It took eight years of dabbling in HR solutions, lingerie and subscription-based beauty e-commerce, racking her brains trying to nail the right product-market fit, before Vineeta Singh and her Co-founder husband Kaushik Mukherjee decided to make and sell liquid matte lipsticks. Thus was born SUGAR Cosmetics—a digital beauty brand for the millennial woman.
That was 2015, when the D2C (direct to consumer) wave had just begun, and SUGAR rode the wave to rake in Rs 100 crore revenues in FY20. "Everybody said, 'You're competing in a sector with all the big daddies from Unilever to P&G to L'Oreal. It is silly to operate in a space that is so commoditised'. But we had started seeing what other big brands had not, which is how a product can become a hero instead of a commodity, and how social media and e-commerce were changing the way women and millennials discover beauty," says Singh, the CEO and Co-founder.
She says SUGAR, which has estimated Rs 130 crore revenue for FY21, has hit an annual run rate of Rs 500 crore as of November 2021. With more than a million app downloads on iOS and Android and 1.7 million-plus Instagram followers, the brand has also set up retail touch points in 35,000+ outlets, and raised $21 million in series C funding in early 2021. The IIT/IIM alumnus is inspired by peer Falguni Nayar-founded Nykaa's stock market debut. Her own goal is to build a Rs 5,000-crore company in four-five years and go public, "so that we can run the business for the next 10-20 years and give our investors an exit". Clearly, she's warming up for a marathon.
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