Why this woman entrepreneur decided to start up in the luxury bath and beauty business
Mansi Chowdhary is a Chartered Accountant by education, with a flair for business. The 34-year-old entrepreneur was running her own patisserie and helping her husband in his business before she decided to launch Body Cupid, a luxury bath and beauty brand, in 2017.
Business was not new to her, having been raised in a family of entrepreneurs and later being married to one.
Business as a calling
“I have always been interested in running my own business and recognised it as a career call at a very early age. My education and subsequent experience in business prepared me to start up on my own. My educational background has helped me understand the finance part of the business, which can be tricky in a startup. Since I have an understanding of starting and running a business that requires high consumer-connect, I was able to develop this brand and give it the right direction,” she says.
However, the idea for Body Cupid came during her constant travels. She noticed how consumers were increasingly looking for nature-based, chemical-free, sustainable beauty and wellness products. The trend was catching up in India as well, and Mansi noticed that here was a gap in the market and consumers would love a nature-based and artificial ingredients-free products that evoked a sense of luxury.
Body Cupid was launched after a year of extensive research on formulation and sampling.
“We focus on body care through lush body washes, body lotions, and rich body butters; haircare has innovative keratin range of shampoos and conditioners, and fragrance for both men and women. Our products are manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory in the Himalayan region. We source the best of actives and use them to develop our products. After all, Body Cupid is all about luxury, ultimate pampering, and pleasure,” says Mansi.
To reach the maximum number of customers, she launched the products online almost two years ago. Initially, she says, it took some time for the sales to pick up. Mansi says, their digital marketing efforts and positive customer reviews led to an upsurge in sales.
She has also ensured that the packaging is minimalist and has an international feel to it. “Our products not only look good but leave you feeling better. I found the name Body Cupid very catchy and sounding luxurious. It brings forth the idea that you should love yourself, your skin, and your body completely,” she adds.
The Body Cupid range of products are completely nature-based and are free of harmful additives like parabens, sulphates, mineral oil or artificial colours.
“One can say that every beauty care product is a competition, but the market is big, and consumers are ready to experiment with new products and beauty care experience. So, there is enough share of the market for every brand to do good business, as long as you keep your brand promise and focus on customer experience.”
Body Cupid products are currently available with all major online retailers, with prices ranging from Rs 299 to Rs 899.
Gender bias still exists
Mansi bootstrapped the startup with an investment of Rs 2 crore from her personal funds, and it is seeing revenues of Rs 6 crore at present.
As with any brand, the initial growth and brand recognition was slow, says Mansi.
“We had to work very hard to make the brand known to our consumers. Over the last three years, we have worked relentlessly on improving our products, understanding the consumer’s needs better, and creating brand awareness. We continued to push into the market with a belief in our brand and our products. That worked for us. However, patience is a virtue truly, and it has paid off.”
Mansi also believes it’s difficult being a woman entrepreneur in India as the gender bias still exists.
“Women are still not perceived to be capable of handling high-pressure situations that startups bring. Getting finance to start a business can be tough. This perception needs to change, since women are as capable in planning, setting up, and executing a business as men. However, for me it was relatively easy because I did not seek external funding or business support. I used internal funds and worked with my family members to start the company. It worked for me, and we overcame challenges and saw success.”
COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has brought the business almost to a standstill with revenues being impacted hugely.
“However, this is also a time of learning for us. We are looking at new products and formulation, and also working on business strategies to ensure fast recovery post lockdown,” says Mansi.
However, she is optimistic about the future.
“The Indian beauty market is an exciting place to be in since consumers are open to trying new things, love nature-based products, and are following international beauty trends in a big way. More and more consumers are loving indigenous products and are willing to experiment. They are also very conscious of what they apply to their skin. Taking these as guidelines, we will look at new products. Also, post this pandemic, consumers are going to be more conscious about personal hygiene, which is one trend we will look into,” she adds.