What inspired you to launch Sacred Salts. Kindly shed light on your entrepreneurial journey? Also, talk about your initial challenges and how did you overcome those?
It all started when I travelled across length and breadth of India, exploring the heritage of Ayurveda. I wanted to ensure that these sacred recipes in India reach and benefit everyone.
I started my career with a Premium Brands under Arvind Limited and have more than 10 years of experience in retail. However, I decided to quit and do something on my own. In 2016, I started a home decor brand, Nestroots, with a bootstrapped capital of Rs.15 lakhs. Since I have always been interested in launching a skincare brand, Sacred Salts was born in 2018. At present, I am running both the companies and I am glad that I am contributing to the growing Ayurvedic industry in India. As a startup we face challenges every day and to pen them down would be tough. It is how a startup can overcome those challenges is what counts so we are more focussed on overcoming the operational and strategic challenges and are learning from them.
We basically face the below mentioned challenges:-
1. The Skin Care Market is largely driven by very big brands having deep pockets. Taking those players head on and competing in that segment is one of the biggest challenges.
2. Getting a Brand Recognition and repeated customers who use our products is another challenge.
3. With limited budgets, maximizing the acquisition cost per customer is another challenge that startups face early on in the lifecycle.
4. The rising brands have got their hooks into the gap that exists in terms of product variety and ingredients, which is giving a “tough competition in the international and national markets.
What is the current distribution of Sacred Salts in the online as well as offline space. Going forward, what are the plans for distribution expansion?
Within just six months of operations, we closed FY19 with Rs 1 crore and 20,000 customers. We sell on ecommerce portals like Nykaa, Flipkart, and Amazon (India) and last month we went global by selling on Amazon.com. In just a month we were able to hit a sale of 800 products on Amazon.
If our pilot launch in Amazon works, we will plan to launch our products globally by listing them on various other global ecommerce portals. Besides, we are also planning to hit offline shelves in supermarkets and pharmacies in the next financial year by getting good distributors on board.
What is your estimate about sustainable beauty market in India? According to you, what are the factors propelling growth in this segment?
The Indian organic skincare products market is valued at $125 million, growing at 25 percent percent annum. “While the herbal category as a whole is expected to grow at 8-10 percent, the mid-premium segment is expected to grow at a higher rate of 14-16 percent. Consumers are looking for potent yet healthy products with natural healing properties. Clearly, the beauty space is turning green. Consumer demand for organic beauty products is taking off across Asia.
Are you bootstraped or have raised any sorts of funds so far? Else, what are your plans to raise funds?
I started Sacred Salts with a fund of Rs 5 crore from a Singapore-based company, which also mentors us to handle the operational challenges that we face and helped us formulate market entry strategies.
Who do you see as your competition?
Beauty-conscious people and skincare lovers are rooting for organic and vegan products as the new must-haves. They are becoming more receptive to know the importance of using chemical-free products with the right ingredients on their body. We as a brand follow a different marketing approach and try to educate customers on how Ayurvedic ingredients can benefit their skin. We understand their problem with their existing skincare products and address them through our products. We never miss feedback from the customer because that becomes a driving force to make our brand different from the others.
At last, kindly highlight your growth plans.
At present, we manufacture a total of 50 SKUs including skincare products and beauty and bath accessories. We are also a pioneer in launching Milk Skin care range in India, which is one of our Key Collections. We want to be known as a Premium Brand in the Beauty Industry with a complete Range of Body & Skin Care products.