Startup Spotlight: Selina Ved's Nessa Wants To Help Consumers Make Informed Decisions While Shopping For Beauty Brands Online
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“Every great business opportunity starts with solving your own problem.” That’s how Selina Ved, founder of UAE-based social commerce platform Nessa, answers when asked what prompted her to launch her own business. Ved, who is self-admittedly a massive makeup enthusiast, says that she’d often faced issues in the past when trying to find accurate reviews or information on a particular beauty brand while shopping online. “I wanted to check every item review, tutorial and figure out how to use each product, and I realized I had to go on to many different sites before I made a purchase,” she says. “Nessa’s mission, therefore, is to be the first social commerce app and website that helps educate and guide customers on how to use each beauty product bought from the website, while providing genuine customer reviews.”
Launched earlier this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nessa’s business model is fairly straightforward- it is an online portal that features both renowned as well as upcoming beauty brands, while also providing the user with information and customer reviews on each of them and its many featured products. The user can also browse through related beauty products, much like most common e-commerce platforms. But what’s different about Nessa’s site is that the users can simultaneously also browse through blogs and tutorials from beauty influencers and makeup artists in the MENA region.
Selina Ved, founder of UAE-based social commerce platform Nessa.
These influencers have their own designated pages on the site, which showcases basic information on them, their makeup and fashion video tutorials, and their personal favorite products. “Nessa is a platform for beauty brands from across the world that cater to Middle Eastern women,” Ved explains. “Our aim is to also provide a platform and increase awareness of unique international brands that have not been exposed to this region yet. We work closely with companies such as Loreal and COTY, as well as niche ayurvedic brands from India that our customers here love.”
Another detail worth noting about Nessa is that it’s a brand that falls under the well-known UAE-based fashion and lifestyle brand conglomerate, Apparel Group. “Nessa came to be under Apparel Group, because it’s my family's business,” Ved explains. “My passion for beauty started there, because I had the opportunity to learn about the beauty industry through our brands. This gave me the confidence to launch a unique e-commerce brand under its portfolio, with the potential of going brick and mortar in the future.”
The possibility of Ved taking forward her idea of launching Nessa as a physical store is not implausible at the moment. With more people getting vaccinated and the general public seemingly returning to normal life, albeit with safety precautions, it could well come to fruition soon. But Ved feels that the pandemic has led to changed consumer psychologies, and that e-commerce is here to stay for the long run.
“Going forward, it is possible that a certain percentage of people may eventually return to shopping in physical stores, but in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, our community has experienced expedited digital trends where the retail industry has had to adjust to current consumer behavior,” Ved says. “Many buyers had to resort to online shopping amid the pandemic, but buying beauty products online is typically a ‘hit or a miss’ for most customers, since beauty products require to be swatched and directly tested on the skin. Nessa, therefore, provides them with guidance on which product is most suitable for their skin, bringing peace of mind during the online shopping experience.”
Ved says that while being under the Apparel Group has provided Nessa with a safety net, the idea of raising funds for her firm is something she is still fiddling with. “Starting Nessa has allowed me to reach outside my comfort zone, but, as I’ve been told, the true mark and journey of an entrepreneur needs to involve the ability to pitch and secure investors- as a result, it is on my ‘must-learn to-do’ list,” she concludes.
‘TREP TALK: SELINA VED, FOUNDER, NESSA
Amid all the current technological disruptions, do you have any methods to ensure there is still a human connection with your customer base?
“Any business that is going to ignore implementing emerging trends within their business model will lose out in the future. Integrating technology with an industry that still depends on a human connection will help the customer discover relevant information and products customized for their needs. But no matter how much innovation occurs, one thing is certain: customers still want to see the products on humans. To me, makeup is emotion, and no amount of technological innovation can replace the glint in a woman's eye when she has the right eyeliner or lipstick on.”
What are the tips you’d give someone who is looking to start out their own entrepreneurial journey, particularly in the beauty industry?
1. Find a problem to solve, and dream big. Don’t stress about capital. As long as you have a vision, capital will follow.
2. Look for people to support you. Find a mentor. Create and utilize relationship capital, that’s what will set you apart from your competition.