This actor-entrepreneur built a women’s cosmetics brand by selling on Nykaa, Amazon, Flipkart

Alongside ex-Beardo founders Priyank Shah and Ashutosh Valani, actor-entrepreneur Aashka Goradia started Renee Cosmetics in Ahmedabad in 2018, with products like Fab 5-In-1 Lipstick, bold 3D Eyelashes, and more.

In recent years, the increasing penetration of the Internet and the adoption of western culture in India has led to the growth of online markets for cosmetic products. 

Spurred by the digital wave, the Indian market for cosmetics products is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 4.23 percent to $20 billion between 2020 and 2025, according to data from Mordor Intelligence and Statista.

It is against this backdrop that actor-turned-entrepreneur Aashka Goradia realised her dream to manufacture and sell cosmetic products under her own brand, Renee Cosmetics.

The cosmetics manufacturing brand claims to be 100 percent cruelty-free, paraben-free, and FDA approved.

Aashka tells SMBStory:

“Make-up is a form of empowerment, and through my brand, I wanted to create products celebrating women’s natural beauty. Alongside ex-Beardo founders Priyank Shah and Ashutosh Valani, I started Renee in Ahmedabad in 2018 and launched cosmetic products such as a Fab 5-In-1 Lipstick, bold 3D Eyelashes, and more.”

The products made by Renee’s manufacturing partners in Gujarat were then sold on its website, as well as Nykaa, Amazon, Flipkart, and social media channels.

Aashka does not disclose the brand’s sales figures but says the strategy has worked, and Renee has grown quickly from a small manufacturing enterprise to a team of 50 employees.

“Our revenue has risen 30X, and we are now targeting an ARR of Rs 100 crore,” she says, adding, "We have engaged approximately 75,000 consumers in the last three months."

Priyank Shah, Aashka Goradia and Ashutosh Valani

Initial days of the brand

A girl from Gujarat, Aashka had moved to Mumbai when she was 16 to pursue a career in acting. She found success as a television actor but always harboured the dream of launching her own cosmetics brand.

“As someone who loves playing and experimenting with different looks and make-up, owning my brand was something I always thought of, and it was a dream that was brewing for a long time. I put it in motion and started Renee only when my friends and family encouraged me,” she says.

After seeing initial success with her lipstick and eyelash products, Aashka diversified into manufacturing Kohlistic Eye Range, Strobe Queen Highlighters, Check Matte Lipsticks, Brushes Set, Eyebrow Growth Roll-On, and Make-up Removing Balm, among others.

“The support and experience of Priyank and Ashutosh gave the brand a direction I wanted it to take. They wanted to enter and experience a new category altogether and cater to the women of India, competing in a saturated market that needed innovation,” she says.

The brand started with an initial investment of Rs 50 lakh. Given the expertise and experience of all the founders, gathering resources got aligned with the trust and faith of its partners.

Market approach and competition

The average price of Renee products is between Rs 500 and Rs 550, and it targets women in Tier I and II cities between the ages of 18 and 35. Aashka describes them as the “digitally-forward women who enjoy shopping online for new products and who lookout for new trends.”

A photo shoot for Renee Cosmetics' 5-in-1 lipstick

Renee Cosmetics is competing in a market featuring major players, including Colorbar, Lotus Herbals, Loreal, and more. She names SUGAR Cosmetics, Lakme, Maybelline, and MyGlamm as some of the brand’s competitors.

“The USP of our products is a high-quality delivery and never-seen-before packaging that offers the promise of luxury, but is delivered at a pocket-friendly price. Another advantage we have is knowing our audience inside out. We are always listening to marketplaces, reading trends, and planning strategies accordingly,” she says.

Challenges and lessons learned

In 2020, the brand understood the importance of making in India when trade windows with international vendors closed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At present, Renee plans to become more self-reliant in a market where bigger, international brands have much larger spending and establishment.

“Like any other business, we too have seen the ups and downs that come with a pandemic. But as a business that grew in the pandemic, we realised the importance of gaining our community’s trust in the last year,” Aashka says.

The aesthetic appeal of such cosmetic products among a young generation is on the rise, and India is seen as one of the fastest-growing countries for colour cosmetics in the Asian region. 

As Renee gears up to further tap into this market and go after the Rs 100 crore ARR mark, Aashka is looking to establish a strong offline presence across key premium stores. 

Edited by Suman Singh