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Know how Vineeta Singh co-founded Rs 550 crore cosmetics brand SUGAR

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SUGAR Cosmetics, is a woman-centric brand that was launched by Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee. The company began as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) cosmetic firm before diversifying into an omnichannel approach.

SUGAR Cosmetics, founded in 2015 by Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh, began as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) cosmetic firm before diversifying into an omnichannel approach in 2017. It has since gained consumer and investor support.

Ranveer Singh, a Bollywood actor, spent an unknown sum in SUGAR as part of the company’s Series D fundraising round in early September. SUGAR Cosmetics raised $50 million in its Series D financing in May 2022, lead by L Catterton’s Asia fund.Returning investors A91 Partners, Elevation Capital, and India Quotient also participated in the round.

Seven years later, the women-focused company claims to have annual sales of more than Rs 550 crore and more than 100 brand-owned stores and over 45,000 retail contact points in over 500 locations.

The inspiration for SUGAR Cosmetics, which debuted in 2015, comes from Fab Bag, Vineeta and Kaushik’s cosmetic subscription business.

“I’ve always been interested in developing a business by and for women as the primary audience. I recall writing numerous women-centric company concepts on paper while studying because I knew it was something I wanted to pursue,” says Vineeta Singh, Co-founder and CEO of SUGAR Cosmetics.

“When I launched my beauty subscription business in 2012, I finally had the opportunity to engage with women as my main audience, which was something I’d always wanted to do,” she says.

The team managed the company for nine years, accumulating 200,000 consumers.  The women’s close-knit group discussed their preferences, skin issues, and likes/dislikes with the team.

As the Fab Bag team combed through the data, it became clear that the majority of accessible cosmetic brands, both foreign and domestic, did not appeal to Indian skin tones or the Indian way of life. This limited women’s options since they had to either import cosmetics from outside or wear colours that didn’t suit them.

“We saw a trend of Indian millennial women using makeup on a daily basis as a feel-good accessory – one that made them feel more confident, strong, and happy,” Vinita explains.

She discusses their main complaint: having to reapply cosmetics throughout the day. “I assumed that makeup had to be long-lasting. Even if a lady takes public transportation or drives on filthy roads, her cosmetics should remain.”

This is what prompted the creators to establish SUGAR Cosmetics in 2015. The brand, which debuted with a line of matte, long-lasting cosmetics, became popular as a result of people chatting about it on Instagram. More than two lakh online reviews with 4 to 5-star ratings demonstrate the product-market match.

What happens next?

SUGAR claims to be the first company in India to produce the Ace of Face Foundation Stick, a foundation in 22 hues that is suitable for all Indian skin tones, in 2018. It also debuted India’s first powder lipstick, which quickly sold out. “While there have been many hits, the road to these accomplishments has been fraught with mistakes, blunders, and learnings,” Vineeta explains.

According to the creator, customer education is at the center of the company’s operations, and the team continues to reach out to consumers via YouTube, Instagram, and SUGAR’s own app.

“We are excited to develop our hybrid collection based on user input,” Vineeta explain, “With our target demographic in mind, we are also excited to enter new segments of the beauty market.”

SUGAR Cosmetics employs 2,500 people, with 75% of them being women.

It currently intends to strengthen and extend its four fundamental pillars: distribution, product, content, and community. The brand will prioritize content creation in order to continue educating and engaging its community across all platforms—digital and otherwise.

Vineeta says that SUGAR will expand its retail footprint by improving retail marketing and visual merchandising, as well as its product portfolio and distribution.

“We plan to strengthen our omnichannel approach by concurrently expanding our distribution channels in India and abroad, as well as building a stronger foundation on our D2C platforms,” she says.

The brand is planning smart relationships with like-minded individuals, intellectual properties, and events.

Vineeta  says,  “While this path of making SUGAR one of India’s top three beauty businesses has been incredible, I do envisage employing more than 10,000 women and going public.

“Getting there will be difficult, but Vineeta adds, “We’ve never shied away from striving higher and dreaming big.”

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