With handmade products and small production batches, Delhi-based Fuschia is promoting natural skincare.
Beauty is only skin deep, they say, but people are willing to do a lot for that skin. Cosmetics, toiletries, other consumer products – there’s a wide variety in the market with almost every other product in the personal care segment sporting a “natural” or “ayurvedic”. But there is no assurance that the products are what they claim to be.
That’s why Mohit Bhatia, a Delhi-based doctor, decided to enter the natural skincare market in India.
Mohit, 34, holds an MBA in healthcare management, and has experience in medico-marketing and clinical research at international pharmaceutical MNCs. His wife Dr Harsimran Kaur, a practicing ophthalmologist, and brother Paras Bhatia, 28, an engineering post graduate with professional training in digital marketing, joined him in the entrepreneurial venture.
The trio had already launched Vkare Bio Sciences, in 2012, to manufacture and sell surgical instruments.
Since setting up an entire new chain was a tedious task in India, they opened Fuschia - a brand dedicated to natural, handmade skincare products – under VKare in 2013.
Yes to natural skincare
Harsimran is the creative mind at Fuschia, Mohit is the CEO, and Paras is the Head of Operations and Marketing.
Mohit feels the ever-growing demand for and existing confusion about “natural skincare” have been strategically exploited by lot of labels.
“Just adding the label of natural, herbal, ayurvedic doesn’t make it so. Having studied the never-ending market of skincare products in India and abroad we realised that most labels were fraught with harsh chemicals. It’s what led Fuschia to promote ‘natural skincare’ as products essentially free of SLS, Parabens, Phthalates, mineral oils, synthetic colours and fragrances,” he says.
Fuschia’s target audience is people who believe in and understand the concept of natural skincare. Starting with 10 varieties of natural, handmade soaps, they have expanded to more than 50 today, and have a range of skincare that includes day cream, anti-ageing night cream, and body bath.
They also sell stethoscopes, rehabilitation aids like ankle binders, thermometers etc. under VKare brand on their website.
The Fuschia Business model
Since their products are handmade, production batches are small – this ensures that the products reach customers in their freshest form.
Mohit explains, “We keep minimum things in ready stock. It’s the demand that regulates batch sizes. This ensures the freshness of the product.”
Fuschia endeavours to provide customers the best for their skin and at the same time contribute towards saving the ecosystem from harsh chemicals.
Currently a self-funded organisation, Fuschia works with more than 100 ecommerce portals, including Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Roposo, Snapdeal, and Smytten. Their own e-commerce store myfuschia.com has pan-India coverage. They also collaborate with subscription boxes and a few retail stores.
Mohit adds, “In case of direct online sales, the timeline between production to delivery may vary between a week to months; our delivery timeline from warehouse to customer varies between 2-7 days.”
Challenges to be tackled
Being a team of medicos, manufacturing skincare products was not their forte. Even researching on production of such a range was a challenge.
Mohit recollects, “With great efforts and a lot of technical support from people associated with the field, we started off with this humongous task of setting up Fuschia. It was not an easy job to sell a new skincare brand in this very competitive market, especially to customers with ample knowledge and affinity to existing big names in the industry. When it came to marketing and promotion, paucity of funds stood in the way.”
Fuschia - a family-owned company - was started with the family’s savings. They continue to be bootstrapped as the team believes that having the reins of your business in your hands gives you an edge.
“However, if we do get angel investors we would be keen to have a look as it could assist us in scaling up quickly,” Mohit adds.
Being based in Delhi has been advantageous and disadvantageous for Fuschia. On the manufacturing part, availability of raw materials, equipment, and skilled workers is a lot easier. But at the same time, Mohit says, government regulations are not friendly at certain steps; they can be rather stringent when compared to SEZs.
On the benefits side, Mohit adds, “When it comes to clientele, you have a large section to target, which is positive, but there is neck- and-neck competition with others in the same segment. It’s easier to get noticed as a bulk supplier sitting right in the capital city. Also, you tend to be a part of various events that happen round the year, as a participant as well as audience. In nutshell, the benefits of being based in Delhi outweigh the odds.”
Profitable since day 1
According to Mohit, Fuschia, a team of eight (including the founders), has grown more than 100 per cent YoY since launch.
“Our current GMV is Rs 47 lakh and we are eyeing more than Rs 1 crore for 2018. We are profitable. Our unit economics have been positive from Day 1,” he says.
Monthly, Fuschia sells more than 2,000 units, with an average basket size of Rs.400.
“As the ingredients we use are high priced for the quality we strive for, our products are a little pricier than most commercial brands. We believe in making products for people who swear by our quality and go on to become a loyal clientele. Our products cost from Rs 250 to Rs 1,250,” Mohit says.
Fuschia’s target audience is anyone who will read the list of ingredients and not just see the tag of “herbal/natural/ayurvedic” before picking up a product. Currently their clientele falls in the 20-40 age group.
A growing market
But the Fuschia mission was well worth the effort.
According to research firm Transparency Market Research, the global organic personal care products market will be worth $15,693.7 million by 2020, and will be led by the skincare segment.
Thanks to disposable income and increased awareness, Indian consumers are now more conscious of their health and beauty choices, and there is a growing demand for chemical-free skincare products.
According to ASSOCHAM, the Indian market for beauty, cosmetics and grooming will touch $20 billion dollars by 2025 from the current level of $6.5 billion.
ASSOCHAM has also found that over 68 percent of young adults feel that using grooming products boost their confidence. About 62 percent of young consumers in big cities prefer to buy beauty and grooming products online.
“Though there are giants in the industry whom we can’t beat when it comes to presence, pricing and popularity, our biggest competitor is ourselves. We are our own critics and this is something that drives us to do better every day,” Mohit says.
Add to this, the growing reach of e-commerce, and Fuschia has got a bright and colourful future.