Starting out with a blog and then curated beauty boxes, for the co-founders of Vya Naturals, manufacturing skincare products was a natural extension.
At a glance
Startup: Vya Naturals
Founders: Bindu Sharma, Hans Vivek, and Kavita Joshi Rai
Year it was founded: 2017
Where is it based: Delhi
The problem it solves: Vya Naturals offers natural skincare products to address specific concerns as opposed to skin type.
Sector: Beauty and skincare
Funding raised: Seed funding of $200,000
Launched in May 2017, Vya Naturals is a Delhi-based beauty and skincare brand that is looking to create a niche in the cluttered marketplace, not only in India but also abroad, thanks to its presence in the beauty and skincare business.
Bindu Sharma, Hans Vivek, and Kavita Joshi Rai, prior to founding Vya Naturals, were running a beauty subscription box business, a skincare blog and a Youtube channel that published weekly videos on beauty and skincare.
Their efforts tilted towards creating a community that cared about having healthy skin and sought someone to understand their concerns.
“Our approach to consumers was based on being interactive, as opposed to being directive. Our blog stories, as well as our weekly videos, were inspired by topics about which our subscribers wanted more information,” says Bindu.
Vya Naturals offers a range of products such as face scrubs, handmade soaps, toners, moisturisers, serums, face washes, and body butter, among others. “We make sure that we source the finest natural ingredients that are not only safe and non-toxic but also effective. Our formulations are original, created by us, and tested on people, not animals,” she says.
Vya Naturals caters to consumers worldwide through its website, as well as through product listings on Amazon in the US, UK and in India. In terms of offline presence, the brand is available at two brick and mortar retailers - Marshalls and Winners in Canada.
The seeds of the company were sown in March 2014, when the three co-founders started off with curating beauty boxes – MSM Box. Besides curated beauty boxes, a new one every month, they also published a blog focused on researching and reviewing skincare and beauty products from many Indian and international brands.
“We started with content creation and consumer engagement, and then moved on to channelising all that energy and minefield of data into product creation,” adds Bindu.
Due to their interactions with thousands of subscribers who wrote in on a daily basis, Bindu says they got significant insight into what consumers were looking for, and what their primary concerns were.
The trio realised there was a gap in the marketplace as women often chose natural skincare products based on skin concerns as opposed to their skin type, helping them ideate the launch of the natural skincare brand – Vya Naturals.
The three co-founders have varied backgrounds in retail operations, buying, and merchandising, as well as product research and development.
Prior to Vya Naturals and MSM Box, Bindu was a retail professional with over 15 years of experience and worked with brands such as PepsiCo, KitchenAid, Westside, and Oma. She also launched World One Consulting, a global consulting firm, focused on helping businesses grow in the retail and consumer goods sector.
Hans is a graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology Delhi. An operations professional and digital enthusiast, Hans has worked with French Connections, and headed the digital marketing team at World One Consulting. Kavita’s experience in the retail sector spans over a decade and a half across four countries and with such as Nike. She is also an independent consultant and director of World One Consulting.
The Forbes magazine highlights that global sales in the skincare segment, the biggest segment in the beauty industry, are expected to cross $130 billion by 2019. The Indian market is crowded with established natural skincare brands like Lotus Herbals, Blossom Kocchar’s Aroma Magic, Biotique, Forest Essentials, The Body Shop, and FabIndia, among others.
Vya Naturals, which started retail operations less than a year ago, is focused on establishing a strong presence among consumers and is not concentrating on the competition.
“Our basic premise is that we are serious about skincare while also continuing our outreach and connection with our consumers. We take the best traditional ingredients and incorporate them into more contemporary formulations,” highlights Bindu.
In terms of production, Vya Naturals products are manufactured in Kerala and Karnataka in the south, and Delhi-NCR and Uttarakhand in North India. To deliver on its promise of infusing solely natural ingredients, the brand follows Canadian and EU FDA standards, which prohibits use of around 1500 ingredients that can possibly cause harm to the skin.
Vya Naturals started retail operations in May 2017 with seed funding of $200,000 and is today backed by a 12-member team. Bindu points out that since inception, the brand has witnessed a 200 percent month-on-month growth.
“Our target is to achieve revenues of Rs 5 crore at the end of 12 months of operations,” she adds.
The company’s revenue model is a mix of online and offline operations. Going ahead, it plans to focus on expanding retail presence, both offline and online. Currently, the brand has 12 stock keeping units, and plans to expand this to 25 this year. The Indian beauty market, with its 15-20 percent annual growth rate, will continue to be a focus for us, says Bindu.