Ghazal Alagh, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Mamaearth, has made her debut in Business Today’s much-awaited annual The Most Powerful Women in Business list.
Ghazal Alagh became an entrepreneur when she couldn’t find toxin-free baby products for her son. A mother’s desperation combined with a clear whitespace in the domestic babycare market prompted her (and her husband Varun Alagh) to start Mamaearth.
It was in 2016, when direct-to-consumer (D2C) was yet to become a catchphrase, that Mamaearth launched six baby products. Two years on, it expanded into categories like skincare and haircare, which today account for 80 per cent of its sales, according to a Jefferies report.
Listening to consumers helped Mamaearth gauge millennial mothers, who wanted toxin-free products for themselves, too. “Suddenly, from operating in babycare, which was fairly small, we started playing in FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and beauty & personal care, which was 10x larger,” says Gazal Alagh.
Today, Mamaearth services over 5 million customers in 500-odd cities. By 2022-end, Mamaearth parent Honasa Consumer (which also houses brands like The Derma Co, Aqualogica, Ayuga, BBlunt, Dr Sheth’s, and Momspresso) filed for an IPO; it is looking to raise Rs 400 crore.
It has been a long journey, says Ghazal Alagh, but made easier by “small milestones” along the way. “When the larger goal seems unachievable, the smaller milestones make it really easy,” she says.
“As founders, you end up doing everything in the initial five to six months of your start-up. It takes a lot of effort to step back and say ‘I have to let this go’. But, in the last three years, I’m trying [to delegate]...
... At a product level, I am still very hands-on, but at an execution level, I have taken a step back,” says Mamaearth’s Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer.
Ghazal Alagh is also an active angel investor, backing young start-ups primarily led by women. “It’s not just the money we put in, but it’s the value-add we’re able to bring because of having done that,” she says.