Meet the woman entrepreneur who wants you to embrace an organic and cruelty-free skincare routine
How often have you thought long and hard about what the tub of cream, tube of moisturiser, or bottle of serum that’s part of your daily skincare routine contains?
A number of commercial skincare products contain synthetic chemicals that have adverse effects on skin and the environment, a fact that most of us aren’t even aware of.
Continuous and consistent research on the subject prompted Shivani Kapur to start Mirah Belle Naturals in 2017 to offer cruelty-free, organic skincare products to a discerning market.
She explains, “The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found the carcinogen (1,4-dioxane) in 28 percent of all personal care products. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) found the same chemical in more than 40 percent of products labelled ‘natural’. This includes shampoos, soaps, and body firming, and anti-ageing lotions.”
Identifying a gap in the market
Shivani calls herself “a writer at heart, an engineer by qualification, and a soap-crafter by profession”. For the first 12 years of her life, she worked at Rico Auto Industries, being part of the promoters’ family, learning all about manufacturing ferrous and aluminum components. She is also no stranger to the startup world, having been part of the founding team of Octan Media and GoOnions.com.
In 2015, someone close to her was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “One of the theories doing the rounds at that time was that asbestos present in talcum powder could have been a probable cause. She was advised to strictly use only organic products during her treatment. The doctors rejected reputed Indian brands, stressing that the products should be sulphate- and paraben-free. Repeated requests to friends and relatives to carry back certified products from the US was turning out to be infeasible,” Shivani says.
“It was then that I identified a gap in the market, for certified organic products which were affordable,” she says.
Shivani started Mirah Belle in 2017 with cold processed handmade soaps using exotic ingredients like goat’s milk, coconut milk, fresh avocados, sea buckthorn, calendula, chamomile, patchouli, lavender, rose, tea tree, and various other ingredients to address various skin related issues.
Mirah Belle now has 32 certified and licensed handmade soaps, which address multiple skin-related issues like dryness, flakiness, acne, pigmentation, inflammation, sensitive skin, mature skin, etc.
“In addition, we have several other product lines like face creams, face oils, hair oils, body oils, salves, face washes, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, serums, elixirs, lotions, and body butters, which address several skin and hair-related issues. In all, Mirah Belle manufactures and markets 160 SKUs presently,” she says.
Certified and tested many times over
The products are manufactured at its facility in Gurugram, according to Indian skin specifications and standards. All products are formulated and manufactured by in-house chemists, and the facility, which also houses a R&D centre, is licensed by the Haryana Drugs & Cosmetics Department.
The Mirah Belle products are certified by ITC Labs (government approved NABL Lab) against sulphate, parabens, and heavy metals. The products also undergo approximately 40 tests in-house as well as externally that authenticate them as organic. They are also PETA-certified.
Shivani says that in India, due to severe weather conditions and pollution, the skin brightening range and the anti-hair fall range of products work the best.
Mirah Belle is present on over 40 ecommerce platforms in India – Mirahbelle.com (website and app), Nykaa, Smytten, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, PayTM, Shopclues, Big Basket, Myntra, 1mg, Daily Ninja, Medicalwale, Planteves, Qtrove, Engrave, Jibril, Ayurshakha, Wudbox, Silkrute, Retail Pharma, Shop 101, Navvi, On a Healthy Note, Taaza taaza, etc. In India, it is also present in over 100 retail counters in multiple cities.
Internationally, the brand has recently tied up with Amazon (the US, Canada, and Mexico), Sourus, Range.me, and Etsy.
“Our differentiator is that we position ourselves as a safe brand that stays clear of carcinogenic compounds in formulations. Our products benefit customers with persistent skin and hair-related issues. We also aim to do away with plastic packaging towards glass and bamboo,” Shivani says.
Shivani invested Rs 5 crore to cover plant and machinery, lab equipment, product research and development, licences, certifications, trials, sampling, marketing, and talent. The startup had a top line of Rs 6 lakh in FY18, clocked Rs 2.28 crore in FY19, and is on course to deliver a top line of Rs 8 crore in FY20.
Partnering with the original Shark
Shivani and Mirah Belle notched another feather in their cap by partnering with Kevin Harrington, American entrepreneur, an original “shark” on the hit TV show, Shark Tank, and founder of As Seen On TV.
“Mirah Belle is the first Indian brand selected by Kevin Harrington in 22 years for launch in the US. It will launch in the US through television and digital campaigns from January 2020,” Shivani said.
Shivani is also taking this opportunity to expand the brand’s presence in the domestic market and raise venture capital funding.
“The fact that I am creating something, which is not only good for me but for people at large, drives me to take on innumerable challenges. I wake up every day with the objective of ensuring people are made aware of the hazards of chemically synthesised personal care products,” Shivani says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)