HOW DALLAS WOMEN DO IT — Women have a knack for making everything look easy. In our “How Dallas Women Do It” series, we tap our city’s most aspirational female founders for a closer look at their routines, inspirations, and how they work to maintain that elusive balance. Today, Kiku Chaudhuri of Shaz & Kiks is on deck.
For Kiku Chaudhuri, the principles of Ayurveda represent both a deep intention of caring for herself and a rich reminder of her family and the Indian culture. After spending her adult years far from the centuries-old rituals of her family, Kiku and her sister, Shaz, wanted to find a way to bring those ancient Indian rituals into today’s mainstream beauty space — for all hair. The first product for their Texas-based beauty brand Shaz & Kiks, was a creamy, nutrient-dense pre-wash formulated to mimic the luxurious tradition of hair oiling without the slick mess.
The sisters’ products have since earned shoutouts in Allure, Vogue, and New York Magazine, while Shaz and Kiks’ With Love, India Moringa Oil was listed among “Best Beauty Products of 2021” in Harper’s Bazaar.
Chaudhuri talks with PaperCity about her inspirations, the best spot for horchata in the city, and the caraway seeds she soaks in water every single day.
PaperCity: Tell us the story of Shaz and Kiks.
Kiku Chaudhuri: Shaz and I are first-generation Indian Americans, and our parents are immigrants from India. We were born and primarily raised here in the US, although we did live abroad for several years in our childhood! We spent all of our childhood summers back in India — our family is from the foothills of the Himalayas, this wonderful, magical place. We had the great fortune of really learning Ayurveda, which is the world’s oldest healing system and originates from the Indian subcontinent. It can be layered, but the overall kind of philosophy is harnessing the power of Earth’s natural ingredients to holistically take care of your body.
There’s a lot of science that backs up these natural ingredients. We would sit down on our grandmother’s terrace and massage these in these beautiful beauty products into our skin and our hair and our face and bodies, and say, this can nourish our bodies and nourish our souls.
Fast forward to us being adults and having our busy adult corporate lives, and we had less and less of the opportunity to experience those kinds of rituals — especially these ingredients and products. But, when we would go back and visit our parents in Houston, my mom would also make a lot of them and bring a lot of the products back from India when she would go visit. And, when we would use those, we would really feel our best, especially in our hair — and the art of taking care of your hair is an inherent part of Indian culture. Having long, lush, thick hair is something that we’ve been taught to take care of from the time that we were little, and it’s as important if not even more than your skin and your face. That’s what Shaz & Kiks was really born out of.
PC: What is one of your favorite aspects of the Shaz & Kiks brand?
KC: There are all these amazing Indian ingredients that have not come over to this side of the world. We’ve seen turmeric blow up, but there are like 50 other turmeric-type ingredients that really are still kind of unknown to outside the South Asian region and the diaspora. And so we wanted to bring accessibility to that, and transparency of how we source, and then also wanted to pay homage to these ingredients. A lot of times these ingredients have been used outside of South Asian communities, but the stories and the attribution of them have really been lost.
We really wanted to bring integrity, and we wanted to source them directly from small Indian sustainable farming communities so we can really support these communities that have created these types of ingredients for centuries. We also wanted to pay them fairly and get the highest quality of these ingredients. And then, also, create these wonderful hair care products.
PC: As a beauty start-up founder, how do you balance your mental and physical health?
KC: I’m the only full-time person in the company. My sister is my partner but she still has a full-time job and does this on the side. So it’s a lot. We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been really well received, and we have wonderful, loyal customers. Overall, we really expect wonderful growth. And we’re very appreciative and very excited about that. But, with that comes more and more work.
One of the things that I personally do goes back to these kinds of Ayurvedic concepts I saw my grandmother and the other women in our families do. It’s really creating these “rooted rituals” every single day. Rituals are a very big part of Indian culture, and we very much believe in the repetition of something that gives you joy or takes care of you every single day. And everything kind of goes back to being preventative.
So every single morning, I wake up at the same exact time, and I think that’s really important. Even on the weekends, I wake up at the same time, and at 6:30 am is when we have a nice moment. I always wake up, and I’ll do my little morning bathroom routine, and then I work out. Maybe I go to SculptHouse, or do a workout at home, or go for an outside jog, but I always find time to move. For me, the best time for that is early in the morning.
After that, I drink a ton of three different types of water. As the day progresses, there are different types of things that your body needs, and infusing it with your water is really great. The first one is a warm lemon water, which really helps flush things out. That comes from my Ayurveda upbringing. The second glass of water I have is where I soak warm water with caraway seeds and ginger. That is really good for your digestion — it helps break down your digestive enzymes, so it’s really great to sip on that. For the third glass, I keep those seeds, add cold water, and put mint in it.
Before I start work after my workout, I will always sit and meditate. And sometimes it’s like five to 10 minutes. Some days are better than others. I’ll use the Wim Hof breathwork practice, sometimes I’ll do the Calm app, and sometimes just put on some Indian sitar music — just whatever I’m in the mood for.
In my evening routine, I always take a nice, steaming hot shower with eucalyptus, and put on soothing music. All these things really help me wind down. It makes every night feel special, even if it’s only a Tuesday.
PC: What advice would you give to Dallas women?
KC: When I’m feeling frustrated or a little fearful or taking the next step in my life, I always say ‘you gotta risk it to get the biscuit.’ I know, it’s not the Dalai Lama, but I think it’s a fun phrase. And I think it encompasses a lot of different things — don’t lean into your fear, have faith in yourself, take a little bit of risk. I think taking a little bit of risk in life and putting aside whatever we’re fearful of can really, always help us move forward in whatever decision.
OK, let’s have a little fun…
PC: What’s your go-to Dallas coffee order?
KC: From Xamàn Café — it is absolutely one of those hidden gems. The horchata is amazing, but honestly, anything is from there.
PC: What’s the best Dallas meal you’ve ever eaten?
KC: This is kind of an OG Dallas spot and a classic — Tei-An in the Arts District. Their omakase is amazing, and they’re one of the best restaurants in Dallas.
PC: What are your favorite local wellness spots?
KC: I’ve been really enjoying SculptHouse on Lover’s Lane. It’s a little boutique studio, half treadmill and half mega reformer — and I love that spot. They also have a cute little shop, so somehow I always end up buying things when I’m walking out and feeling really good about myself. I also love going to King Spa, the Korean spa house. I haven’t been since COVID, but love doing that — especially on a Friday morning for a slower Friday.
PC: What’s your favorite Dallas hidden gem?
KC: Xamán Café — they have a speakeasy in the back, a bar with amazing drinks that opens up at like 5 p.m., and it’s just incredible.