This husband-wife duo is riding the Korean wave with cruelty-free and gender-neutral K-beauty products

Founded in August 2019, Wonderskin offers gender neutral Korean beauty products priced between Rs 250 and Rs 3,000. They are available on its own website, Nykaa, and Amazon.
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We have all heard of the massive popularity of K-Pop, but did you know that K-Beauty, South Korea’s contribution to the beauty industry is all the rage intrenationally and in India as well?

Focusing on skin aesthetics and particularly on health, hydration and texture, the secret to the glowing skin of Korean women forms part of K-beauty, a line-up of products that is increasingly gaining acceptance all over the world.

According to MarketsandResearch.com, the K-beauty products market was valued at  at $9.3 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $21.8 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 11.3 percent from 2019 to 2026.

Cashing in on this Korean beauty wave is Delhi-based couple Mansi Moolchandani Chandok and Rahul Chandok. When they stumbled upon the popularity of K-beauty products and wanted to introduce them to India, they began by looking at how much Indians were willing to spend on beauty and cosmetic products.

In a survey conducted by consumer market research company ProdegeMR, 43.88 percent of respondents said that they spent up to Rs 700 on cosmetics in February last year while nearly 19 percent spent between Rs 700 and Rs 1,700.

The duo founded Wonderskin in 2019, to tap into India’s cosmetic market that is expected to grow at 7.6 percent annually. Revenue in the market amounts to over $6000 million in 2020 according to Statista.

Skincare knows no gender

A garment entrepreneur, Rahul explored foreign skincare products for the first time on his trips to Japan. “Every person on the street and train station looked healthier, and I was told they used superior, natural skincare products,” he tells HerStory.

Rahul and Mansi tested the market for these products in India by bringing skincare products as gifts and souvenirs for friends and family. While they could not source products from Japan, they explored Korean beauty products, which were garnering a lot of attention in the cosmetics industry.

Last year, they launched Wonderskin and became the sole distributors of cosmetic and skincare companies, Accoje and Aroma Yong with CDSCO registration. They were conscious in choosing natural and cruelty-free brands.   

Notably, the duo says that Wonderskin aims to promote a gender neutral approach to skincare, stating ‘it is a necessity to be healthy just like exercise.’

The couple met Yong Sun Hee, international aromatherapy therapist and the CEO of Aroma Yong and gained the right to source its medicinal plant-based and biodegradable sheet masks.

Mansi claims that the most important ingredient of Accoje products is natural bed rock water from the famous Jeju Islands in Korea. With Jeju Cosmetic certification, India is one of 14 countries that Accoje is present in. Its products include face cleansers, serums, moisturising creams, and lotions. 

Its products are available on the startup’s website, Nykaa, and Amazon, and are priced between Rs 250 and Rs 3,000. Wonderskin also operates on a B2B model through its network of distributors and retailers in India. Bootstrapped so far, the startup is on track to become profitable this financial year.

Wonderskin's products of Accoje and Aroma Yong brands are available at Nykaa and Amazon.

Market and challenges

The entrepreneurs are focussed on social media marketing. This includes promoting how-to videos on usage of the products and others that educates potential customers about key ingredients. The platform has tied up with several make-up artists, beauty influencers and bloggers. 

They are also leveraging the cultural popularity of South Korea in India and are working with the Korean Cultural Centre. Many customers from metro cities, Tier II and III cities have shown interest in the startup’s products. The brand’s peers include other distributors of Korean beauty brands like Beauty Barn, Macaron, and Daisyskinfix, and others.

However, COVID-19 became a major hurdle just a few months after starting up. Lockdown and containment zones made it difficult to deliver products. 

“Considering the current situation when market sentiments are low, we have to stay focused and positive by improving our customer service and satisfaction,” Mansi says.

The founders say that sales have improved in the last few months. However, the period post-COVID-19 where hygiene is a concern, skincare has also become a big part of people’s self-care routine. 

“They are not only washing hands regularly but also taking care of their skin with regular face cleansing. Use of toxic laden face masks have led to acne and skin break out issues. We are educating people to follow a good skin care routine,” she adds.

A team of 10 people, the startup had earlier planned to launch two additional brands but COVID-19 put a stop to their plans. The entrepreneurs hope to diversify the product range by getting more Korean brands on board by 2021.

The entrepreneurs say, “Our face is the most sensitive and the most neglected part of our bodies and also face the worst damage. So, it deserves all the treats one can offer.”

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan

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