How The Beauty Co is carving a niche for itself in the women’s grooming industry
Coming amid challenging times, ‘Vocal for Local’ is seen as giving a major impetus to homegrown businesses and brands as well as local Apps. We at Adgully support this movement wholeheartedly, and with Startup Stars, we are featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.
In conversation with Adgully, Suraj Raj Vazirani, Founder & CEO, The Beauty Co., speaks about what motivated him to start his own venture, the difficulties faced, message for budding entrepreneurs and much more.
Please take us through your journey as an entrepreneur. What motivated you to establish your startup? What were you doing prior to turning an entrepreneur?
Brought up in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, I fell in love with e-commerce at the right time, when e-commerce was gaining momentum in India. I began working with online marketplaces and e-commerce portals for branded consumer electronics and started learning the business.
I had seen that despite the presence of countless beauty brands in the market, there were still a few crucial and untapped segments in the women’s grooming industry. I’d always wanted to create a business and brand of my own and be a part of its journey and success. After my hand at Beardo and building its brand and running the operations, I launched my own business and private label – The Beauty Co. – in 2018, in Ahmedabad. It is a premium Indian skincare and grooming brand that has a vast portfolio of products in four categories, namely Hair, Body, Skin, and Oral care.
The Beauty Co. started by launching Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder and Coffee Scrubs on Amazon, which became instant hits. Soon after, the company launched a complete range of skin and hair care products, and started selling to Nykaa, Flipkart, Amazon, BigBasket, and Paytm, among others, who, in turn, sold directly to customers. After they became hits on Amazon, the team and I decided to scale up.
I’d always aspired to be an entrepreneur, and right from the beginning of my professional journey, I was focused on learning the ropes in the business world. Since I was a teen, I have always been involved with extra-curricular activities and that led me to explore theatre acting and radio profession as well.
What need gap did you want to fulfil with your startup? What is the core business proposition?
We had realised that everyone appreciates products that pamper them with a touch of nature, and we diversified accordingly. Our tagline, #TheCareYouDeserve, completely sums up our brand philosophy of pampering every user of ours to the fullest. We do not see ourselves as just another brand that is here to offer trendy beauty products, but one that carefully curates premium offerings, sourced from the best ingredients in nature.
The Beauty Co. is a brand that aims to make its products with 100 per cent natural ingredients. The majority of our products are 99-100 per cent natural, and they are carefully crafted to suit our customers’ needs.
Today, it is one of the fastest-growing online beauty and personal care brands in India, and all the credit goes to its products with unique ideologies. Most of The Beauty Co. products are paraben-free, silicon-free and sulphate-free and all the products are cruelty-free; they contain natural ingredients that are safe and enhance the overall appearance of skin and hair, naturally. Made from natural ingredients, these products are pure, gentle, no-fuss-easy-to-use. Further, the compact packaging makes them convenient to carry everywhere.
We got the first mover advantage, pan-India, with our Coconut Shell Activated Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder, dry Coffee Scrubs, Activated Charcoal Glitter Glow Mask and our bestseller – Rose Gold Oil.
How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?
Our target audience is primarily women between the ages of 18 and 45. But our offerings are suitable for both men and women. Our customers are digital-savvy and spend time on social media, online shopping platforms and other digital activities. We use digital media, such as social media ads and influencer marketing to target them. We curate multiple videos that they can relate to, such as the right way to use the product and its outcome. We reach them through our domestic clients in the online space, such as Nykaa, Flipkart, Amazon, Big Basket, Paytm, etc., and our offline client, Nail Spa.
We learned about the feasibility of the business through our experience in the offline business and applied those learnings in the online space. We kept learning and applying it to grow and expand the business in the beauty & grooming space.
What were the challenges that you faced in your startup journey and how did you overcome them?
Our vision is to spearhead the online beauty sector with products made from 100 per cent natural ingredients. Being a bootstrapped brand, availability of capital remains the toughest issue. Building a private label, both online and offline, requires multiple resources to grow.
The business was majorly impacted with sales at an 80% low during the lockdown. Considering the products did not fall under the essential goods category, we were not able to take or ship orders for a brief period.
We used this period to focus our efforts on R&D and marketing campaigns. This period gave us time to develop new product lines as well as introspect and improvise on the existing product offerings. The marketing and communication campaigns focused on identifying an individual’s skin type, skin conditions and provided skin/ hair care tips for attaining a healthy glow at home. Collaboration with influencers, bloggers for natural ingredient awareness in The Beauty Co. products, the benefits of using these ingredients in one’s daily regimen as well as fun DIY care videos was a way of connecting with our consumers confined within their homes during the lockdown.
As far as the internal technical and marketing issues are concerned, we have had sufficient time during the lockdown to investigate and rectify them.
What were the clearances that you required for your venture from various authorities?
Depending on the nature of our business, we had to obtain several permissions and clearances that every beauty and grooming business must have. These are from various authorities such as manufacturing/ sale licensing authorities, FDA, etc.
Funds/ finance is the prime issue of almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?
The Government’s new budget is quite positive for start-ups and encouraging for the whole eco-system. Initiatives such as hassle-free loans, tax free holidays, simplification of the registration process are some active steps that are bound to benefit start-ups a great deal. Additionally, the industry can get together to extend support to each other by holding start-up fests and exhibitions.
Prime Minister Modi recently announced a Startup India Seed Fund. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?
Start-ups will definitely have a headstart in terms of funding, backing and monetisation. This positive push is a breather for ambitious upcoming businesses, and a step in the right direction for self-sustaining start-up ideas. The Seed Fund’s frameworks definitely aid with the crucial steps that make or break a start-up, such as prototype development and commercialisation. It will indeed transform the promising Indian landscape.
How is digital helping you further your business?
We started as a 100 per cent online brand and into both B2B and B2C. After finding success in selling our initial products online, we diversified into various skin and hair care products. The biggest advantage is that the digital world is not limited by geographies; hence the reach is wider which leads to more consumers and more sales.
We use digital media, such as social media ads and influencer marketing to reach our customers. We curate multiple videos that they can relate to, such as the right way to use the product and its outcome. We reach them through our partners in the online space, such as Nykaa, Flipkart, Amazon, Big Basket, Paytm, etc.
However, we are also optimistic about our next move to expand in the modern and general trade and are thrilled to enter the international markets.
What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?
We are very optimistic about 2021 as we believe that the customer of today appreciates products that deviate from your regular run of the mill offerings and see this as a time of great innovation for our brand as well as the rest of the industry, and an opportunity to further enhance and expand our already diverse product range. We expect to see a surge in sales as the country swiftly recovers from the pandemic, and have observed that due to the lockdown, missing out on shopping experiences has led customers to actively make purchases and re-stock their shelves. We are all set to take the market by storm again with our upcoming range of products and see a limitless sky! We are optimistic that our determination combined with the resilience of the industry will prove promising in the future to come.
What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to go for your dreams, albeit by taking smart little practical steps in the right direction. Taking the time to truly understand the market needs of your potential offering makes all the difference in the world. Business is a very unpredictable domain, but the only thing that remains constant is building something that can transform lives, because that is bound to boom.