Beauty & Wellness

5 MINUTE READ

Five questions for Akash Mehta

Words by Chanelle Ho

08 December 2023

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Fable & Mane’s CEO and co-founder on self-care rituals, building a brand, and family ties.

At just 29 years old, Akash Mehta can put the following on his resumé: a successful CEO and co-founder. TEDx speaker. LVMH board member. Forbes 30 Under 30 alum. UNICEF Global Guardian. Also an investor, podcast host, content creator, and former manager at Estée Lauder Companies and Dior Beauty. Within minutes of speaking with him, it all makes sense. 

Mehta's current focus is Fable & Mane, the brand he co-founded with his sister, Nikita. Launched in 2020, Fable & Mane is a hair wellness brand that perfectly marries the 5,000-year-old medicinal system of Ayurveda with modern, innovative formulas.

'Through all of my endeavours as an entrepreneur, I'm most proud of Fable & Mane,' Mehta says. 'It's more than just a hair care brand that I share with my sister; it's an homage to my parents, grandparents, and the generations of wisdom passed down through them.'

It was touching to hear that the brand launched in the same year that his grandmother, or 'Nani' as he calls her, passed away. 'Fable & Mane is about celebrating your roots (both culturally and literally), beauty from the inside-out, self-love and love for all that live on our planet,' says Mehta. 'We formulate with carefully considered ingredients – all vegan, cruelty-free and silicone-free, and Nikita and I have a trust called The Fable Fund, dedicated to protecting the lives and habitats of wild tigers and big cats in Asia and Africa.' 

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So far, the sibling power duo has donated over $120,000 to the fund, provided over 50 local communities with education and training to reduce human-wildlife conflict, and built solar-panelled water holes. 'I'm planning my end-of-year trip to either India or Namibia to do more wildlife conservation work,' he says.

This is another trip on a list of many: Mehta is always travelling. Last month, the sibling duo hosted their first Diwali party in Los Angeles with Never Have I Ever actress Richa Moorjani. Then, he hopped over to Boston to speak at Harvard Business School at the Retail & Luxury Goods Conference. He's also been to New York, Marrakech, and Kathmandu. 

Today, we're in his London office. His shelves are lined with multiple Fable & Mane awards and Lego models and puzzle books – which I learn are his downtime hobbies – and he's speaking to me while walking on his desk treadmill in preparation for his next big adventure to the Everest Base Camp. Luckily, he has time for just five questions… 

Can you share a personal story that inspired the creation of Fable & Mane?

When Nikita and I were children, our Nani would visit us from India and tell us magical stories of India's rich animal and plant kingdom while giving us the most relaxing and loving champi (Indian head massage). Niki, my mum, my Nani, and I would sit in a hair-oiling train and massage each other's heads while listening to these stories, mixed in with snippets of wisdom she'd picked up throughout her life or through our grandpa, a spiritual healer. 

During a time of stress, I experienced stress-induced hair loss. Niki and I couldn't find an Ayurvedic hair oil blend as potent as our Nani's that worked for our lifestyles. Traditionally, hair oiling blends are thick, pungent, and take hours to make. We decided to create a lightweight formula that is pleasurable to use and suitable for all hair types and textures. Thus, our signature HoliRoots Hair Oil was born! It's the perfect pre-wash treatment for healthier, stronger and more hydrated hair growth.

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How did your journey and background influence the brand's mission and values?

Growing up, I didn't feel like I truly belonged. There were many moments during my life, whether at school, at work or watching films and TV, that I didn't see South Asian people championed as much as I felt they should be. This was magnified going into the beauty world; I don't recall seeing many South Asian faces on beauty campaigns or in the windows of Selfridges or Sephora. I wanted to make the most of this gap in the market and create a brand that celebrated my roots and the wonders of Ayurveda. 

When we approached Sephora, I couldn't believe how excited they were to launch us. We ended up being the first Ayurvedic hair brand to launch in Sephora. But my main goal isn't to be the first and only – it's to be the first of many more. The desire to champion South Asians, combined with cherished childhood memories of my Nani and her moments of wisdom, is truly the driving force behind the brand.

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Fable & Mane beautifully blends Ayurvedic traditions with modern beauty. How do you navigate the fine line between preserving cultural authenticity and adapting to global beauty trends?

It sounds simple, but it takes away the line and becomes easy to adapt. If you're being truly authentic to yourself, you don't have to worry about adapting. That's the one thing we've done at Fable & Mane – be unapologetically ourselves and celebrate our heritage. We don't think about confinements, rules, or boxes to tick. In every market that carries Fable & Mane, we have the same language and the same message and always communicate what we believe in. 

I must give credit to our formulas, too. While we do use Ayurvedic ingredients such as ashwagandha, turmeric, castor oil, and amla, our formulas were made with the modern, everyday consumer in mind. They are lightweight, easy to use, and create a luxurious experience. The magnificent Francois Demachy, Dior's former House Perfumer, created our exquisite fragrance blends. 

You describe Fable & Mane as a hair wellness brand and encourage customers to use your products as part of a self-care ritual. What daily rituals do you practice to maintain a balanced mind and body? 

I practise several Ayurvedic rituals in my life and ensure everything is done with intention. In the morning, I use a copper tongue scraper, which helps decongest the tongue, remove toxins, and promote a happy gut. I sip on warm lemon and water for its antioxidants before eating or drinking anything and do face yoga. 

In the evening, I oil my hair before I sleep with the Fable & Mane HoliRoots Hair Oil, give myself a champi, and do some stretches. One thing I've learned from leading the life of a busy CEO and founder is to do micro-rituals. I'm not always perfectly disciplined with when and where I do them; I just make sure I squeeze them into my routine when I can! Sometimes, I'll do a short meditation between Zoom meetings or take calls while on a nature walk. 

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You're a seasoned globetrotter. Where's your favourite place to visit, and what would you do if you only had 24 hours there?

Tokyo, Japan. I'd go to Akihabara first – it's a colourful, electric paradise where you can play arcade games and a hotspot for anime and manga. I'd take a walk in Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo's most beautiful green places and a must during sakura season. 

One of the best parts about being in Tokyo is that you will always find great food no matter where you go! My favourites are T's Tantan for the best ramen, Ain Soph. Journey Shinjuku is a delicious plant-based restaurant that does amazing fluffy Japanese pancakes, and Marbre Vegan for the best vegan cakes you will ever taste.

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