Husband-Wife Duo’s Startup – Over the last few years, a new beauty organic products market has sprung up alongside the established one. There was a noticeable shift away from chemical-laden and synthetic beauty products toward more natural or, more precisely, ‘chemical-free’ beauty products, commonly referred to as organic products. Million-dollar companies that previously advertised their products using chemicals from all over the periodic tables are now showcasing products made entirely of plant extracts. As the pattern has changed, India, a country known for centuries of medicinal use of plant extracts, has seen the growth of companies in the field.
Husband-Wife Duo’s Startup Juicy Chemistry, based in Coimbatore, is one of these companies that recognized the trend and acted swiftly. Pritesh Asher, co-founder and chief executive officer of Juicy Chemistry, discusses industry trends and the brand’s future.
When the Kitchen Was Converted Into an Office
Asher explained, it all began with a 10×10 kitchen space and a Facebook page. Megha and Pritesh Asher Husband-Wife Duo’s co-founded Juicy Chemistry in 2014. Previously, Asher ran his family’s industrial lubricant manufacturing business, while Megha worked and managed her fashion line. Prior to 2014, Asher recalled, the petrochemicals industry was disorganized, resulting in significant losses in the family business.
Asher was dissatisfied with the family business and on the lookout for something new. Megha, who had hypersensitive and acne-prone skin at the time, desired to try organic products. This is when she came across a salesperson attempting to sell natural products. After reading the ingredients, Asher discovered that several of them were used as raw materials by his company’s petroleum products manufacturing unit.
This realization inspired the duo, who were looking to break into a new market, to launch their own beauty brand.
“The concept for Juicy Chemistry was born out of a desire to create products that incorporated natural ingredients and delivered results. Additionally, we felt a strong need to educate and sensitize Indian consumers about the meaning of terms like ‘organic’ and ‘natural,'” Asher added.
The Husband-Wife Duo’s startup was bootstrapped until 2019, when it raised a $7 million Series A round led by Belgium-based investment firm Verlinvest in 2021.
From Body Butter to Delivery in Over 20,000 Postal Codes
Asher recalls the early years of the business being difficult. “For a long time, it was just the two of us. We struggled for a long time with our first product, body butter. We’d attend exhibitions and trade shows to promote our products and gradually grow our customer base,” he added.
According to the company, its products are preservative-free and primarily comprised of anhydrous formulations. Their toners, for example, are manufactured using steam distillation in a sterile environment, ensuring that they remain contamination-free despite the absence of preservatives. Juicy Chemistry’s soaps and cleansers are alkaline in nature and do not promote bacterial growth.
He stated that Juicy Chemistry’s products fall under the category of premium beauty. The company’s products are primarily aimed at women between the ages of 18 and 44 and are unisex. Asher reasoned that while beauty is primarily marketed to women, his brand does not wish to follow suit.
“Why should pampering one’s body and caring for one’s hair and skin be restricted to women?” he inquired.
The Husband-Wife Duo’s company, which began selling its products on Amazon, now operates its own website and serves over 20,000 zip codes across the country. The company generates the majority of its revenue from orders placed in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. At the moment, the startup serves between 1250 and 1500 couriers per day with an average cart value of INR 1400.
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
The startup boasts that it takes a backward-integrated approach, which entails cutting out middlemen and sourcing fresh ingredients directly from small-scale farmers. The pandemic’s onset surprised the majority of us. A few weeks of lockdown were anticipated as the situation deteriorated, but nobody anticipated the lockdown would last months. While lockdown was necessary, it acted as a death knell for businesses across industries. Every business felt the brunt of the virus’s havoc. Juicy Chemistry was forced to halt its 2020 plans. The company desired to bolster its offline presence and diversify its organic product offerings.
The imposition of lockdown had a detrimental effect on the startup’s supply chain at every stage.
“We source our ingredients from a variety of countries around the world, and shipments were delayed due to border closures. We rely on the fresh bio-active properties of our beautiful organic produce as a brand, so these closures were concerning for us,” he added.
The brand’s sole retail outlet in Coimbatore was forced to close its doors. However, the startup quickly adopted a digital-first strategy, redesigning its website, enhancing user experience, and bolstering its social media presence. Through social media, the company ran a variety of campaigns, collaborations, and live events to keep its community active and engaged.
The startup’s sales were down in the first half of 2020, but starting in May, orders began to flow in.
“We saw a 150 percent increase in orders in June, followed by a 350 percent increase in July. We generated INR 6.5 crore in revenue in 2019 and INR 25 crore in revenue in 2020 – a 400% increase.”
The startup has noticed a decline in demand in 2021 but is confident that it will rebound in the next quarter.
Juicy Chemistry aims to close the fiscal year with a revenue of INR 100 crore and is looking to expand its presence in international markets such as the United States and Europe – specifically France – as well as capitalize on its existing growth in Australia.
Source : Entrepreneur India