After losing her mother to cancer, this girl started a business of wigs and extensions made of human hair
Nishtha Malik, Founder, Beaux
Bereavement affects us all, but everyone has a different way of coping with it.
Nishtha Malik was 17 years old, and her 18th birthday was just two days away when her mother took her last breath. It was a devastating phase as she saw her mother struggle with lung cancer and ultimately lose her life.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Nishtha says,
“The doctors had informed us a week before that my mother’s condition was critical. I was giving my Class 12 board exams when I lost her. But, I had promised her that I would not skip the exams. It was catastrophic to be in that situation. At one end, I was at the most important phase of my school life; at the other, I was facing the worst-ever situation I could have imagined.”
Her mother’s death left a huge void in her heart and life, but Nishtha shouldered on.
After completing her Class 12 in 2012, she completed her graduation and moved to London to complete a master’s in entrepreneurship. She even worked in an organic hair care company, but she wasn’t satisfied.
In 2019, Nishtha came back to India and explored the organic hair care market in the country. She was disheartened when she saw that the industry was lacking, especially when it came to wigs and hair extensions. The pain point hit home as she had seen her mother struggling to find a wig after she lost her hair during the treatment process.
She immediately decided that this is what she was going to do: give courage and hope to women undergoing chemotherapy by providing them with quality wigs and extensions.
Taking the first step
Hair extensions by Beaux
For two years, Nishtha did thorough research of the market.
“I found that synthetic hair products abounded and there was no one in the market providing wigs and extensions made of 100 percent human hair. When I was in London, I had seen brands doing this business; they were very popular. But, in India, I couldn’t see that anywhere,” she says.
Nishtha decided to focus on this untapped market and launched her company, Beaux, which means beautiful, in June 2019. Apart from helping cancer patients, she thought that bringing real hair into the industry would also give her customers, especially women, the “beautiful thick hair they deserve.''
“Hair extensions and wigs are nothing but a tool to help women look and feel more confident. Some women have really thin hair, either as a result of genetics, stress or illness, which makes them feel insecure on a daily basis. Or maybe, the hair just won’t grow past a certain point, or has the length but not the volume. In those cases, we definitely need a little extra help from hair extensions to achieve the hair we’ve always dreamed of,” she says.
Building the business
Hair wigs by Beaux
Getting started was not a big struggle as India is the biggest exporter of hair in the world. Nishtha says Beaux uses 100 percent natural hair and sources it from temples of South India, mainly from Tirupati Balaji (where people tonsure their hair as a religious practice).
She started the company with a capital of Rs 8 lakh, which she borrowed from her father. The processing unit is in Kota, Rajasthan, where the sourced hair undergoes various processes, including pre-conditioning, washing, and conditioning not once, but twice. There is a multi-step quality control before a finished product finally emerges from the unit.
Beaux makes wigs, toppers, coloured hair strands/streaks, hair scrunchies, and hair wraps. After launching in June 2019, in six months, the company has made average sales of Rs 12-15 lakh, and has started exporting to South Africa, Dubai, and Turkey.
“I also have clients in London, and we are present in various salons in Mumbai and at Atlantis and Palm Jumeira in Dubai. I am also in talks with a prominent chain, which runs 950 salons across India, to stock my products.”
She exhibits her products at various exhibitions across India and creates awareness about using human hair extensions. She also conducts session at Pearl Academy, Delhi.
The company currently sells through its website, Indiamart, and through social media portals like Instagram and Facebook. The company has also collaborated with numerous makeup artists who use Beaux for their clients. The company will start selling on Amazon, Flipkart, and third-party websites from February.
Amid the sales, Nishtha hasn’t forgotten why she started Beaux, and helps out cancer patients free of cost who approach her.
Navigating the challenges and the way ahead
Beaux men toupee
Creating awareness has been one of the biggest challenges, Nishtha says, adding that people often don’t understand the reasons and benefits of using extensions and wigs made from human hair.
Synthetic wigs have a very short shelf life; they last only for a day or maximum a couple of days and you cannot experiment with them. On the other hand, human hair extensions and wigs last for over 10 years, and can be washed, straightened, coloured, and more.
“Synthetic hair extensions cost approximately Rs 3,000 in retail. People can only use them once or twice and they are also not good for the scalp. On the other hand, our extensions cost approximately Rs 15,000 and last for over 10 years. But people still make their choice without having complete knowledge,” Nishtha tells SMBStory.
Her products are slightly on the pricier side, she says, stating that this is because they “are 100 percent natural and last for years with a one-time investment”. She adds that acceptance is also a challenge as many people refrain from disclosing to others that they use a wig.
Nishtha claims there are only a few salons in India offer real hair wigs, which are also “not 100 percent natural”. Beaux competes with Diva Divine, a family-run business that has been dealing with similar wigs and hair extensions in India for over 20 years.
Speaking about future plans, Nishtha says she wants to expand across countries. She also wants to reach rural cities in India, and educate people and cancer patients on the use of human hair wigs/extensions and their benefits.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)