#NTPeople: Preeti Shroff

Nature Therapy is a space of solace for the modern woman. It is a line of carefully created and curated range of products that imbibes the concept of #everydayluxury for women. Preeti Shroff fits right into our realm.

This woman is an enigma. She exudes charm, love and a vivacious laughter that rings through corridors – Preeti is a sheer delight to be around. Always dressed impeccably in conscious textiles, handcrafted jewellery and an inner glow that simply radiates. Her vibes are filled with positivity, conversations have intellect, laced with humour and almost always centers around questions such as: how can we better the world? How can we uplift the community? How can we make more positive changes? Her commendable work in the field of education, sustainable development, social enterprise, women’s leadership, culture and design innovations and countless achievements are there for all to see – but not many know the hard work that goes behind these creative and education initiatives. She travels non-stop around the world for global and community initiatives – she discovers and explores new mediums for education, encourages cross-cultural programs and has a phone book that perhaps rivals that of a UN diplomat! She meets and engages with people from all walks of life – and keeps in touch years after.

Preeti ranks pretty high up there, yet when she met me – a newbie to the world – she held my eye and conversation for hours, asking questions about me, my life and my work. Months later, she remembered, and continued with follow up questions. I was touched beyond belief. Her interest is always genuine.

Today, I got to ask the questions, and am truly humbled by her honest answers. Preeti integrates her mother’s homemade routines, sticks to natural ingredients and really takes the time out to indulge in herself with the bounty of nature. What touched me were her comments on the pressures on women today – and how important it is to address them. Underneath the vivacious personality, is a vulnerable, soft-hearted woman who enjoys her space and would love nothing more than take a book and read under a tree. And – she travels with hand luggage only!!

The simplicity of her nature and kindness reflects into her self-care rituals and this in turn, brings that beautiful glow and aura she carries.

Read on to hear her beautiful perspective on life, travel and inspirations, and her views for the #WomenOnTheGo:

Tell us your relationship with skincare and how it has evolved over time.

I have always worked with international organisations and ongoing travel around the world does make it difficult to follow skincare routine regularly. However, now my lovely “young” daughter reminds me of the need to look after myself and spend more time on spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health. While traveling around the world, especially learning from indigenous cultures gives so much meaning, however, it also impacts health due to long-distance travels. Skincare routines and natural products that can be used while traveling is always helpful.  

I firmly believe that spending time in nature, reducing stress and anxieties of daily lives are critical to finding inner peace and positivity, ultimately caring for body and skin. Internal beauty will inevitably reflect outside. Above all, optimism and positive spirit are critical - follow your passion, be creative, address problems in collaborative ways, and make sure to find your silent moments to reflect and learn, detach from negativity, and maintain your inner peace! For me - this is daily yoga for the heart, mind and body!

Natural and herbal products such as Nature Therapy, as well as homemade ‘Grandma and Mom’s Secret’ natural spices and plants therapy is my preference for skin and body care. I have also understood the connect between growing and cooking fresh food and eating fresh produce for skin care. Simply joys of life.

What’s your current morning and evening skincare routine?

My earliest memory is Mom preparing besan (chickpea flour) with milk paste every Sunday morning and applying on my skin while sitting out at home on the front veranda swing, and enjoying beautiful bougainvillea colours all around. My grandmother would take over this Sunday morning routine of skincare every time she visited us from Mumbai. Drinking haldi - turmeric milk with a spoonful of homemade warm ghee is my routine even today.

My Aveda Salon hairdresser in Washington DC was from Turkey and she advised me to drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning - great for hydrating skin cells. I am passionate about lavender flowers, scent and colour, so my day begins with lavender therapy - organic soap, moisturising cream and sunscreen, once a week hot water steam therapy for face while at home does the magic for fresh skin revival!

I enjoy early morning sunrise walk and evening sunset walks. natural light and Vitamin D - critical for the skin! Evening skin routine is cleaning the face with milk cream - malai paste mask! No other products so that skin can breathe! Just before going to sleep - I do drink herbal or green tea, and apply moisturiser.

I avoid sugar and oil in food, focus on fresh vegetable and lentil soups with lemon juice, and yogurt is a must for all meals. Fresh fruit and yogurt smoothie has become a morning routine. Fresh amba haldar/pickled turmeric, green chutney with mint and cilantro is a must for homemade lunch and dinner.  

Your lifestyle includes a lot of traveling – how do you keep up with your skincare while you’re on the road?

Domestic and international travel for work is my routine, and skin care is always a challenge. I live both in India and in the US - very different regions and weather patterns! I always look for organic and natural skincare products and travel packs. Mainly because I like to carry skincare with me in the hand-luggage (many times checked in luggage does not arrive in time or does get lost).  

I always learn about nature and cultures across countries, and skin care routines and products. It is fun to understand what do people do for skin care around the world as a tradition - whether applying natural ingredients or following a particular food routine. Try out facials in different countries, places - and you will learn a lot about nature and culture. Visit farms, villages and herbal gardens - you will find many secrets!   

Do you have any travel-beauty-care tips that works wonders? (ex. For long flights or fighting jet lag fatigue skin?)

Dove and Olay Total Effect creams are the best for quick beauty care while traveling. Origins, Estee Lauder and Lancôme skin care creams, Maybelline Foundation with sunscreen - life savers when traveling for work and rushing for meetings. Do not wear any make-up for long flights especially when you sleep on the flight, just use natural moisturiser and drink a lot of water and herbal tea.   

It is vital to maintain a healthy diet with fresh and healthy foods while traveling. Avoid fried foods and alcohol while traveling for work – it is not good for skin at all! 

What is one beauty advice you give to your daughter?

My dear daughter Naomi - drink plenty of water, get proper sleep and always apply the sunscreen! And be yourself!

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Drink warm water with lemon! I have stopped looking at the iPhone especially when I wake up by 5:30 am (except for the weekends). Nature walks to listen to the birds, watering plants, dance exercise routine and quiet reading in the morning (including Print Newspaper) with music is now a priority! I’m trying hard to find the time to play tennis on the weekend.   

What’s your daily morning beverage and breakfast? 

Cereal with milk or yogurt, and a cup of masala chai! I also enjoy South Indian plates or stuffed vegetable parathas with yoghurt and green chutney. Gujarati Batata Poha with green peas (Ricepuff dish), Sabudana Vada (Sago-Tapioka pearls - baked version) and Methi Parathas (Fenugreek) are Sunday Specials!  While in Los Angeles, we walk to the farmer’s market in Beverly Hills to get ingredients for global breakfast and brunch (especially Mexican Burritos and Greek Salad)!

#WomenOnTheGo: How do you balance your work and personal life?  

Never easy especially when there is no distinction between work and personal life - ask anyone in the field of international development and education – learning all the time is a way of life. Very difficult for women to balance anything especially while raising children and family! I worry about the burden on women now - perfection is expected while managing home, children, social responsibilities, workplaces and the ridiculous “Barbie Doll looks” syndrome! It is exhausting to meet so many expectations, and not be allowed to make any mistakes.

We use natural products, how about natural women (and not plastic surgeries)? Women’s beauty should never be defined by men, nor be for male validation.   

What is critical for me is self-reliance, independence, freedom and personal space. I am a very private person despite my active travel life, public persona, hectic work and social engagements. It has taken me years to detach from “work” and find the quiet corner and moments. I am very selective about being with a very few friends and family members who respect silence, and value genuine conversations.

Taking breaks from “work life” is essential for health. Most days, 7 hours of sleep is a luxury which does magic to skin and body. Now with Corona times, work has arrived at home – a very different lifestyle and experience. I do not miss workplace commute with traffic, pollution and stress - that certainly impacts the skin!

How often can you carve out your ‘me time’ and what does it entail?

I’m working hard to protect “me time”, especially on the weekends. Weekdays are difficult except for quiet mornings and a few hours late at night. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, gardening and painting - whenever possible! The best me time often is while on a plane - at least no phone calls (nowadays internet on the plane as well :)

I crave running away to a farm here in India or in the US - urban life seems superficial and hectic at times! Gardening is the best alternative.  

Who or what inspires you in your field of work?

Children with their innocence and younger generation with their life energy. I was raised with Gandhian and Montessori learning values, and these values still guide me in my life and work. Injustices to people, children and women inspire me to act every single day.  I seek global learning, education innovations and cross-cultural collaborations.

How do you deal with setbacks?

Every difficult moment brings a deep learning experience and we grow only in pain and complexity - setbacks are the best life lessons! Comfort zones are suffocating. I never lose my “voice” while dealing with setbacks and difficult situations. We women do have our share of societal and professional challenges, and we should not lose the courage to stand up.  

What’s an advice you would like to offer other women?

Women are the future of this country and around the world. Invest in girls’ education and entrepreneurship for self-reliance and dignity. Very proud of new age and digital entrepreneurs such as Kamini Patel - wishing her the best! Hope she will continue to mentor other women. 

Website: mica.ac.in

Linkedin: @preetishroff