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This Husband-Wife Duo's Startup Is Gaining Market In Beauty Organic Products The startup in 2014 generated revenue of INR 17 lakhs and six years later generated revenue worth INR 25 crores - a 400 per cent rise

By Debarghya Sil

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Juicy Chemistry
Megha & Pritesh Asher; Co-founders of Juicy Chemistry

Over the past few years, a new beauty products market has blossomed side-by-side. There was a visible shift from chemical-rich and artificial beauty products to more natural or rather "chemical-free' beauty products, widely known as organic products. Million-dollar companies which once used to flamboyantly telecast their ads with chemicals from all over the periodic tables are now showcasing their products made up from plant extracts. As the pattern has discernibly changed, India, a country that is known to have used plant extracts for medicinal purposes centuries back, has also seen the growth of companies in the field.

One of such companies that have observed the trend and quickly called their shots is Coimbatore-based Juicy Chemistry. In an interaction with Entrepreneur India, Pritesh Asher, co-founder and chief executive officer of Juicy Chemistry talks about the trends in the industry and the future of the brand.

When Kitchen Turned Into Office

It all started in a 10x10 kitchen space and a Facebook page, Asher said. Juicy Chemistry was co-founded by husband-wife duo Megha and Pritesh Asher in 2014. Before that Asher looked after a family business of manufacturing industrial lubricants, whereas Megha worked and managed her fashion line. Asher recalled that before 2014, the petrochemicals industry was disorganized which led to severe loss in the family business.

Frustrated with the family business, Asher was on the lookout for something else. It is then when Megha, who was suffering from hyper-sensitive and acne-prone skin wanted to try organic products. It is at this point she encountered a salesperson who was trying to sell natural products. After reading the ingredients, Asher realized that some ingredients were used by his company at their petroleum products manufacturing unit as raw materials.

This realization made the duo who were looking to venture into a new space to come up with a beauty brand on their own.

"The idea of Juicy Chemistry originated from the need to make products that harnessed natural ingredients and that could deliver results. We also felt a strong need to educate and sensitise the Indian consumers as to what terms such as "organic' and "natural' even stand for," added Asher.

The startup was bootstrapped till 2019, it raised its Series A round worth $7 million in 2021, which was led by Belgium-based investment firm Verlinvest.

From Body Butter To Delivering in 20K Pincodes

Asher recalls that initial years into the business were tough. "It was just the two of us for quite some time. Our first product was body butter and we struggled for quite a while. We'd attend exhibitions and fairs to showcase our products and gradually build our consumer base," he added.

The company claims that its products are preservative-free and are primarily anhydrous formulations. Products such as their toners are made through steam distillation in a sterile environment, enabling them to remain contamination-free despite being preservative-free. Juicy Chemistry's soaps and cleansers are alkaline formulations and do not provide a conducive environment for bacterial growth.

He said that Juicy Chemistry's products are in the premium beauty category. The company's products are primarily targeted to the age group of between 18 and 44 and are unisex. Asher reasoned that beauty is largely targeted towards women, but his brand doesn't want to follow that approach.

"Why should pampering your body and taking care of your hair and skin be limited to only women?" he questioned.

The company which was initially selling its products on Amazon has now its website and delivers in over 20,000 pin codes in the country. Most of the revenue it generates comes from orders placed in Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Bangalore. The startup at present caters to 1250-1500 couriers a day and an average cart value of INR 1400.

One Step Back, 2 Steps Front

The startup boasts that it follows a backward integrated approach, which means bypassing middlemen and working with small-scale farmers to procure fresh ingredients. The onset of the pandemic caught most of us by surprise. A few weeks of lockdown was in sight as the situation worsens, but nobody predicted the lockdown will go on for months. Lockdown was crucial but enacted as a grim reaper for business across industries. Every business faced the heat of the havoc brought on us by the virus. Juicy Chemistry, which had laid down plans for 2020, had to halt them. The company wanted to strengthen its offline presence and expand its organic product portfolio.

With the imposition of lockdown, the startup's supply chain took a hit at every step.

"We source our ingredients from different countries across the globe and due to border closures, shipments were delayed. As a brand, we rely on the fresh bio-active nature of our beautiful organic produce so these closures were a concern for us," he added.

The only retail store of the brand in Coimbatore had to pull its shutter. However, the startup soon went for a digital-first approach and revamped its website, enhanced user experience and strengthened its social media presence. The company through social media conducted multiple campaigns, collaborations, and lives to keep its community active and engaged.

The startup's sales for the first half of 2020 were down, but from May orders started coming in.

"We experienced a 150 per cent jump in terms of orders followed by a 350 per cent jump in July. In the year 2019, we generated a revenue of INR 6.5 crore and have ended 2020 with a revenue of INR 25 crores - a 400 per cent rise."

In the year 2021, the startup has noticed a dip in the demand but is confident that there will be a rebound in the next quarter.

Juicy Chemistry is targeting to close the year with a revenue of INR 100 crore and in the future looking to expand its presence in international markets such as American and European markets - particularly France and capitalize on their existing growth in Australia.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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