#HomegrownEdit: Women Entrepreneurs Behind High-Performing Beauty Brands

Nov 28, 2021, 15:09 IST

Business

The Indian beauty industry has changed, and for good. While most of us still gush over international brands entering the Indian market, the share that homegrown brands owned and led by strong women has captured in recent years is huge. Each brand – in skincare, makeup, beauty tools or wellness – is backed by a specific experience that gave birth to a high-performing range of products that suits one and all. Mindful formulations, effective and safe ingredients, sustainable packaging, environment-friendly practices, and an inclusive ethos form the core values for most of these brands, especially the new ones. What do they bring to the table that appeals to the masses and to young consumers today? It’s freedom; these brands are constantly trying to break age-old, stereotypical beauty standards, and it is this that appeals to informed and conscious consumers.

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Asha and Sukriti Jindal Khaitan, asa Beauty
With multi-purpose products and sustainable packaging, asa offers luxury cosmetics that are clean and more than 92 per cent natural. The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law duo wanted to put their global learnings to good use. “We want to awaken women to clean beauty solutions, to look, feel and do good with natural, cruelty-free makeup,” says Sukriti, who is a certified integrative nutrition health coach. The brand also offers a ‘Refillable Programme’ in order to minimise waste and carbon footprints. “One can simply get a refill, ensuring that a completely new product does not have to be purchased time and again,” explains Asha. The brand offers long-lasting pigmented products with skin-loving ingredients.


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Karishma Kewalramani, FAE Beauty
After studying and working in the USA for a few years, Karishma Kewalramani found a gap in the beauty industry when she returned to India. “I found that the beauty companies were only using representation as a marketing stunt, instead of truly embodying the idea of inclusivity into the DNA of their brands,” she says. Having been brought up in a family of entrepreneurs, she decided to found FAE – Free And Equal – with the mission to bring innovative, inclusive, transparent products to the market. “These aren’t trends but the DNA of our brand,” she adds. While all the products are multi-functional and high performing, BRASH is the hero product of the range. A dual-purpose product that doubles up as mascara and brow filler, it comes with a versatile formula and can be built up according to need.


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Tanisha Varalwar, Tsara
Launched in 2020, Tsara is the brainchild of 24-year-old, Hyderabad-based chemical engineer Tanisha Varalwar. An amalgamation of traditional Indian formulations backed by a sustainable ethos, Tsara is developed specifically for Indian skin tones, which is what makes it attractive to the ‘online generation’. “We always saw brands that were organic and natural to have a dainty visual identity, so, with Tsara, we wanted to break this stereotype and create our own visual identity that involved a lot of fun colours,” says Varalwar. Formulated with 90 per cent organic and natural ingredients, the brand’s hero product is its recently-launched 100 per cent biodegradable makeup sponge called Gen G, which is made of corn, water, natural preservatives, natural pigments and bionanopol. It also comes with a 100 per cent cotton mesh bag in which to store the blender in order to prevent bacterial growth and accumulation of dust on it.


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Nikita Deshpande, Ilana
After making small batches of skin-loving and effective skincare products in her kitchen, Nikita Deshpande decided to take the plunge and found Ilana, offering products that are ethically innovative, accessible and affordable. A design graduate, co-founder Deshpande wanted to bring to the market a brand that is innovative, transparent and sustainable. “Back in 2016, while attending a sustainability workshop in college, I tried decoding the labels of products, and, to my dismay, it was just impossible,” she recalls. “The complex names and claims made me question everything I was using.” The formulations of Ilana products are simple and effective and blend easily with the skin tone. The brand’s hero product is its Soft Blur Cream Concealer and Foundation. “It blends so well, and adapts to any similar skin tone without making your skin look very cakey,” Deshpande says. “Extremely dewy and with SPF 50, it ticks all the boxes.”


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Namrata Soni, Simply Nam 
A much-sought-after celebrity makeup artist, Namrata Soni decided to use her everyday learnings for a greater good with her newly-launched brand, Simply Nam. “It was never about putting products that already exist into the market; instead it was about allowing me to really work on the products that I believe we are missing, that we want and need in the Indian market,” says Soni. She launched the brand with a makeup remover towel – a microfibre cloth – in order to reduce the waste that ends up in landfills and also to make makeup removal a simple process that doesn’t leave the skin inflamed or agitated. “It’s sustainable to the extent that you can use it for up to four or five years and a thousand machine washes. You really cut down on spending on conventional makeup removers that harm your skin and have a lot of chemicals,” she adds. A vegan and clean beauty brand, Simply Nam has recently launched its first set of weightless, hydrating and comfortable lipsticks in six shades.


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Bianca Louzado, Code Beauty 
Taking hygiene in beauty one notch higher, celebrated makeup artist Bianca Louzado has founded Code Beauty, a brand that offers sanitising solutions to keep makeup and beauty tools bacteria-free in the kit. Code has a range of uniquely-formulated cosmetic sanitisers, brush-and-sponge cleansing soaps, and anti-bacterial wipes to ensure that your makeup always feels safe. “In addition to that, we have launched eco-conscious bamboo mascara and lip wands that can be used to avoid cross contamination and double dipping,” says Louzado. A double major in food technology, Louzado founded her brand in the midst of the pandemic with three products. Providing an innovative sanitising solution for cosmetics, Code’s Charcoal and Orange Oil – a brush- and beauty blender-cleansing soap – is a gamechanger. “It is called ‘The Awakening’,” Louzado adds. “I felt there was a need for everyone to own a product that instantly gets rid of stubborn makeup on brushes and beauty blenders and one that is vegan, sulphate-, phthalate-, and cruelty-free.


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Vibhuti Arora, House of Beauty 
Brainchild of face yoga expert Vibhuti Arora, House of Beauty combines wellness with beauty to cater to current needs. Harnessing her expertise in yoga and her knowledge of the benefits of natural skincare, Arora’s brand offers products that are kind to the skin, including skin-loving face oils and a unique offering called face cups that help in lymphatic drainage and collagen production. “The brand also focuses on internal health; if your internal health is good, your skin, your eyes, and your face will glow on the outside,” explains Arora. While House of Beauty has some unique offerings, its practices set it apart from others in the similar space. “We teach everyone the right application of the products in terms of how, when, and where to apply and how much quantity to take,” she adds. “Our skincare line comes with a QR code that has personal face yoga tutorials with me.” The brand is also set to bring out India’s own eight-step skincare routine as opposed to K-beauty’s much-hyped 10-step regimen.


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Sonya Khubchandani de Castelbajac, ALASA
Founded by Indo-French entrepreneur Sonya Khubchandani de Castelbajac, the homegrown fragrance brand ALASA takes its inspiration from Indian culture and its long-standing connections with the world of perfumery. Inspired by the epic poems and masterpieces of court literature and art in India, ALASA works on fragrance through detailed storytelling. “Notes and accords are based on the noble Indian raw materials, woven through iconic illustrated love stories,” she says. “The concept that came together felt natural and true.” The brand has launched its first collection called LOVE with four variants that takes inspiration from love stories deep rooted in our culture; it sets out to change the narrative around perfumery in India and make it more personal and accessible.

Also Read: Women Entrepreneurs Doing Cool Things in the Indian Beauty Industry