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Nysaa, A Joint Venture Between UAE-Based Apparel Group And India-Based Nykaa, Makes A Stylish Debut In The GCC Both Nykaa and Apparel Group have come into this joint venture as powerhouses in their own right.

By Aby Sam Thomas Edited by Aby Thomas

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Selina Ved and Falguni Nayar are the founders and directors of Nysaa, a joint venture between UAE-based Apparel Group and India-based Nykaa.

For a UAE-born enterprise that calls itself "more than just a beauty omnichannel company," Nysaa certainly made heads turn when it staged a grand opening in March for its first store in the GCC at the City Centre Mirdif shopping mall in Dubai. Indeed, Nysaa's launch featured everything from a flurry of entertainers staging a flash mob, to appearances by internationally renowned celebrity makeup artists Fady Kataya and Bouba aka Hamza Slim.

Of course, all of this should not come as a surprise though, given that Nysaa is the result of a joint venture between two retail giants, UAE-based Apparel Group and India-based Nykaa. Apparel Group, which was founded by Sima Ved in 1996, is a global fashion and lifestyle retail conglomerate with operations across the GCC and further into India, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Egypt. Its repertoire of brands includes leading names in fashion, footwear, and lifestyle such as Tommy Hilfiger, Charles & Keith, Skechers, Aldo, Nine West, Aeropostale, Jamie's Italian, Tim Hortons, Cold Stone Creamery, Inglot, and Rituals.

Meanwhile, Nykaa, which was founded by Falguni Nayar in 2012, is India's largest omnichannel beauty destination, with consumers swearing by not just its online platform, but also its 174 offline destinations across the country. Plus, with its focus on innovation and consumer delight, Nykaa's house of brands -which includes renowned beauty labels like Kay Beauty, Nykaa Naturals, Nykaa Cosmetics, and Wanderlust, as well as fashion labels like Nykd, Gajra Gang, Likha, RSVP, and Pipa Bella- have ended up becoming household names in the Indian market.

Fady Kataya, Falguni Nayar, Sima Ved, and Bouba, aka Hamza Slim. Source: Nysaa

Both Nykaa and Apparel Group have thus come into this joint venture as powerhouses in their own right, and Nysaa is being led by Nayar herself as one of its two founders, with the other being Selina Ved, Sima's daughter, who, in 2021, had launched a social e-commerce beauty platform of her own called Nessa. And while Selina comes to Nysaa armed with lessons learnt from her journey with Nessa as well as the might of Apparel Group, Nayar brings with her more than a decade's worth of experience at Nykaa, which she famously launched when she was 50 years old, and then led it to become, in 2020, the first unicorn startup in India that was headed by a woman, and further to an initial public offering (IPO) the year after.

Speaking with Entrepreneur Middle East, Selina could not contain her excitement when talking about having Nayar by her side on the Nysaa journey. "I have always said, even before we even did this partnership, that Falguni is, like, my idol in this industry," Selina exclaims. "At the age of 50, when most people are planning their retirement, Falguni was, like, let me build something completely out of the ordinary for a market like India. So, even before we did this joint venture, I was in awe of Falguni. In fact, the day they went public, I was actually at their IPO launch party, and that day, I fangirled for a good 20-30 minutes before even approaching her to take a picture. She's an inspiration!"

Related: For The Love Of Shoes: How Sophia Webster Built Her Eponymous Luxury Accessories Brand

As exhilarated as Selina was at the launch of Nysaa, Nayar, on the other hand, appeared quite calm and composed at the store's opening; however, she too admitted to being extremely thrilled to see Nykaa cross yet another milestone in its trajectory as a business. "As you're aware, Nykaa has created the entire beauty industry in India, and it's been an immense success," Nayar notes. "And we have a very large e-commerce business, and a lot of stores, and a lot of brands, who trust us to do the right thing from a retail perspective. So, we saw an opportunity [to grow], and we also saw that the brands were ready to support us as we go to other markets. We also love the GCC market. It has everything- it has a high per capita income, it has young population, it loves beauty. But it's not a very familiar market, and so, we thought it'd be great to partner with Apparel Group. They trusted us, we trusted them, and we both brought the best of our skills to make this project happen. And today, we are so excited that our first store is launched, and it's looking really lovely, even if I may say so!"

Now, from Sima's perspective as the Chairwoman of Apparel Group, she sees Nysaa as the start of her enterprise's innings in an industry that is both exciting and rapidly growing in the region and beyond. "Apparel Group is in almost every consumer segment, be it fashion, be it footwear, be it F&B," Sima says. "We're now thinking that the beauty segment has enough space to have a solid player. The beauty market itself is thriving, and the GCC is, of course, a hub for beauty. No woman in the GCC walks out of the house without that little touch of either a concealer or a tinted skin moisturizer, something or the other. That's just the way we work! And so, it was a very organic step into beauty. But, as you know, with Apparel Group, everything is big and bigger, and so, we decided that we wanted to partner with someone like Nykaa and Falguni. We thought that she's done an incredible job with the brand, and we have so much faith in what the potential is; hence, we came together with them and launched Nysaa. It's my daughter who's spearheading the whole venture from our side, and it's Falguni on their side, and together, I think we're looking forward to disrupting the beauty industry."

A snapshot from the grand opening of Nysaa's first store in the GCC at the City Centre Mirdif shopping mall in Dubai in March 2024. Source: Nysaa

Such an ethos would thus explain Nysaa's long-term plan for its presence in the GCC. "I see us opening about 100 stores in the region," Nayar reveals. "Our big emphasis is on e-commerce, but with e-commerce, we build slowly, because it takes time to build websites, and get them into a functioning state. Similarly, we also have plans to bring more brands [on Nysaa]- I think that, today, we must be having about 50 brands, but I think going forward, maybe 80 to 100 brands could be in our stores. On our [online] platform, there are already more than 150 brands." From Apparel Group's perspective, Sima agrees with Nayar's notions about Nysaa's future, saying, "With Nysaa, I see it going the route of how all our brands go. I mean, we've got brands that have 150 stores; we have brands that have 250 stores. So, I see Nysaa growing as all our brands would, and going the same route- as we grow, we'll learn. The only difference is that in most of our other stores, it's one [brand] partner, and this one, there's multiple partners. That's the only key difference. Otherwise, I think Nysaa will grow as much as any of the other Apparel Group brands will."

Sima is thus eager to see how the future will unfold for Nysaa; as it turns out, that's what fuels her psyche as an entrepreneur. "I have such a short attention span, and so, I thank my stars that I'm part of a company that's constantly either reinventing, or renovating, or doing something new," she says. "Because, honestly, I don't think I could do the same-old, same-old every single day of my life. I want to be able to get up and say, 'Okay. I'm excited, something new is coming up.' That's what gets me going. I love newness, and that's what we keep doing."

Nysaa's growth prospects are undoubtedly exciting for Selina too; she's personally looking forward to it becoming a market leader in the space that it operates in. However, Selina also admits that her personal passion for beauty is going to be a key driver for her days ahead with the enterprise. Indeed, it was back when she was in university that Selina started making use of makeup to uplift herself, and now, she's eager to see others have similar experiences with the products that Nysaa will bring to them. "It's what my parents have been telling me from day one, and as cliche as it sounds, if you do what you love, it's not work every day," Selina says. "And I think that is what I've stuck with; to say, okay, this is something I love. I come to the store and I love it, because I know that if I come with no makeup, I leave with a full face [of it]."

Nayar, for her part, endorses Selina's standpoint, saying, "I think beauty is an exciting business. I've been in this business for 11 years now, and I really love the business; it's very exciting. It is an enabler for the youth to feel confident. I think Gen Z, millennials, etc., they love the category and the consumption. We call it affordable luxury- it's little pleasures, and it does tend to create a lot of excitement across all income and age groups. I think it's really a great industry to be in, and it feels good too." As such, when it comes to advice for other entrepreneurs who may want to enter this space (or any other sector, for that matter), one can look to Nayar's own trajectory as an entrepreneur to spur them ahead on their dreams. "I always say that if my journey is any inspiration, it's that age, gender, education, nothing comes in the way of what you want to do," Nayar declares. "I think, in many ways, neither age, nor gender, nor your background or even educational background, should come in the way of your ambition. I think it's all about the dream. Have big dreams, have the passion to pursue those dreams, and have, of course, the commitment to work at it."

Related: A Return To Roots: Black Flamingo Beauty Co-Founders Mona Gulaid And Mariam Abdillahi Have Created A UAE-Based Natural Skincare Brand That Pays Homage To Their Native Somaliland

Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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