“I feel fortunate to be able to build a community of consumers who believe in our purpose and invest in our products to support our cause.”
Ghazal Alagh (Co-Founder &Chief Innovation Officer, Mamaearth)
Driven by passion and enthusiasm for making early parenting trouble-free, A Corporate Trainer turned Artist, Ghazal Alagh Co-Founded a purpose-led brand Mamaearth in September 2016.
Ghazal is responsible for product development, content, and community management in the company. She works closely with a number of mothers to develop a product line that addresses the troubles that moms struggle with on a daily basis.
She has recently appeared in a reality show named Shark Tank India as a judge and is, therefore, becoming a household name. There’s art in her story and magic in her brand. As the Co–Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of today’s highly admired personal care brand, Ghazal’s life as an entrepreneur has not been about expecting, hoping and wishing, but about doing, being, and becoming. In an exclusive interview, Ghazal shared insights about her journey, brand, clientele and many more.
Give us a glimpse of yourself and walk us through your journey on becoming an entrepreneur.
The journey started with a personal experience. When Varun and I had our first child, we started looking for chemical-free products for our baby, but we could not find options that were easily available in India. We mostly ended up importing baby care products or asking friends to bring carry them, which was both expensive and time-consuming. Identifying this gap, we ultimately decided to incept Mamaearth and venture into ‘Toxin-free’ baby care products. While we started as a brand for baby care products, we soon realized that most millennials were looking for safe and toxin-free products for themselves too. Hence, we diversified into personal care products for adults as well.
We have over 140+ products in Mamaearth itself. Understanding the millennial concerns, we have launched 3 more purpose-led brands – The Derma Co, a science-based active skincare brand followed by Aqualogica, a hydration based brand created uniquely for Indian skin. Recently we launched Ayuga, an Ayurveda based skincare brand creating a perfect blend of recipes and rituals.
What fascinates you the most about the entrepreneurial world?
What enchants me about the entrepreneurial world is my ability to create brands that solve millennial concerns through our products and purpose.
I feel fortunate to be able to build a community of consumers who believe in our purpose and invest in our products to support our cause.
What hurdles did you face while building your career? How did you overcome them in order to succeed?
Before becoming a mompreneur, I was pursuing my career as a trainer and an artist. After graduating with a BCA degree in Information Technology, I became a corporate trainer at NIIT. I parallelly nurtured the artist in me and pursued a course in Figurative Art from the New York Academy of Art. When we started Mamaearth, we realized that there were a lot of parents like us who were looking for toxin-free products and they were our early adopters. However, as we scaled, we realized that in India educating people about toxins and the benefits of toxin-free products was important. But we were committed to the goal we were set out to achieve, and with the support of our family, business associates, and millennials like us, we have been able to contribute towards providing safe and toxin-free products to our consumers today. I firmly believe, ‘The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.’
What is your leadership philosophy? What factors do you keep in mind while taking business decisions?
I strongly believe that to get the best out of people, you need to empower them and entrust them with responsibility and ownership of projects. I have seen that when people feel ownership of projects, they tend to perform better and display stretch in their capabilities.
While taking business decisions, I always take a step back to disconnect from the situation to have a more objective approach towards the situation.
Briefly describe your company and the products or services you are offering.
Honasa is an acronym for Honest, Nature, and Safe. Established in 2016, Honasa Consumer Pvt Limited (HCPL), is a digital-first consumer brands company creating the FMCG conglomerate of the future. An organization built on the values of Honesty, Natural ingredients and Safe care, HCPL caters to the needs of millennial consumers through innovative products, evolved propositions, Direct to Consumer marketing, and e-commerce fulfilment.
Currently, catering to over 500 cities in India with brands like Mamaearth, The Derma Co., Aqualogica and Ayuga, HCPL is building an ecosystem that helps benefit the consumers and community at large. Over the last 5 years, we have been able to build a strong portfolio of 140+ products under Mamaearth and 40+ under The Derma Co.
What is the USP of the company? How important it is to keep an eye on one’s competitors?
A keen understanding of the millennial ecosystem and our digital-first approach with our brands help us stay ahead. We keep our consumers at the centre and focus on them and try to innovate on the basis of what the consumers demand and not what other brands are doing.
Who are your clients? How do you develop strong & positive client relationships?
Everyone with access to the internet is our consumer across India. Being a digital-first brand, we are directly connected with our consumers through our platform, and we engage with them continuously to understand their requirements and seek feedback on the products we deliver to our consumers. This helps us innovate with consumer inputs and upgrade products.
What are the core values of your company? How do you establish efficient coordination and mediate on the company’s values within all levels of the organization?
Honasa Consumer has been built on the principles of Honesty, Natural and Safety, and the brands have been created with these principles as the foundation and the purpose at the core. Mamaearth believes that goodness starts with the small things that each one of us can do every day! It resides in the little choices we make in our daily lives.
The brand added goodness inside its products by being animal cruelty-free (PETA certified), toxin-free and plastic positive. It was time to choose goodness for the environment and make their contribution towards restoring the ecological balance. Similarly, The Derma Co. was created to educate consumers about science, Aqualogica was launched with the purpose of providing clean drinking water to those who don’t have access to it and Ayuga was launched with the purpose of reimagining Ayurveda in skincare for millennials.
As a source of inspiration for many, what would your advice be for women, who also want to become an entrepreneur?
Women need to support each other, that is how we, as a gender, will grow. Women, today, are capable of doing any job, as well or even better than men. It’s all about giving them an opportunity.
One thing I would like to tell everyone is that if you are passionate about it, go for it. Don’t get bogged down by what people are saying, if you believe it, go achieve it.
Mention the awards and milestones received by your company so far.
- Over the years, we have shaped HCPL into a high performing inspirational workplace with over 400 employees while winning “Great places to work” certification 2 times in a row.
- Launched over 140 products under Mamaearth and 40+ products under The Derma Co. in 5 years since the inception
- Mamaearth’s product innovation led to the brand winning the award for Nielsen BASES Breakthrough Innovations 2020- India Winners
Share a quote that inspires you every day.
“Women need to shift from thinking “I am not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that, and I’ll learn by doing it.” Sheryl Sandberg