The Sweetest Eyes: Kulfi Beauty Aiming At Global South-Asian Representation

Dec 2, 2021, 17:02 IST

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The rise and popularity of Kulfi Beauty bears testimony to how its 34-year-old founder from Delhi, Priyanka Ganjoo, navigated her way in he rise and popularity of Kulfi Beauty bears testimony to how its 34-year-old founder from Delhi, Priyanka Ganjoo, navigated her way in see ourselves represented or celebrated in beauty.” Coupled with her years of experience working in the beauty industry (including with companies such as Estée Lauder and Ipsy) abroad, Ganjoo realised the gap in the industry – a lack of representation of the diaspora. As a result, Kulfi was born early this year. “Kulfi was the result of my journey of rediscovering the joy in makeup for myself and reclaiming my beauty for myself and wanting to create that space for more of us who never saw our younger selves in beauty,” she says. Ganjoo decided to launch the brand with eye pencils  in five different shades ranging from classic terracotta to electric purple. She believes that kajal makes for an integral part of not just our vanity but also our culture “and yet no one has reimagined what kajal could be for our generation. I found in my consumer research that kajal was that one beauty product everyone had in their makeup kit, across genders, age, and identities,” she explains.

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Kulfi Beauty was launched with its first-ever campaign called ‘Nazar No More’ with an aim to reinvent the idea that kajal is only used to ward off the evil eye. “With our campaign, we want to share that kajal can be used for more than that – as a way to express ourselves and express our beauty,” she adds. But why ‘Kulfi’, we wonder? For anyone who has her eye out on South Asian beauty brands, ‘Kulfi’ sounds rather unique and not something we automatically associate beauty with. “I want our beauty routines to be touched with the joy you felt when you found a kulfiwala and ate sweet treats with your friends,” explains Ganjoo. More than that, ‘Kulfi’ also signifies the creamy texture and colourfulness of the products. “We’re innovating on texture and colour  in our products and bringing the fun to our packaging design,” she adds. that finds its roots in Indian culture has been a rewarding experience for Ganjoo, she faced a set of challenges in doing so. Though its kajal quickly became a cult product, it wasn’t an easy start for Kulfi. “Fundraising was a very discouraging experience because most investors didn’t understand the global opportunity,” says Ganjoo. She was dissuaded from creating a community that understands and celebrates South-Asian beauty in its true self. She says, “I was told South-Asian beauty is not aspirational. I always thought, if I were white, would I be asked the same questions?”
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Ganjoo wasn’t willing to accept the status quo and decided to challenge Eurocentric ideals by building a community in which people feel comfortable expressing themselves freely. From taking an inclusive approach with her marketing campaign to systematic planning of South-Asian representation, Kulfi explores beauty in a truly global sense. “Our mission is to create a much-deserved space in beauty for the South Asian community at a global scale. We want to empower our community to define beauty through their own gaze and to challenge Eurocentric and patriarchal ideas of beauty,” she affirms. With Kulfi’s first campaign, Ganjoo decided on choosing models who showcase the diversity within the South Asian community.

The core value of the brand means to evoke self-confidence. Whether it’s the shade names of Kulfi eyeliners or finding a cause to support, the brand focuses on embracing the diversity within the community. “In line with our brand ethos, we wanted the names of the liners to be unapologetically South Asian,” says Ganjoo. Through Kulfi, Ganjoo also supports mental health organisations. “Self-expression is closely tied to mental health. However, conversations around mental health are often suppressed in our communities. We want to support mental health organisations as we grow,” she adds.


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While building  a brand outside India Ganjoo did most of the research  and development for the products during the lockdown. Testing shades and textures, developing products, sourcing material, deciding on packaging, and distributing the final product across channels wasn’t a small feat. While it has been a joyful journey for her until now, it’s a long path to cover for the industry as a whole.
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“We need more inclusive brands with diverse ownership so that more of us can see ourselves in beauty in front of and behind the scenes. We need more sustainable materials and ethical production in the beauty supply chain,” Ganjoo points out. When asked about future prospects, Ganjoo excitedly talks about launching concealers next – something that she’s been working on for almost two years now. “A truly inclusive complexion range is the biggest unmet need for us; we’ve all gone through products that made us look ashy or orange. We’ve tested it on hundreds of South Asian women and it’s the dreamiest formula ever,” she concludes gleefully.

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