#VocalForLocal: The Brains Behind Beauty in India
The beauty industry is helmed by many boss women who have paved the way for big, bold moves. From cosmetics to skincare, these female founders have made their mark in the world of entrepreneurship and beauty. We spoke to four such Indian entrepreneurs on their journey, struggles and how to keep it real.
Meet Asha Jindal Khaitan and Sukriti Jindal Khaitan, Co-founders of ASA Beauty, a clean-beauty brand.
What inspired you to start asa Beauty?
My mother-in-law and I, both come from a natural living and wellness background. She grew up in the nurturing environment of Jindal Naturecure Institute and I am an Integrative Health Coach who grew up in Hong Kong and studied in NYC. Owing to little or no regulation in the market, a lot of the ingredients and processes used by beauty brands can harm the consumer, as well as our planet. We recognized this gap in the Indian market; to bring global standards of makeup products to the Indian consumer and thus, asa Beauty was born. asa is more than a brand, it is a process of adapting clean and natural choices in everyday life and giving back to oneself and the planet. We truly believe that brands and people can make a positive impact on the world we live in.
What would you advice new entrepreneurs to navigate through the clutter?
It is imperative to have a clear vision and purpose. Consumer awareness about product formulation and ingredients has increased tremendously and so brands have to be even more clear about their offerings and understand their consumers’ needs to be able to fulfil that.
What are some struggles you faced while bringing asa’s products to life?
Launching a brand amidst the pandemic was a challenging task in itself, as we had to change our approach and adapt to a digital-medium only. However, in our attempt to bring our product to life for consumers, we are utilizing the advancements of technology and reaching a wider audience.
The process of creating aluminium casings and refills adds its own challenges. It’s easy to pick up ready-made packaging from vendors, however to create the system we wanted, we had to visualize and create our branded packaging from scratch.
Meet Karishma Kewalramani, founder of FAE Beauty, a brand that focuses on real, authentic and unfiltered products for Indian skin.
What is the story behind founding FAE Beauty?
After living and working away from India for 5+ years, I moved back home to realise that the market for diverse skin tones in a country filled deeper toned individuals was surprisingly undercatered to. It seemed difficult to find affordable make up and skin care for deeper skin toned individuals, and diversity and inclusion seemed like just marketing buzzwords instead of ethos by which brands built their product portfolio. I decided there was a significant enough gap in the market that needed to be addressed.
Beauty/skin tips you implement yourself?
I always double cleanse, and make sure to switch up my skin care routine often enough such that my skin doesn’t get too used to a particular product (which sometimes causes a plateau in visible benefits).
I also like to keep it really minimalistic during work to allow my skin to breathe a little extra - just some lipstick, and brash!
What, about the industry, would you wish to be different?
I wish there was a more robust community of individuals building d2c brands - its a bumpy ride, and it would certainly help to have a community/sounding board of individuals who are experiencing similar ups and downs!
Meet Prasanthy Gurugubelli, founder of Daughter Earth
How did you, an engineer working with the Indian Navy, venture out into homegrown beauty?
I’d say the story of Daughter Earth has its roots from my very first job - to integrate mission-critical systems onboard India’s first nuclear submarine and to make it ready for the launch. The entire country took pride in engineering what is called the most complex machine in the world, right here in India.
When we set out on this adventure called Daughter Earth, my vision was to create the most rigorously researched and scientifically formulated skincare with plant-based bioactives, right here in India. If you ask why beauty and wellness? It was more out of a personal need where I wanted to create formulas for my sensitive skin, and as I started leading a more conscious living, trying to build a brand in the wellness category was a more natural transition. Coming from a science and analytical background, that's how I built Daughter Earth too - creating formulas grounded in science.
What would you tell budding beauty entrepreneurs?
Own your vibe and do not compare your journey with others. Have patience. You don’t have to fit in with the accepted norms of the market, follow your heart and develop your instinct.
Any struggles you faced in your entrepreneurial journey?
I wouldn’t say struggles, let’s say challenges. Sustaining the business in the first two years, then growing it into a thriving brand during the pandemic where odds were stacked against us, building company culture of trust and camaraderie that talks science, not trends - these I’d say were the broad challenges. The most challenging part is, according to me, accepting that you as an entrepreneur are a human too, and like everyone else you can have downtime and that’s alright.
Meet Vasundhara Patni, founder of Kiro Beauty, a clean beauty makeup brand.
Favorite part of being a beauty entrepreneur?
While the entire process has been thrilling for me, art, design, creativity, and playing with colours have always been my sources of inspiration. So, my favourite aspect of being a beauty entrepreneur has been constantly innovating new hues and designs for our products.
Any words of wisdom for new entrepreneurs in the business?
Being a beauty entrepreneur comes with its own set of challenges. One of my main pieces of advice is to define your USP by establishing your product's distinctiveness. This will assist you to understand many aspects of your brand's product.
Also, conducting market research is essential for understanding and determining the market gap that must be filled. A quality check is important; one must not compromise on quality if you’re in it for the long haul; your product needs to speak for itself. Build a team that you trust and that believes in your brand as much as you do. Having beauty junkies on your team is always a plus point!
What is your personal philosophy for skincare routines?
Since the beginning, I have believed that less is more. One should always have their skincare/beauty routine simple but consistent. Being conscious of what you put on and put into your body is essential. With so many skincare and beauty products and regimens on the market, it is important to understand what works best for your skin. One thing I would always recommend is to keep yourself and your skin hydrated.
Any soft skills you are still working on?
Time management. When you multitask, you have your head in several places, attempting to fulfil numerous tasks. So, managing time through all the tasks has been challenging. We are a small team, and some days everyone does everything, from the tiniest jobs to the most complex projects.