Meet Sonia Chhinji, TL Insider’s Resident Wellness Advisor for November

Meet Sonia Chhinji, TL Insider’s Resident Wellness Advisor for November

When it comes to beauty and wellness, clean, natural and plant-based products are becoming a preferred choice of consumers. Amid the new normal, people are recognizing the importance of self-care and overall well-being more than ever and are leaning toward clean and natural alternatives. Packed with multiple benefits, all-natural products offer wholesome goodness for both the body and mind.

At Toronto Life, we’re celebrating TL Insider’s November wellness advisor Sonia Chhinji, co-owner of Woodlot. Driven by ambition and inspired by traditional recipes, Sonia and her partner, Fouad Farraj, focus on clean, all-natural, plant-based products. From candles and soaps to skincare and incense, the range uses quality ingredients that are sure to nourish your mind and body. We caught up with Sonia for a Q&A in which she shared the inspiration behind the products, the advantage of all-natural ingredients, and more.

How did Woodlot come about?

Woodlot came into being five and a half years ago. What started as a hobby turned into a business idea while we were making handmade soaps in the comfort of our kitchen.

What was the inspiration?

Fouad had this amazing family recipe, and we decided to experiment with it. During one such experiment, we grew conscious of the ingredients, and the quest to find premium, clean and natural products began. While researching, I found out there were not many brands offering an all-natural range for overall lifestyle wellness. One thing led to another, and Woodlot was founded with a passion for entrepreneurship. The business started from home and we expanded our operations soon after.

How has that journey gone?

Our products are inspired by family recipes and traditions, and we started off by making handmade soaps and candles at home. Air-cured candles take about six to eight weeks to make, so it wasn’t really viable to sell them commercially. Soon after, we learned about various ingredients and what works best for the process. On researching, we found that a lot of candles are made with petroleum and lead wicks, and that they’re loaded with fragrances. Thereafter, our journey to making clean and natural products started. Initially, we sold candles and soaps, but with the increase in demand, we introduced more products and expanded our business. With great ambition came great responsibilities, and we started targeting beauty and lifestyle products.

Has the pandemic caused any operational changes?

Business before Covid-19 was about working with retailers from across the globe. Unfortunately, boutiques didn’t qualify as essential businesses, and they were shut down. While some adapted to the new normal by moving business online, others made a few changes and worked around restrictions, such as limited intake in stores. With the shift, we also saw a change in the buying pattern—more people were shopping online. Our retailers stood strong, from big chains to small. Other than that, we saw changes including delay in shipment and more safety protocols. In these unprecedented times, we’re staying positive and hope for more growth. Adapting quickly is key!

Tell us something about the skincare range.

With the growth curve, our ambition was to create a lifestyle brand with all sorts of products, from incense, mists and facial oil to candles, sprays and more. The inspiration behind the skincare range was to work with more complex ingredients and create natural, clean beauty products. Our products are made of high-quality ingredients that focus on the overall well-being and nourishment of the skin. We do not believe in claims! We believe that beauty rituals should be packed with wellness and simplicity. Imagine a mother passing down the products to her teenage daughter because she trusts an all-natural skincare brand. It’s not just about beauty, it’s more about overall wellness.

How important is skincare in a wellness ritual?

It’s great to have a ritual, be it beauty or health. We thrive on rituals! We’re programmed in such a way that we do our best when we know what’s in store for us. I feel it’s a privilege to have products for rituals. Something as simple as burning incense or breathing can be a ritual and help enhance your quality of life. As for beauty, rituals should be fulfilling and easy to follow. People should take time for themselves and do what makes them feel good. Personally, I love mixing masks and letting the aromas of tea and the mask work their calming magic.

What are the three essential products everybody should try from Woodlot?

Recharge soap bar, rose and palo santo mist and facial oil.

What significant changes can be expected from using plant-based, clean and natural products?

Plant-based, clean and natural products focus on overall nourishment and health. There are no added preservatives or synthetic chemicals that irritate the skin or leave harmful effects. With each batch comes variations, and products may differ in color or fragrance. Another thing about natural products is that they have a shorter shelf life. Overall, people notice a considerable difference after using natural products, and there is no going back. I have been using all-natural handmade soaps for over a decade now and have noticed a drastic difference in my skin.

What is the holy-grail product from the skincare range?

The nourishing facial toner! It is filled with the goodness of rose water and hyaluronic acid.

When did you know it was time for expansion?

Essential oils came naturally to us. We use them in our products such as soaps and candles, and customers kept asking us to sell them as essential oils and mists.

Woodlot is a participating as part of the TL Insider Virtual Fireside Chat Series. Anything special Woodlot will be offering to our members?

There is a 20 per cent off site-side offer, excluding gift sets and AMOUR collection products.

While every product in this article is independently selected (and genuinely loved) by Toronto Life’s membership team, purchasing one through these links may earn us a commission.