With asa, this mother and daughter-in-law duo have built a clean and sustainable beauty brand that is also D2C
For Asha Jindal Khaitan and her daughter-in-law Sukriti Jindal Khaitan, the idea of building sustainable products wasn’t unnerving. Joining forces, the duo decided to approach the Indian beauty landscape with a green and clean lens, and bring global standards of makeup to India.
The discerning global Indian's dream of natural, ethically sourced, and sustainable ingredients are the formulations behind ‘clean awakening' with, a Mumbai-based D2C makeup and skin care brand that emerged in 2020.
With a degree in Economics from Indraprastha College for Women, and growing up amidst the nurturing environment of Jindal Naturecure Institute, Asha developed a deep-rooted appreciation for sustainable practices - making her a firm believer in the bountifulness of nature.
Co-founder Sukriti has a background in bio-diversity, bio-availability and bio-individuality. Having graduated from New York University with a baccalaureate in Economics and Psychology in 2014, she went on to get certified as a Nutrition Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2016.
Building the products
“As the consumer perception shifts to a more conscious way of living, we awaken them to clean beauty without having them compromise on the luxury experience,” says Asha.
Asha and Sukriti choose products that reflect their own values of sustainability, community and wellness, whilst also maintaining international standards of aesthetics and quality. This is enabled through clean beauty solutions; to look and choose natural makeup by creating impactful conversations around the new ‘normal’ of makeup.
When it comes to testing, as a vegan brand, the founders claim they went above and beyond the usual testing methods - even beyond Indian standards, which are usually limited to microbial testing, and had multiple trials for stability testing, among others.
“Internal processes ensure minimum wastage, and working on functional aspects of packaging helped us learn the engineering of our products, and the process of creating aluminium casings and refills presents its own challenges. Some of these were creating the packaging from scratch, using aluminium to create something that never existed before, visualising and curating a mould, creating every piece to fit into the final product that you see - it’s a whole process that requires determination, and we pushed through it. The result is an experience like never before,” explains Sukriti.
Asha adds that even the secondary packaging reflects the values of sustainability. “The process that goes into creating it, wrapping the product and delivering it to you - each step is one that brings you closer to the plane.”
Using the right ingredients
“We have done extensive research to make sure our packaging is eco-friendly; the paper used for our secondary packaging is 100 percent recyclable and FSC certified - a certifying body that protects our forests and its species and the rights of the indigenous,” informs Asha.
The formulations are clean, earth-friendly, and nature-inspired, made using ingredients that are more than 92 percent natural and ethically sourced. For example, asa Hydra-Matte Lipsticks are clean, vegan, cruelty-free and formulated with 94 percent natural ingredients. This intensely matte lipstick is infused with Shea Butter that helps deliver a rich colour payoff that won't settle into the cracks of your lips and Cocoa Butter leaves your lips with a moisturising effect.
“In creating a product like this lipstick, that is sustainable and aesthetically pleasing, it is essential to actively choose environmentally friendly processes. Our products are inspired by nature, formulations made using earth-friendly ingredients, and this reflects in the curvature and shapes of our packaging,” says Sukriti.
But launching a brand in the cusp of a pandemic is a tough task. Thus, the duo decided to focus on making a strong brand narrative around - beauty with a purpose.
With Asha working from Mumbai and Sukriti from Bangalore, the founders feel working from two different cities is a challenge that is also an opportunity in disguise. “It helps us understand the different audiences, bring two perspectives to the brand and make it work better,” they chime.
“As an internet-first brand, we find it difficult to give our customers the in-store touch and feel experience. This is a challenge we're overcoming with the advancements in technology like reaching a wider audience with influencer-led product experiences. This is also our attempt to bring our products to life for the customers,” says Asha.
Since the brand is natural, clean, and does not use preservatives in formulations, increasing its shelf life is a challenge, but one which the founders hope to overcome with collective planning.
“The process of creating aluminium casings and refills presents its own challenges. Some of these were creating the packaging from scratch, using aluminium to create something that never existed before, visualising and curating a mould, creating every piece to fit into the final product that you see - the result is an experience like never before,” adds Sukriti.
The lipstick shades are customised for the Indian skin tone. “We were capable of reaching this today after extensive research on what the global Indian is searching for. A good example of this is the asa Easy Blend Concealer in Burnt Cashew shade,” she adds.
Market and future
The average order value on the website is Rs 5,000 and the average selling price is approximately Rs 2,250. The brand’s makeup ranges from Rs 1,750 to Rs 2,900, while the refills range from Rs 1,250 to Rs 2,450.
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 Global Secrets, Pilgrim, , , etc., Ras Herbals, Sugar, , ,
“While our platform ‘The House’ is slowly transforming into a world of mindful choices, purposeful luxury and sustainability for the conscious consumer, we are definitely looking at more initiatives for the brand. Expanding to various geographies along with strengthening our portfolio is one such initiative. We’re also building our brand to define ‘the asa woman’, to empower her and help her in her effort to evolve her choices,” says Asha.
Advising all women entrepreneurs, the duo say, “Be passionate about what you believe in, that’s what will make all the difference. For us, sustainability and being conscious is an important part of our lives and we focussed on it knowing and hoping that there were like-minded women out there. Ensure you also work with the right individuals and build a strong team that believes in you and your values, and reflects the same.”