The Wonder Woman of Business

Miss Makeup & Beauty

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VINEETA SINGH, Co-founder & CEO, SUGAR Cosmetics

SUGAR Cosmetics

After studying Electrical Engineering at IIT Madras, Vineeta Singh went to B-School at IIM Ahmedabad before beginning her entrepreneurial journey. Sharing more on her startup spirit, Singh says, “I always felt strongly about building something with women as the core customer, so when my first startup didn’t scale, I decided to launch a beauty subscription company with my co-founder, Kaushik, in 2012. The 200,000 women who shared their detailed beauty preferences with us were at the heart of our pivot to SUGAR Cosmetics, which launched as a direct-to-consumer makeup brand in 2015.” When SUGAR launched premium quality, long-lasting makeup with shades for India, the brand grew virally through women talking about it on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. While the early adopters for SUGAR were more digital-savvy, working women living in metros, they now see a lot of young, millennial women in the 20 to 35 age group across India, including Tier 2/3/4 towns, aspiring to own SUGAR products.

When SUGAR was launched, large legacy brands never considered e-commerce and social media as high potential sales and marketing channels, so Singh felt that they weren’t ready for the young, new India. Talking about the initial challenges, Singh mentions, “When we tried raising capital, we were told that digital-first beauty will be a small market and that it would be impossible to compete with large FMCG companies without raising hundreds of millions of dollars. We were even told that the product itself won’t be a strong moat since it is a commodity.”

Including their latest Series C funding of $21 Million, to date, the company has raised a total of $33 Million from Elevation Capital, A91 Partners, India Quotient, RB Investments, and others. SUGAR Cosmetics has sold more than 15 million products to date and currently sells around 650,000 products each month. Its app has more than 1 million downloads, and its Instagram page has 1.1 million followers and every month their total engagement on social media is 250 million. With a retail footprint across 130+ cities in 10,000+ retail outlets, they have reached an annual turnover run rate of INR 200 crore. Their offline channels include exclusive brand stores, counters in large formal retail chains. The aim is to grow from 10,000 outlets to 40,000+ in the next 12-18 months while increasing app downloads from 1 mn to 4 mn consumers.

This year on International Women's Day, the beauty brand launched its first-ever product collaboration, the SUGAR X WONDER WOMAN collection after acquiring the rights from Warner Bros. Media for a period of 1 year from the launch.

 “Since most of our retail customers started shopping us online, this really helped us recover to pre covid levels by September and by November 2020, we had bouced to 150% of pre covid levels.”

(This article was first published in the March 2021 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)