At first glance, soft-spoken and petite Sri Anantha Valli would strike you as a regular teenager. However, this could not be further from the truth.
Sri Anantha, 17, founded Asriana Arts, where she markets her own drawings as well as natural handmade skincare products and cosmetics. She started the business three years ago, just selling her artwork, and only recently added health and beauty products to her range of items.
“I was three when I began drawing but was only motivated to start selling my artwork, at age 14, by my mother’s friends. Their encouragement made me realise my potential,” she said. At the time, she was a student in Form 2 at SMK (P) Sri Aman, in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Browsing Asriana Arts, one will come across her various works of art, like Egyptian drawings, watercolour paintings, acrylic paintings and fashion illustrations. Custom-ers can also request customised drawings.
Although cosmetics and beauty products came later, they now play a prominent role in her business model.
“My favourite subject in school was Chemistry,” she said.
Sri has always been interested in make-up, but learning about chemicals inspired her to invent her own skincare product; her first invention was a simple sugar-and-salt scrub.
Her aunt is her inspiration. “She showed me how to make natural shampoo that is free from parabens, sulphur and silicates – ingredients that are potentially harmful to your scalp. It was then that I realised how easy the whole process actually was.”
When Sri was in Form 4, her school held a science exhibition; she was motivated to create something new. So she made foundation using the zinc oxide found in the lab and natural substances like cocoa powder, coffee, essential oils and clay. It was a hit among the visitors that day – and it opened doors for her business.
“I often brought samples of my products to school, for my friends to try. I would then take their comments into consideration as I worked on improving the products for public consumption,” said Sri.
Since then, she has expanded her range of products to include facial and foot scrubs, face masks, bath bombs, non-toxic eyeliner (made from activated charcoal), lip gloss, lip balm and body lotion. All her products are made from natural and healthy components. For example, citric acid, used in her body scrub, acts as a natural preservative as well as exfoliates the skin, giving it a glowing appearance.
Now that she has completed secondary schooling, Sri has more time to focus on Asriana Arts and diversifying her products. “I started small by taking orders and selling my artwork and products on the online marketplace Carousell. I even have my own website (asrianaarts.my-free.website) now!” she said.
Age is not a hurdle to Sri Anantha, who believes that anyone with a positive mindset and determination can succeed.
“It is tough to compete with the more experienced entrepreneurs out there but nothing is impossible because where there is a will, there is a way,” she added.
As for the future, she plans to establish her own fashion and cosmetics line, following in the footsteps of her icons Rihanna and Kylie Jenner. She aims to create safer and less invasive beauty products that will reduce harmful effects on sensitive skin.
“At the moment, I am doing research on the effects of nanoparticles on the skin. Studies show that they prevent harmful ultraviolet radiation from penetrating and damaging our skin,” said Sri.
Besides that, she hopes her artistic abilities will continue to thrive alongside her pursuits in the health and beauty line. “Drawing will always be a passion and I will continue to provide my drawing services to customers.”