Akanksha Sharma, the brilliant mind behind CITTA, is revolutionizing the baby care industry with her unwavering commitment to providing safe and reliable products for little ones. In this exclusive interview, she shares the story behind the brand's inception, her dedication to excellence, and the vision for CITTA's future.

1. What motivated you to start Citta and combine tradition with scientific backing in your childcare products?

When I was studying in the U.S, my mom and grandma used to call and check up on me regularly, like most Indian moms, and offer their advice in the form of ‘nuskhe’ — drink turmeric milk before you sleep for healthy skin, use rosewater when you’re out in the sun, oil your hair with coconut oil before you wash them! This was their way of caring for me even though we were a thousand miles apart. These ‘nuskhe’ are based on Indian traditions and ingredients that we Indians have been using for thousands of years, it is time-tested wisdom that works! I wanted everyone to experience this love and care that I was fortunate enough to experience.
Deshi 'Nuskhe' to a Natural and Toxic - Free Baby care Brand - CITTA

Also, around the same time, a famous baby care brand came under fire for using unsafe ingredients in their baby powder. It was a big deal, I knew so many friends and family back in India who were loyal to that brand and using this product for their babies! This incident gave me and my mom the final push to create a safer brand for babies, and that is how we started CITTA.

With CITTA, our aim was to create products that were rooted in Indian traditions but backed by science in terms of safety and efficacy. As a parent, you take advice from friends, family, experts, and doctors — and only then make any decision for your baby, especially when it is about their health. We wanted CITTA to be the options parents could completely rely on for their child’s skin health. We are bridging the gap between tradition and science to give parents the best of both worlds.

2. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your recently launched digital campaign, #BabiesCantMakeRightChoiceButYouCan?

The tagline says it all! Babies really cannot make the right choices — they will happily eat dirt if left on their own, right? But parents — they are the ones who can consciously make good choices for their babies. Through this ad campaign, we wanted to tell parents how choosing CITTA would be the right choice for their child’s skincare. Our products are made with the highest quality natural ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals like talc, parabens, sulphates, mineral oils, allergens, and toxins. They are dermatologically tested and approved to assure safety and quality, and every parent should choose wholesome, safe wellness for their baby.

3. How do Citta products specifically cater to the needs of children from 0 to 10 years old and even teenagers?

CITTA products are designed to be safe for newborns — the ones with the most sensitive skin. And what is safe for a newborn’s skin is safe for everyone! Our products are formulated after a lot of research to create that perfect blend of tradition and science that is nurturing, safe, and effective at the same time. We keep out all the toxic ingredients and formulate our products to tackle various skincare issues at their root level — which makes them suitable for newborns, babies, kids, and teenagers as well because they will continue to solve those issues regardless of age. For example, our Moisturizing Balm solves skin dryness with its unique oil-based zero-water formula, and it works just as well for a baby’s dry skin as for an adult’s. I use it all the time in the office when I have dry hands!

Deshi 'Nuskhe' to a Natural and Toxic - Free Baby care Brand - CITTA

4. Could you share some examples of how your products have made a positive impact on the well-being of children and teenagers, as highlighted in the testimonials?

Our skin is the largest organ of our body, and yet little attention is paid to it. Most of us only get around to following a good skincare routine in adulthood, and by that time, there’s a high possibility that a lot of damage has already been done – either by environmental stressors like the sun and pollution or because of medical skin conditions. We have created CITTA so that it can be a good skincare companion for people from the very start of their lives, simply so that they can have better skin since childhood itself. Babies and kids who are using CITTA will grow up with healthier skin, and that I think is one of our biggest positive impacts. 

Also, as I mentioned earlier, my mother’s and grandmothers’ nuskhe helped me stay connected with my rich Indian heritage and traditions. And every child who uses CITTA products gets to experience the same through our products. CITTA is a way of passing on the love of dadi-nanis to every child.  

5. What are the key principles and standards that guide the selection and sourcing of the natural ingredients used in Citta products?

We follow the highest standards when it comes to the quality and safety of our products. Our ingredients are Eco-Cert, COSMOS, and FDA certified. They are ethically sourced from reputed vendors and manufactured in hygienic environments that adhere to the Good Manufacturing Practice standards. And of course, we are a cruelty-free brand, like all brands should be. 

6. How do you ensure that your products meet the highest standards of quality while maintaining a balance between tradition and scientific advancements?

As I mentioned, we follow the highest standards for assuring the quality and safety of our products. There are multiple quality checks that every product formulation undergoes before it is out in the market for use on a baby’s delicate skin. No parent should ever have to compromise on their baby’s skincare, and we work hard to achieve that. Our products are formulated after researching the best traditional practices across India that have proved to be effective for thousands of years. Then we combine that with the expertise of doctors and create innovative and safe formulations that are the best of both worlds. Time-tested natural ingredients and safe, high-quality naturally-derived ingredients that science demands. Our products are dermatologist approved. 

7. Can you provide some insights into the creative process behind developing your product range, keeping in mind the diverse needs of children in different age groups?

We try to look at ingredients holistically, as our grandmothers did. No natural ingredient has just a single benefit — there’s always more. For example, coconut oil is nourishing for skin and hair, but at the same time, it is also anti-bacterial and can prevent skin irritation. So while choosing ingredients, we look at how one ingredient can cater to multiple skin issues, skin types, and age as well. Efficacy and safety are the two parameters that we follow while developing our product formulas. 

8. How do you incorporate love and care into the formulation and production of Citta products?

We believe it is our duty to provide genuine care and love to every child, we believe every child deserves the nourishing care of a grandma. We try to provide that by creating product formulas that remind us of our dadi-nani’s nuskhe. Read our product labels and you will find familiar Indian ingredients like turmeric, coconut, almond, and aloe vera instead of any foreign, unfamiliar ones. It is our way to care for your baby’s skin like their grandma would. We also try to make our products as convenient as possible for new parents — they are already doing so much, and we want to take at least one worry off their chest. Also, we list all our ingredients on our product labels, because our care is also honest. We have nothing to hide. 

9. What are some of the challenges you have faced in the childcare industry, and how has Citta overcome them?

Gaining the trust of parents is the hardest task — they are the most discerning audience ever! But we support that — parents being conscious of everything they choose for their baby. Slowly, through our products’ efficacy, we have managed to gain the trust of a few thousand parents across India now, and we are only growing. Educating people about our ingredients and their effectiveness is not easy. (Read more here) There are many preconceived notions and misinformation that get in the way, and we are on a mission to right those wrongs, if I may say so. We are doing this by working with doctors to make people aware of our products and their effectiveness and safety. Educating doctors about our products and the research undertaken to create them has been crucial to building people’s trust in our brand and creating demand for our products in offline stores.

10. How do you envision the future growth and development of Citta, both in terms of product range and market presence?

We plan to enter more states through General Trade and Modern Trade channels both. We also want to reach more and more doctors across India and educate them about our products. We are already working on that. We want to establish ourselves as the leading Baby Bath & Skincare brand in India and also enter the international market. We believe our Indian roots and philosophy can help us carve a unique niche in the market, Indian and international both. When more people start believing in our brand ethos of bottling traditions backed by science, we will be able to get into the adult skincare market as well. We would like to explore the women’s beauty segment and also open experiential stores across India in the future.