[100 Emerging Women Leaders] This 28-year-old’s D2C beauty brand brings self-care rituals from across the world

In this feature of 100 Emerging Women Leaders, we feature Aishwarya Nir Swarna, Founder of D2C brand Global Beauty Secrets.
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For Aishwarya Nir Swarna, entrepreneurship wasn’t something new. Her parents are the founders of the Aishwarya Group, a pharmaceutical organisation. 

But what really inspired Aishwarya to start up was her grandmother’s self-care beauty rituals. Twenty-eight-year-old Aishwarya realised that women around the world had unique beauty secrets to take care of themselves, and this led her to start D2C brand Global Beauty Secrets in 2018. 

“It is this idea that inspired me to further travel and discover for myself these unique beauty rituals across the world,” says Aishwarya, a graduate of JHC, Mumbai University, who later went on to work at the Times of India and CNBC-TV18. 

Aishwarya says, with Global Beauty Secrets, the team is trying to address cultural inclusivity in beauty. 

“In an industry that’s significantly crowded with locally sourced, ayurvedic themed products, we are a voice that seeks to represent heritage beauty rituals from across the world with natural and high performance ingredients in environment-friendly packaging,” adds Aishwarya. 

What helped her set up the business was her stint at Aishwarya Group, where she learnt a lot about product creation and high-performance activities instrumental in skincare. 

“Armed with my entrepreneurial zeal and interest in the field of beauty and self-care, I was motivated towards starting a beauty brand inspired by women and global self-care rituals around the world. All these experiences and insights into global cultures helped me shape Global Beauty Secrets, a wellness brand, with a vision to revive these lost rituals and unique beauty secrets, poured into a bottle with rich natural extracts,” says Aishwarya. 

Understanding multicultural perspectives  

During the pandemic, Aishwarya reached out to Kyoto-based artist and preserver of Kimono culture, Junko Sophie Kakizaki, who comes from a lineage of Samurai warriors. 

“Her work and passion as an artist and an ambassador of Japanese culture resonated with me. I got a glimpse into her wondrous universe of ancient and authentic beauty traditions, ” says Aishwarya. 

Although she was adhering to travel restrictions and other quarantine norms, which were being dictated by the pandemic, Aishwarya yearned to continue her journey of understanding multicultural perspective on beauty to unite people in diversity, celebrate inclusivity, and preserve intelligent cultural knowledge.

“To me, that is the true vision of beauty - a collective evolution of our being, a space that challenges hate and division, a space that nurtures who we are and doesn’t ask us to adhere to normative beauty standards. A space I strongly believe we should continue to cultivate as a civilisation is to encourage and share wisdom on spiritual, mental, and physical revitalisation,” adds Aishwarya. 

Building the products 

Believing in her vision that beauty has a universal soul, Junko agreed to collaborate with Global Beauty Secrets to create Tashi-nami Beauty Box. 

Speaking about this, Aishwarya says, “We drew inspiration from Junko’s grandmother and her age-old beauty rituals, artefacts, and ingredients. We have recreated them by sourcing the very best from Japan and India. Our silk puffs are made from ancient kimonos imported from Japan, and our intensely hydrating hair and skin moisturiser, the Camellia oil blend, is an incredible blend of high-performance ingredients. And finally, we end with the Beni nourishing lip balm with soothing safflower oil. The oil as well as the balm are enriched with Ecocert compliant ingredients sourced from the most credible suppliers around the world.”

The team works with community experts to understand different beauty rituals that are unique, and invests time and energy to understand product stories and works with experts to craft and design product packaging unique to the culture. 

“This is done at the design level, which is visually and functionally tested for prototypes with several vendors in different textures and forms. For eg., in our recent Kyoto range, we did a unique origami-based packaging with a traditional Heian art work inside and Zen-inspired packaging outside. We completed it with hand-drawn calligraphy from Japanese cultural expert Junko Sophie Kakizaki,” says Aishwarya. 

Manufacturing and more

The team also simultaneously worked on developing the product with the help of their lab and manufacturing associates to satisfy and meet the requirements of their target audience. 

For eg., ensuring the ingredients were super clean and organic, and the packaging was eco-friendly. One of the products was a silk puff, which the team upcycled with vintage sanitised Kimonos sourced from Kyoto. 

After product development, the product goes for prototype approvals with from experts. The silk puff underwent three different vendors, approximately 22-24 different prototypes, and two batches of commercial production in the middle of and after the second lockdown, says Aishwarya.  

“After the approval, we curate the gift box and also compile an extensive set of literature called Tashinami, which we developed over a period of three months and then turned it into a book for all our community members to enjoy. We curated the products and book into a gift box and shared with our industry opinion leaders and customers to savour,” says Aishwarya. 

She adds that the team doesn’t compromise on sourcing and all the materials they use are tested for purity and have documentation supported by COA for every purchase made for the raw materials. 

All these are sourced from international vendors, trusted by leading players in the industry, and are regulatory body approved or certified. In many products, most ingredients are Ecocert or COSMOS-approved.

“The information on our ingredients is very transparently mentioned in all our packaging in compliance with regulatory requirements. We have tie-ups with WHO: GMP certified manufacturing facility to produce all the products conceptualised, designed, and formulated by us,” says Aishwarya. 

Pricing and market 

The product pricing varies anywhere between Rs 400 to Rs 4,000, depending on the product function, quantity, and usage. The products are available in categories like skin, hair, and body. 

“I have faced many challenges along the way like any other entrepreneur. However, I am deeply grateful for all the lessons that have come to me in the process and they have been more rewarding than any other educational course I could have done.

"The one thing I have learnt in this journey is to get your business fundamentals right if you want to play a long-term game. If you make mistakes, be brave and committed enough to learn, adapt, redo, and excel,” adds Aishwarya. 

An Avendus report says India’s D2C business is going to be worth $100 billion in the next five years. India has as many as 600 D2C brands – a number that will significantly grow in the next five years, and more than 16 brands with an annual turnover of more than $60 million.

Some of the D2C startups in the beauty segment include Sugar, Juicy Chemistry, Mamaearth, Pilgrim, Disguise Cosmetics, Plum, etc.

Future plans 

Speaking about future plans, Aishwarya says she aims to make sure their products are honest and worth the value for money that the customer is paying. Hence, quality and credibility are a priority. Making sure the brand reaches new directions, markets, and scale are other priorities.

She says the idea is to grow a digitally-native brand with consumer convenience and infotainment at heart, with technologically advanced delivery of products, information, and customer outreach.

Advising budding entrepreneurs, she says, “Be brave, persevere, and enjoy the process.”

Edited by Megha Reddy

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