Weathering the recession with India herbs
In August 2008, Julie Solomon of Holbrook and Sharvani Srinivas of Smithtown -- who ran an executive recruiting company in Melville -- panicked as the economy soured. Few people were being hired, and more were being laid off.
"Things were so bad we were on the brink of closing our business," said Solomon.
What to do? How about a trip to India? Solomon and Srinivas packed their bags and headed for Mumbai. They investigated businesses in what is widely regarded as one of the largest growing markets in the world. They nixed scrap metal and importing plastic forks and knives.
Finally, they came across the enormously popular herbal supplements industry.
Now they and Bharathi Nelanuthala of Glen Cove, are partners in Herbal Destination in Huntington Station.
Solomon and Srinivas still run the recruiting company, Corporate Hiring Solutions, which shares a building with Herbal Destination. But they hope the herbal business takes off.
The products -- Snooze, a sleep aid; ArthOpt, a muscle and joint support; and Turmeric, which promotes immune function -- are made in India by a 100-year-old company that has 45 percent of the herbal supplement market in that country.
Shaker Nelanuthala, Herbal Destination's sales director and Bharathi Nelanuthala's husband, said the company is not allowed to make medical claims for its products. "We are not promoting this as a drug," he said. "It's a supplement."
What sets Herbal Destination's products apart, the partners say, is that most are clearly identified with a specific condition, such as CardiOpt, for promoting heart function.
Herbal Destination has just gotten started, and the products are in some local stores. The company is talking with national distributors, and there is a website, herbaldestination.com.
In the United States, the supplements are in the form of soft gels and tablets, unlike in India, where they are pastes, liquids and powder. "Those are yucky to Americans," said Nelanuthala.