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Katrina Kaif on Success, Beauty & Entrepreneurship The Actor & Beauty Mogul on why She Means Business

By Punita Sabharwal

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Entrepreneur India

Setting the new beauty standard

As soon as the scheduled call over Zoom begins with Actress Katrina Kaif about her rise as a businesswoman in the last three years, we knew the person on the other end of the conversation knows what she was talking about. After all, she means business. Kaif was clear about what she was getting into. The model and actress who started her acting career 20 years back has come out from the mould of just being an actor. Instead, we see a staunch businesswoman who knows where she's heading. Over the years, India has seen various celebrity associations in the beauty domain coming up, but none to the rise of Kay Beauty. As a woman, if I have to choose any celebrity beauty product I'm hooked on over the years, I won't have an answer but Kaif's beauty brand has surely made headway across beauty shelves reaching our vanity online and offline. Here's the superstar on getting her makeup line right.


We talk about Indian actors going outside and making a mark. In a similar fashion, yours has been a great story with you establishing your presence in Bollywood and being one of the top superstars of the country. How did things turn out for you and what got you attracted to India and Hindi cinema in particular?

I started out as a model here. And I remember being extremely fascinated by the industry and the supermodels of that time. I wanted to be part of big campaigns and walk on the ramp with them. I think that happened very quickly for me. As soon as I started auditioning, I was quite fortunate as I landed a lot of them. And very quickly I started working on some of the big campaigns and I was having a fantastic time. I think it's kind of a natural progression between the film industry and fashion industry as they are quite close to each other. And around a year later, I started getting offers for acting. And I felt that I had achieved what I wanted to as a model. I think it was very fascinating for me to want to be on that big screen, and be a part of the magic of making movies. Very quickly, I got to work on some wonderful films with some fantastic directors. One of the big breakthrough films for me was New York which had an amazing character, then Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani, Welcome, and Singh is King, and all these fantastic films which gave me that love from the audience. As my journey progressed through Ek Tha Tiger, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and all the wonderful films I was a part of, I think at that time my mind was wholly and solely focused on films and film making, there was no room in my mind for anything.
Around 2016-17, I was able to kind of really turn my focus to say that: there is this passion I've always had which is to start a beauty company. Makeup has always been a part of my life since a young age. I was always that girl who would go to makeup counters and play with textures and formulas. So in many of my early films and songs, I've done my own makeup, which a lot of people don't know. So, I kind of consider myself a makeup artist as well. And I knew I wanted to create my own cosmetics and beauty brand. It was out of that dream that Kay Beauty was born. For me, it was about bridging the gap which I saw in the market. There was a certain identity I wanted to create with Kay Beauty, which was a community where everyone could see themselves represented and where everyone is included. This is a company that appeals to women of colour, who will see their skin tone represented, and see that knowledge represented in terms of shade choices. So when you come to a Kay Beauty counter, you'll see that the range of colours and tones are specifically formulated for women of colour.

As a creative person, how did you navigate the path of entrepreneurship?
We launched Kay Beauty with Falguni Nayar, my long-term business manager Vivek Kamath introduced me to her and said I think I have the perfect partner for you. You need a strong partner who knows the beauty market and who knows the consumers. Falguni is such an inspiration for women, she's a pioneer, she's founded Nykaa, and I thought that was the perfect partner for me with Kay Beauty. And with Falguni, I met someone who shared my passion for makeup, for perfection, who loved me to give me creative freedom, respected what I brought to the table and what I wanted to create, and trusted me.

You had access to the best beauty products, what made you launch a makeup line, which won't just be another celebrity makeup line, but would do real business year-on-year as we have seen the last few years?
It's a two-part question. One was the gap I saw in terms of products, I did feel my intention was to create a brand that bridges the gap between really high-performance makeup and skincare but also where products are infused with skin-loving ingredients. When you talk about our bullet lipstick or any product, you will see each product has in it one or two ingredients that actually care for and nourishes your skin, as well as being highly pigmented, long-lasting, and delivering high performance. Because that was something that as an actress, I demand from my makeup. Makeup to me cannot just be about looking beautiful. It has to deliver in its pigment, texture, in its performance. Even recently, we launched our liquid lipsticks, and one of my friends who is a makeup artist was telling me, "Oh, my goodness, this is such an incredible product!" You put it on your lips and as soon as the product is set, it's in place, it just doesn't budge. You can drink water, you can drink coffee, you can eat, and it will not transfer. When we make a product, we ensure that it delivers.

How involved are you in product development, marketing, branding, and other growth aspects of the brand?
I'm extremely involved. I attend all the board meetings. I am involved in all stages, especially product development and campaigns. I have an incredible team who are able to support me and they execute my vision brilliantly as they understand where I am coming from. Each product category, big or small, caters to a large skin tone range and a very diverse consumer
base. So that is something I am really proud of. A few years before we actually got our formulas to pitch perfectly, I was so specific when I was creating the lip crayon. It has to be highly pigmented, but it should also moisturise your lips at the same time. I'm very particular about my lips not looking dry, but I demand from my product to get that beautiful-rich looking pigment. So to get all those formulas right was very tricky. The foundation had to be right for our climate, and our skin type as there is a lot of humidity. I am very particular about loose
powder. For me, it should set your makeup in place without looking cakey. And if you
require heavier powder, then we have compact powders for that. Getting all these right is not really work for me, it's passion. It's something I truly love. I don't think there is a makeup brand that I do not know of. I know all the brands; have seen all the textures, seen pretty much everything out there. If something is launched, I am the first person to look into it, to understand it. I think I use that passion and my experience in the industry and I try to create the products I know are going to deliver.

Your beauty brand has completed 3 years. How has this journey been as an entrepreneur?
One thing you also have to keep in mind is that 2 of these 3 years were peak lockdown Covid periods, where people were not shopping and makeup was not at the top of their minds during those trying times. This year is actually the first year where we have the complete freedom to go all out with our plans as they were pre covid. Because we launched in November 2019, and the lockdown hit in March 2020. That's just four months we had launched before Covid. And now in 2022, Jan 2022 we had a lot of difficulties, post that in these 12 months, we have been able to look into the on-ground, get back to our plans of increasing distribution, getting into modern store formats such as Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop, all that was part of our offline expansion plan which we were now able to get to post-covid.

What have been your learnings as an entrepreneur?
Enjoying the creative process is something I always knew I would enjoy. I love creating visually, so I love creating ad campaigns. I loved working on our first ad film and our first campaigns, digital campaigns, I mean that is something I work on personally, every little detail is done by me with the team. That's something that gives me immense joy and satisfaction. One thing
which I learned was to develop patience. Learning patience and creating a strong solid foundation is what's going to last and building up credibility step by step is going to get us there eventually. Going onwards as a company, we are going to keep pushing for product development, and fresher formats.

Tell us about Kay Beauty's global expansion plans.
I believe the sky's the limit. I would love to see Kay Beauty in beauty stores around the world. Right now we are concentrating on our India expansion plan, which is high on our priority, and alongside that, we will be expanding into some key international markets.


  • Katrina Kaif launched India's first celebrity makeup brand, Kay Beauty
  • Launched in 2019 in partnership with Nykaa
  • Kay Beauty is available across 1600 cities & 100 locations
  • 220 SKUs across lips, eyes, face & nail categories.
  • Best performing markets - Delhi NCR & Mumbai


Makeup: Scott Francis / Faze Creative Management Pvt Ltd.
Hairstylist: Gabriel Georgiou
Stylist: Ami Patel
Asst Stylist: Garima Garg
Photographer: Taras Taraporewala

(This article first appeared in the March 2023 edition of Entrepreneur India Magazine.)

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur India

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