[Startup Bharat] How this Bhopal-based personal care brand raked in Rs 20 lakh despite the pandemic
Before western products manufactured in labs and packed with chemicals made it to our houses, Indian grandmothers used to depend on home remedies and kitchen gardens for their skincare regime. However, after years of haul on chemical products, we have gradually started valuing the skincare lessons of our grandmothers.
A report by RedSeer states that the Indian beauty and personal care market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9 percent between 2017 and 2020, and is expected to reach $23 billion by 2022. Of this, approximately 17 percent will be generated by natural and organic products, Research and Markets state.
Tapping this huge market opportunity is Bhopal-based Mystique Earth. The natural skin, body and hair care brand has ventured out of the tribal lands of Madhya Pradesh — Satpura, Vindhya, and Mahadeo — to capture the essence of herbs, flowers, metals, minerals, and clay.
Founded in 2018 by mother-son duo Manjula and Gaurav Tiwari, Mystique Earth offers natural personal care products. The startup has been selling products on its website since February 2020.
Inspired by the alchemy
“The startup was a long-cherished dream,” Gaurav tells YourStory. Growing up around Maheshwar, Sanchi and the Central Plateau of India, Gaurav was always enchanted by the art, culture and local tribes of central India.
His interest in natural ingredients was piqued by his mother and grandmother, Damyanti Tiwari. “I remember drinking kadas (herbal decoctions), tulsi swarasa and other home-made remedies in forms of powders and pastes prepared by my grandmother,” Gaurav recalls.
Inspired by the traditions of tribal alchemy, Gaurav founded Mystique Earth, along with his mother. “The brand is inspired by the natural flora, fauna and mineral deposits,” he says.
Gaurav is a Computer Science Engineer by profession and completed his MTech from Rajeev Gandhi Technical University in Bhopal, in 2014. Afterwards, he went on to work as a Business Analyst at Deloitte, post which, Gaurav joined his family business, Mansarovar Group of Institutions, which has a dental, ayurvedic, nursing and paramedical colleges, a CBSE-affiliated school, and an university under its umbrella. Along with his father, KK Tiwari, Gaurav instituted the Sri Sai Institute of Ayurvedic Research and Medicine in 2017, offering Bachelor of Medical Sciences course under the Central Council of Indian Medicine. Finally, he followed his passion for Ayurveda and founded Mystique Earth in 2018.
Currently, the team has 10 employees of botanists, formulators, and doctors.
The personal-care business
Mystique Earth functions through six departments — research and development (R&D), design, marketing and PR, sales, fulfilment centre, and logistics.
Gaurav says that the R&D department is the most important and expensive part of building Mystique Earth. Once the products are developed, the startup has an in-house dedicated design cell to apply the brand’s inspiration and theme in its primary and secondary packaging, posters, banners, corrugated boxes, and even adhesive tapes.
The Marketing and PR teams ensure that the products are placed in the right market and targeted to potential customers. The sales team, on the other hand, manages the demands and grievances. Mystique Earth has its fulfilment centre in Bhopal, and this is where the packaging and delivery are taken care of. The startup has tied up with third-party service providers for logistics support.
“Initially, during the lockdown, we faced challenges in terms of maintaining the supply chain, raw material procurement, and deliveries. However, we overcame it through planning, patience, and observance,” Gaurav says.
Mystique Earth is targeting customers from 18 years and above, irrespective of their gender. The bootstrapped startup currently offers products under three broad segments — skincare, body care, and hair care. The prices of Mystique Earth's products start from Rs 549.
Mystique Earth’s products are currently available on its website and through Amazon. The brand acquired its first set of customers after the launch of the website in February, this year. Despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, the startup was able to record growth of up to 80 percent since March.
In the first quarter itself, Mystique Earth recorded gross revenue of Rs 20 lakh. “It has now scaled up and we are expecting to cross the target revenue of Rs 1 crore by FY2020-21,” Gaurav says.
The startup’s average month-on-month rise in revenue is about 7.5 percent.
Market overview and road ahead
A report by Statista suggests that the revenue in the natural cosmetics segment amounts to $803.8 million in 2020. Other players operating in this segment include Kama Ayurveda, Forest Essentials, SOVA, Mamaearth, and Juicy Chemistry, among others.
However, Gaurav believes that his startup has a unique USP to offer. He says, “It took us and our team approximately two years to curate natural products which had a feasible shelf life and an appealing visual identity. Our in-depth research and development process sets us apart.”
Going ahead, Mystique Earth is planning to expand its product line and add more products to its portfolio.
Edited by Kanishk Singh