Asa beauty, a premium clean beauty brand founded by Asha Jindal Khaitan and Sukriti Jindal Khaitan, was established earlier this year to inspire a conscientious lifestyle among Indian women.
Asa Beauty is a D2C business based in Mumbai that debuted in 2020. It’s difficult to launch a business on the verge of a pandemic, but the founders have built a strong brand narrative around their efforts – beauty with a purpose.
When Sukriti Jindal Khaitan was looking for clean and conscientious luxury cosmetics brands in June 2019, she couldn’t discover any that catered to Indian ladies.
“It’s quite difficult to find a high-end makeup brand in India that is free of dangerous chemicals while also being environmentally friendly.” We truly thought there was a need for a cosmetics range that is not just all-natural but also supports sustainability, especially since people are becoming more conscious about their consumption,” she says.
She teamed up with her mother-in-law Asha Jindal Khaitan to tackle the problem on her own, and the two created asa beauty in January.
In June 2019, when Sukriti Jindal Khaitan was looking for clean and conscious luxury cosmetics brands, she didn’t find one that was catering specifically to Indian women.
“It is so difficult to find a luxury makeup brand in India, which does not have any harmful chemicals and also supports the environment at the same time. As people are becoming more mindful about their consumption, we really thought there was a need for a cosmetics range that is not only all-natural but also supports sustainability,” she says.
Deciding to solve this problem on her own, she joined forces with her mother-in-law Asha Jindal Khaitan and the two launched asa beauty this January.
Asa beauty is a Mumbai-based direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand, which started with a cosmetic range containing lipsticks, mascara, lip-and-cheek tint, concealer, foundations, finishing powder, luminising powder, and correctors.
The brand claims to be more than 92 percent natural and completely vegan; it uses pure ingredients and is also cruelty-free. “If you would read the ingredients used in our makeup products, you will see that the quantity of oils is very high compared to other brands,” says Sukriti.
As a digital-first brand, asa beauty was introduced to its target audience through social media and the brand’s website.
“In addition to educating the audience about the brand and its various benefits, we also work with a lot of influencers and beauty experts, showcasing the product performance and USPs,” she adds.
Skin and environment-friendly
Asa beauty is a brand by women for women. It works with a lean team of about eight in-house specialists in product management and branding.
All its products are Made in India. It works with multiple manufacturers and value chain partners to consciously formulate and design products. All asa beauty products claim to be free of damaging and environmentally pollutant ingredients like mineral oil, ammonia, EDTA, sulphates, paraben, palm, formaldehyde or triclosan, amongst others.
In fact, asa’s packaging is also created from sustainable elements including aluminium and FSC-certified paper, which are chlorine and heavy metal-free, 100 percent biodegradable, and recyclable.
Besides, the company has introduced a smart and easy refillable programme. Instead of buying a completely new product each time, a customer just needs to buy a refill. “The cases can essentially stay with the customer for a lifetime,” says Sukriti.
The duo had to scout at least 20 vendors in Mumbai and Bengaluru before they found the right vendor to manufacture the cases. “The aluminium cases have to be made out of a mould and since these moulds are not regularly used, had to be separately manufactured,” adds Sukriti.
The brand offers more than 42 SKUs, and the prices range from Rs 1,750 to Rs 2,900. The refills range from Rs 1,250 to Rs 2,450.
With more than 11,000 Instagram followers, the brand clocks anywhere between 250 and 300 orders every month, with an average value of Rs 2,000-4,000.
Sukriti claims asa beauty records Rs 5-8 lakh in sales every month.
But like most young direct-to-consumer beauty brands, the Jindals are working round the clock to increase their order volumes. At the current price point, it doesn’t have very high margins as producing their products is also expensive.
“With the ingredients that we use in our products, the aluminium casing, and the fact that we cannot produce in high quantities yet, we have decided to keep lower margins for ourselves,” says Sukriti. While she doesn’t reveal exact figures, she says it is quite low compared to an established beauty brand.
The products also have a lower shelf life, compared with regular drug store brands, due to less use of preservatives. This is why the brand prefers not producing in large quantities as a customer might lose many days when they could have used the products, between manufacturing, ordering, and shipping. “We want our customers to use our products for many days. It should not be that they got the product and six months later, they have to discard it because their lipstick expired,” says Sukriti.
Also, the new set of lockdowns to curb the second wave of the pandemic is not making it any easier.
Last year, the nationwide lockdown delayed asa beauty’s launch. “All our processes got delayed. I am thankful we were done with manufacturing our products but the efficacy tests had to be done and we wanted more people to try our products for customer feedback. This could not happen because the lockdowns came in place,” says Sukriti
At present, the brand is going full steam ahead, selling on marketplaces like Nykaa, Purplle, Tata Cliq, Sublime Life, and clean beauty marketplace Vanity Wagon.
Brands like Tinge, Ruby’s Organics, and Disguise are rapidly growing in the Indian clean beauty space. In fact, established luxury clean beauty brand Forest Essentials recently launched its cosmetics range as well.
Going ahead, asa beauty plans to expand its existing range, introducing products in categories of cleansers, blushes, and eyeshadows. The brand also plans to continue building ‘The House,’ a platform for like-minded people to share their ideas of sustainability, conscious living, art, music, wellness, and mental health.
The startup also plans to grow its brand among the Indian female diaspora in other countries including the US, England, and Hong Kong.
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.”