Starting up with just Rs 2,500, this woman entrepreneur's brand clocked a net profit of Rs 11 lakh in just over a year
Social media is teeming with small businesses. The ease of setting up a shop online and reaching hordes of customers in a few taps came especially handy for Anubhuti Jain Mishra, a 32-year-old mother in Lucknow, who started making different flavours of natural lip butters in late 2020.
Started with just Rs 2,500 for the raw materials, she posted the products on Instagram and Facebook, took them to local exhibitions in the city and the business took off.
Customers not only helped the business grow through word-of-mouth, but also prompted Anubhuti to introduce natural products for hair, skin, and body. Soon, her eponymous brand– An Experience grew its SKUs with natural soaps, essential oils, bodycare, hair care, and babycare products as well – all handmade, eco-friendly, and free of chemicals like sulphate and paraben within the price range of Rs 199 and Rs 499, according to Anubhuti.
She says the products are priced keeping the middle-class consumers in mind.
“Most products tagged natural and eco-friendly tend to be expensive. The idea behind Anubhuti was to make that kind of luxury affordable that consumers like mothers and college-going girls are willing to pay for,” she tells HerStory.
Besides its own website, the products are sold on marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon, and will be available soon on Myntra and Nykaa. Having sold more than one lakh units, the brand has clocked a net profit of Rs 11 lakh since inception.
From her home kitchen, the products are made in small batches without preservatives and a shelf life of six months to one year. Anubhuti is tapping a competitive and fast-growing skincare market in India that was valued at Rs 129.76 billion in 2020.
In 2019, her career took a backseat after her son was born and she had to resign from her job at Google. “My son is a chronic kidney patient and either my husband or I had to be there with him because of the health complications. And so it was my decision to put in the papers,” she says.
Pregnancy also took a toll on her hair and skin. But when most commercial products available in the market failed to show any results, Anubhuti revisited her love for DIY skincare routines, something she enjoyed during her teenage years.
“As I had a lot of time staying home, looking after my son, I took certificate courses and started reading and studying about skin types, hair qualities, and the suitable ingredients,” she says.
For the next one year, Anubhuti worked on formulation and market research to commercially launch the brand. “Then came COVID-19 and I thought this was the perfect time to start as consumers were more into sustainable and healthy lifestyles,” she says, adding that the brand was officially launched in May 2021.
At present, Anubhuti’s product quality is being audited by International Standardisation organisation (ISO) and is likely to receive the certification in the next few months.
Starting at a small scale posed a challenge in sourcing the raw materials from vendors who are not ready to supply in small quantities.
“It was difficult for me to make them understand that one year down the line, they will get business from me. I could not take huge quantities because if they don't sell, I cannot store the inventory for long as all the products are preservative-free,” she says.
Initially, handling everything alone with the baby was the biggest challenge. Now, Anubhuti has a team of five full-time employees.
Anubhuti acknowledges there are challenges unique to women entrepreneurs, especially in India. Her relatives and vendors would not take her venture seriously and think it won't last long.
There were relatives who told her, “You have a kid, and that too he is unwell. So why not have your entire focus on him and do this (the business) later on. Or ‘why don't you go back to your engineering job.’”
Such gender bias had penetrated her work as a mechanical engineer as well.
“There are very few women in the field and I earlier worked at a plant setup in a very remote location, which was entirely male dominated. Even then, I felt that I was only given a desk job and never assigned to field work because I am a woman,” she shares.
Now that she is running her business, Anubhuti asks for a couple of years to see the business grow in reply to such comments. Sharing the market space with established skincare brands like Neutrogena, Lotus, and Khadi essentials as well as many new natural brands, Anubhuti believes her USP lies in product pricing that is easy on the pocket.
Bootstrapped so far, Anubhuti is now looking to raise seed fund to boost its organic growth and focus on digital marketing.
Edited by Megha Reddy