This woman entrepreneur started up in the natural skin and haircare space and hopes to cross Rs 10 Cr in revenue this year

Pritika Singh founded natural cosmetics startup Tvakh in 2016 to provide natural and healthy solutions to skin and hair care problems.

Pritika Singh says she was always inquisitive as a child. Having little access to Google and the internet she would read anything she came across, even ingredients on packaging to understand what the product was made of.

In 2013, as a postgraduate student of biotechnology at the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Punjab, Pritika learnt that most skincare products contain toxic chemicals that are harmful in the long-term. 

In fact, a study conducted by public interest research and advocacy organisation Centre for Science and Environment, based in Delhi, revealed that fairness creams and lipsticks, contain metallic elements like mercury which is ‘universally recognised as toxic’. 

Pritika was then working on her Master’s thesis related to causes of breast cancer that was published on Taylor and Francis.

“People were feeding something so toxic to their skins just to look beautiful. As a conscious user, I could not find any natural product that catered to my requirements,” she says.   

Pritika later joined cosmetic research and development teams at corporate organisations and was not satisfied with their practices. Additionally, Pritika says one has to follow orders at work and cannot question why certain contents were being added. 

“I decided to put my foot down by starting my own skincare line where I could use my knowledge and research to provide natural products suited to different skin types.  I believe one should not have to choose between health and beauty. Beauty should be without any compromises,” she says. 

Founded in 2016, Tvakh is a natural hair and skin care products startup that is tapping into the natural cosmetics market that is valued at $833.4 million in India. The market is further expected to grow annually at 6.6 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) till 2023.

A natural solution 

Pritika is happiest when she is formulating products under her brand Tvakh, inspired by the Sanskrit word tvacha, meaning skin. She started with aloe vera gel from kitchen. 

She shared the product with a distributor of L'Oréal, who referred her to Cleopatra, one of the biggest beauty parlours in Chandigarh who made a bulk order of 50 kg of aloe vera gel. Pritika used her mother’s biggest vessel and made five batches of 10 kg each and used the money to expand her business. 

Soon, she got a manufacturing licence, bought a machine that cost Rs 1 lakh and shifted to a bigger space, and gradually started designing her label and product line. "I made five products, a very basic website, and posted them online, and my first order came from Mumbai. Sending my first shampoo was the happiest moment as an entrepreneur," she recalls.

Operating on the dual model of B2B and B2C, the startup counts on Biopharmecia, Aurel Biolife, Mascon Healthcare, and Dr Sajja’s among its clients. 

The skin and hair care products, priced between Rs 350 and Rs 1200, are also available on ecommerce platforms like Amazon and on its own website. She hopes to expand the brand’s online B2C presence soon. 

Started with an initial investment of Rs 6 lakh, the startup clocked one crore in revenue in the financial year 2017 to 2018. Pritika expects revenues to reach Rs 10 crore this year. 

Apart from spending on basic necessities, the entrepreneur never took a salary from the startup for two years till 2018 when she got married. 

With increasing positive cases of COVID-19 in India, Pritika says sales for hand sanitisers has skyrocketed. Since March 2020, the startup has gone from supplying only to some parts of Punjab to other states like Assam, Kerala, and Delhi. 

Through word-of-mouth

Being previously associated with cosmetic companies, Prtitika says she had the access to the right network of suppliers. Although Pritika hails from a family of entrepreneurs, she lacked experience but hugely benefitted from her father’s support and expertise. 

Her initial challenges included sourcing skilled labour and training them on the processes, right from packaging, research as well as production. 

However, at the core of the business, Pritika believes, lies delivery on promise of product quality. “Although I have the right technique and knowledge and I can explain what my products are, how are they going to trust my company? The only way to gain this trust to deliver on any amount of order promised and slowly build the loyalty,” she says.

“The rest is taken care of through word-of-mouth. Also, there is no element of marketing better and organic than a client’s words of praise for a product,” she adds.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan