Making beauty-aids pay, naturally

MEERA SIVA NALINAKANTHI V | Updated on January 24, 2018



Manisha Chopra’s SeaSoul sells skin-care products from natural ingredients

Imagine walking into your friend’s wedding and walking out an entrepreneur. Sounds impossible? That is what happened to Manisha Chopra, an engineer who was working in a bank in Australia. Stepping in for the makeup artist, who did not show up, at her friend’s marriage turned out to be a life changer. The success of her bridal makeup put her on the path to developing an array of skin care products with natural ingredients that are currently used in 2,500 salons in India, Australia and Dubai.

“My mom was a beautician and I had won awards as a henna artist and was the runner-up Miss Delhi in 2001. I got rave reviews after my maiden bridal make-up and it rekindled my passion,” she says.

Not skin deep

Manisha pursued her interest seriously. She learnt the latest techniques from experts such as Ray Morris in Australia (brand ambassador for L’oreal), Kevin James Bennet of the US and Sharon Blain for Hair. “My baby boy had eczema, a dry skin condition. That made me take interest in cosmetology as I looked for creams and moisturisers for him,” she says.

She was convinced that chemicals used in skin care products are harmful, and set out in search of natural ingredients.

“I looked at goji berries for their anti-ageing property, noni from Hawaii for its healing, spa mud from New Zealand, minerals from the Dead Sea in Israel and Argan oil from Morocco,” she details.

She came up with an innovative idea for a massage product for eczema care.

The natural oil, minerals and vegetable wax are made in the form of a candle that is lighted. The melted wax is used for massage. This was a unique product and first of its kind globally.

“I consulted with scientists from Israel, France and Australia to formulate and test the new product,” she says.

The candles, launched under the SeaSoul brand in 2012, were a big success.

“My son had 80 per cent relief from using it,” she says cheerfully. Manisha moved to India in 2013 and added more products to the SeaSoul line. She continues to engage with global experts for designing, developing and testing new products.

Growing naturally

SeaSoul has 90 products, including soaps, facial creams and body creams. It takes a minimum of six months to create a product, test it and get it certified, according to Manisha. Business has been growing and she expects revenues to grow three-fold within a year.

So what’s driving SeaSoul’s success? For one, the focus on reducing harmful chemicals is appealing to customers. “Our products are free from Paraben, sulphates and many bleaching agents that are all harmful, but widely used in cosmetics,” she explains.

Veena Kumaravel, founder of Naturals, a salon chain with 460 outlets that uses SeaSoul products, agrees.

“SeaSoul’s products are safe on the skin and we are confident of recommending it to our customers. There are not too many players who have a whole range of products including skin, spa, pedicure, at home care and single use packs,” she says.

Many international brands offer beauty care products with natural ingredients. “These typically address skin issues seen abroad. Indian skin problems are different. For example, blackheads caused due to pollution require different kind of product,” explains Manisha.

Her strategy to work with salons is helping build trust among clients.

“People trust beauticians for advice. Based on the skin type and the issue faced, they offer client-specific recommendations,” explains Kumaravel. This helps in having repeat customers.

Glowing future

From 1,000 clients and presence in 2,500 salons in the country, SeaSoul is expected to reach 10,000 salons in a year. “We plan to add 15 products shortly and enter the make-up segment soon. We are looking to have 150 products in our portfolio in 2015-16,” says Manisha.

SeaSoul has a manufacturing facility in Israel and started an 8,000 sq ft plant in Gurgaon last year. The company earns 10 per cent of its income from Australia and Dubai. The 60-employee company has been running a boot-strapped operation so far. “We are looking for funding to expand in India and overseas,” says Manisha. Her husband, Sankalp Chopra, who is a co-founder, will be joining SeaSoul to spearhead business development. With natural, chemical-free cosmetic brands finding more favour among women, Manisha urges consumers to read the ingredient list and understand what the product really contains, before using it.

Published on July 27, 2015

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