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What Made Samara Capital Invest INR 200 Cr in This Homegrown Skin Care Brand In the late 90s in India, when other cosmetic brands of the time remained oblivious of the presence of millions of micro women entrepreneurs running beauty salons, this husband-wife duo laid the foundation of their cosmetic business, which today has a valuation of INR 300 Crore.

By Mohit Sabharwal

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Nature's Essence, in its initial years, struggled to clock INR 25,000 a month. But, in a deal today, a mid-market PE firm, Samara Capital, bought 60% stake for INR 200 Crore in the homegrown skincare brand, taking its valuation to INR 300 Crore. Entreprenur brings you the amazing journey of this behemoth beauty brand of today, nurtured together by a husband-wife duo 20 years ago.

Circa 1998, after spending nearly two decades working in pharmaceutical industry, when Raj Kumar Nanda, in his mid-forties, decided to leave his job to start a business of manufacturing cosmetics, his wife, Neelam Nanda, did not mutter any concerns. Instead, she stood by him like a rock-solid support.

Recalling the beginnings of his brainchild, Nature's Essence, which is now a leading cosmetic brand in India, Mr Nanda says, "In the early 90s, I sensed a business opportunity in making cosmetic products for the beauty parlour segment in India." The beauty salons in those times, according to him, were looked down upon and the only two cosmetic giants of those times--Ayur and Shahnaz Husain, were catering to lower and higher strata of the society, in their respective capacities.

When Mr Nanda shared his desire of building a business out of this glaring market gap, Mrs Nanda immediately came on board to help her husband act on his vision. "She sold all her personal property and savings for me to invest", Mr Nanda recalls while tracing the beginnings of Nature's Essence.

Combined with some personal savings, Mr Nanda took a manufacturing unit on lease and got few beauty samples made in his close supervision. He further decided to tour India to meet and exhibit his products to the prospective clients--women running beauty salons. Within five years of the launch, the grassroot level marketing strategy of Nature's Essence made it a hit in the beauty parlour market segment in India.

With the expanding business and increasing workload, Mr Nanda requested his wife to leave her government job and join the business full time. "While I travelled every nook and corner of the country for sales, my wife back home, looked after the factory, production and employees", shares Mr Nanda .

Today, the duo has brought Nature's Essence to great heights. While it once struggled to earn INR 25,000 per month, today, it has network of over 3000 distributors, employs 2000 people and clocked a turnover of INR 200 crore in FY18.

With the new funds, Nature's Essence would be poised well to further strengthen its marketing and distribution channels in the wellness and beauty FMCG space against its compeititors.

Mohit Sabharwal

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India Magazine

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