After finishing school, she went straight to NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), Bombay to study fashion design. Eight months into the program, she realized that she could not be doing fashion designing all her life and so decided to take a bold step and dropped out of the program. Though this decision was not appreciated by many in her circle, she stood by it and made herself a promise-
I will only ever give my time to things that I really believe in and am truly passionate about.
“I have lived by that philosophy ever since,” says Shagun Sharma, the Founder of Hedonista, a venture that specialises in handmade, all-natural and cruelty-free sustainable luxury products. According to her, Hedonista is about gourmet luxury – beauty products that are sumptuous and all-natural but with specialised path-breaking formulations and fragrances.
To never lose sight of her goal and to remind herself to never give up, Shagun even has Hedonista logo tattooed on her arm.
About two years ago, Shagun started making traditional, cold-process soap as she found the products available in the market very uninteresting. She took the work seriously and started creating formulations and digging deeper into techniques and ingredients to perfect the craft. The response she received from friends about texture, fragrance etc. was all the validation she needed. “I realised that there could exist a market in skincare that was beyond the clinical or Ayurvedic — a market for luxurious and indulgent, environmentally sustainable bath and body products. And hence, Hedonista was born.”
Based out of Delhi, she was born and educated there. After her schooling from Delhi Public School, Noida, she studied English (Hons) from Miranda House at Delhi University. This was followed by an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management in Pune.
Over the course of her career she has worked with Mahindra and Mahindra, Hindustan Times and Future Brands. She has managed brands at various stages in their growth journey. Her work experience with brands has helped her close in on the understanding of the female consumer, her aspirations, needs and motivations.
Shagun says that being an entrepreneur is not as glamorous as it may appear. “In reality, it is a whole lot of pulling up your sleeves and not just getting your hands dirty, but having them constantly dirty, from the minute one takes the plunge.”
From being the one-woman army who manages everything–from being a product champion and innovator, to managing production teams at a factory, identifying the exact gap in the market and creating a brand to fill it, creating business plans and figuring out where next month’s working capital is going to come from–it is all a massive challenge that Shagun has taken up.
As an entrepreneur one is always on ones toes. Shagun shares, “Dealing with all of this requires an incredible amount of patience to start with, because it is truly surprising how the smallest of things become entire big projects in themselves and one ends up doing things one never ever imagined would be a part of starting up and would take up disproportionate amount of one’s time. One can’t help but become an expert on all aspects of business – be it logistics, brand identity, legal or administrative.”
The one important learning for Shagun has been that most issues can be resolved using common sense and everything can be resolved, one just needs to find the right way.
However, her biggest challenge at each juncture has been about time. She says, “What to spend my time on versus what to spend my money on is the dilemma. Basically, striking the balance between outsourcing and managing things myself. As an entrepreneur, my time becomes my biggest resource and I need to figure out how to spend it wisely and how to spend it best.”
Shagun wants to go capture the global markets with her Made in India products. She wants to cater to the whole idea of beauty ritual being indulgent, decadent and a luxurious experience that makes the individual feel pampered, joyous and beautiful. Along with the website she is also setting up retail distribution through premium stores and high end spas, salons and hotels and exploring new channels for distributing products. She adds, “We are also in the process of working out a distribution network in South-East Asia as we foresee that to be a big market for Hedonista.”