting with Credo, a U.S. chain that has been described as “the Sephora of clean beauty,” followed by The Detox Market, Well.ca, Hudson’s Bay, The Shopping Channel and most recently JW Marriott, which will place Sahajan products in rooms at Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, St. Regis and W Hotels around the world.

The right tools to help a small business grow

At the end of 2023, the company secured funding from several venture capital firms as well as from Lululemon executive Celeste Burgoyne, actor Yvonne Strahovski and author and poet Rupi Kaur. This infusion of cash will be instrumental in growing the company. According to the 2023 Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index Annual Report, “funding is needed for growth above all.” In Canada, 37 per cent of small businesses use investment funding and/or loans to grow their companies.

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Mattam says backend operations are a super important part of her beauty business.SUPPLIED

But that doesn’t come without challenges – which is why Mattam relies on QuickBooks Advanced to help grow her business.

“It can give me a real-time view of what my business is looking like in the moment,” she says. “But QuickBooks doesn’t just show what the sales are. It tells me what my expenses are right now, it tells me what my profit is, it tells me what my profit margin is. I can instantaneously get a snapshot of where my business is at any moment in time.”

She admits backend operations might not be sexy, but it’s a super important part of reaching her ultimate mission of bringing knowledge about Sahajan and Ayurveda to the masses.

“I have a background in business, but I haven’t been the finance person, so that has often been a pain point in and of itself,” she says. “But it’s so important to be able to manage the finances, inventory, profit margins. You need to understand the financial vision of the company.”

Another recent deal will bring Mattam one step closer to that goal: Sahajan is preparing for its Sephora launch, which is scheduled for March 19.

“That’s probably my biggest excitement right now. And my biggest trepidation! But it’s really the most unique opportunity for us.”

Are you a Canadian business fuelled by passion and purpose? Share your business’s ‘big why’ on Instagram and TikTok using the #SmallBizBigWhy for a chance to be featured by Intuit QuickBooks.


Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with QuickBooks. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

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