Suraj Vazirani exudes restless energy, which explains this journey as an entrepreneur. Even as a collegian in Gujarat, he started his first commercial venture – a cybercafé – before venturing into the gaming zone business. Having tasted success, he then started a retail store, which he later expanded into a chain of outlets for electronics and mobile phones. He also started an online portal called ManiacStore.com in 2013 at a time when ecommerce was just beginning to make inroads in the country.
After selling online for almost eight years, Vazirani realized the need to pivot the business model. Rather than selling mass products, he started focusing on private labels. “We started by distributing only those brands that were exclusively available with us for pan-India online business – which we continued for almost three years,” he reminisced.
Amongst the first private label brands to be brought on board was Beardo, a male grooming product range. Starting from selling 35 units daily, today Beardo sells almost 6000 units daily across various platforms, and Vazirani is proud of his long standing association with the brand.
LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE
This experience of selling private labels got him thinking on the need to create his own brand. The only question that remained was which category to get into?
He started researching on the burgeoning business domains and learned that the women’s beauty industry is expected to touch almost INR 1 lakh crore by 2020-2021. This piqued his interest and he decided to launch ‘The Beauty Co’ in 2018.
“With the growing presence of online marketplaces, private labels have a lot of opportunities to gain better exposure. This has impacted the customer buying habits too, and they are not brand-focused anymore,” Vazirani.
He also fell back on his five year long journey in the ecommerce space to promote The Beauty Co. This began with marketing it aggressively, since it was envisaged as an online only brand for the initial year. “We started with one SKU, the charcoal teeth whitening powder, on Amazon, as we wanted to understand customer feedback before launching a plethora of products. We used this introduction to decide our marketing and sales strategies and then used it as a template for the next launches,” Vazirani stated.
The next lineup included body scrubs, which did equally well, prompting the company to start its own online portal. “From 2018 till date, we sell almost 400 units daily with an average sale price of INR 810, across 18 SKUs,” he exulted. Plans are also afoot to scale the portfolio to 32 SKUs.
CARVING A NICHE
Most brands focus on multiple product verticals, including haircare, skincare and makeup. When it started, The Beauty Co decided to focus on skincare and body care regime rather than get into various sub-categories, at least till it reached a particular threshold.
Now that The Beauty Co has passed the litmus test of making its presence felt in the online space, Vazirani wants to explore the offline route. Initially, it will begin this journey in premium retail stores. A couple of quarters later, it will build an entire ecosystem, comprising a super-stockist, a distributor, a sub-distributor and a retailer.
The offline activity will flag off in the western region, covering Mumbai, Pune and Gujarat, followed by northern and southern markets. The final touchpoint would include salons and spas, in addition to retail outlets.
Conversations are also underway with select modern trade retail companies. Vazirani ruled out having exclusive business outlets or experience zones currently till such time that its offline market ecosystem is established and starts delivering the expected results.
In the meantime, he would rather promote the brand’s offering to a wider audience. Not too long ago, it distributed 50000 samples of its body scrubs in 50gm packs to Nykaa consumers in a bid to encourage them to try and then buy the products.
Activities like these have helped The Beauty Co achieve milestones like an annual run rate of $1.5 million within nine months into the business. The company has also scaled up with its operations with presence in eight states in addition to its headquarters in Ahmedabad and 19 warehouses across India.
Vazirani looks back on his professional excursion so far and said that he had never imagined he’d end up working in the beauty business. Having dabbled in theatre, he thought he’d be an actor. But watching people try out The Beauty Co’s products and feel satisfied has made him realize that his true stage is not under the arc lights, but with spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.