Sustainability has already become a buzzword in the world of business and entrepreneurship, but nowadays, it's also on everyone's lips in the beauty industry as many brands are venturing into the ethical eco-friendly market. From packaging to ingredients, people's interest is shifting towards sustainable green solutions that are eco-conscious whilst continuing with business as usual.
As this new COVID-19 pandemic created a huge wave of uncertainty for many businesses, leaving many in a tailspin, Anisha Oberoi begged to differ as she saw a great opportunity for her idea to shine. Knowing that ‘fortune favours the prepared mind,’ Anisha took on her behalf to spread awareness about Sustainable green beauty and introduce people to conscious beauty.
We had the pleasure to chat with Anisha to know more about sustainability and how she strived and thrived in creating her value-driven beauty tech platform, Secret Skin, during these irregular circumstances.
You have had an amazing career in marketing. How did you start your personal journey in the Beauty Industry? Tell us more about your motivation to launch Secret Skin.
When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change. I was struggling to find the right role after Amazon that would be as challenging and intellectually stimulating. I moved from India to UAE in 2019 with the intention to continue on the corporate career track but I had started to feel the spiritual struggle between Money and Meaning. Despite many efforts, I was not able to find a suitable fit in alignment with my skills and experience; and if I did, it was restrictive in its sphere of influence and opportunity to contribute to society. I had outgrown my past, hence the only way to move forward was with something of my own that I truly believed would make a difference to the world. Beauty was a natural fit, due to my experience with breast cancer. In hindsight, I feel I took the leap at the right time because COVID-19 changed the world as we knew it. We are standing between Catastrophe and Consciousness today, responsible for the way we conserve and protect the environment that we live in.
Secret Skin is my platform to channelize this ethos and authentically work towards making the world more aware of the importance of Mindful living.
On Instagram, you identified yourself as a sustainability advocate, Digital Fashion & Beauty, food & travel writer, Gastro-gladiator, Skincare Junkie. But aside from all of that, how would you describe yourself in 3 words?
MAKING IT HAPPEN.
We’re living in a serious economic downturn. Lots of businesses are suffering and many have even closed, but on the other bright side, you are brave enough to decide to open up a venture. What is it like to open a new business during a pandemic? What were the challenges or roadblocks you faced when building the brand, and how did you overcome them?
I remember a bank refusing to allow us a particular payment gateway because we didn’t have an office, and they didn’t approve of the Flexi-desk attached to our license in the early days. We also experienced COVID-related delays in receiving our shipments because they were not considered a priority due to pandemic-related guidelines. We have bootstrapped hence funding was/continues to be an arduous process. I am new to the region so there was a steep learning curve with regard to navigating the government regulations that applied to local businesses that import from abroad. We were able to pivot and mitigate risks quickly as a result of our determination to launch, and the right advice from our mentors, legal counsel, and the community support offered by STRIP, Sharjah where we are incorporated.
Tell us more about how you identify and choose the brands that you want to feature in Secret Skin?
It was a hustle through Instagram to curate the assortment, mildly put, given that the pandemic had struck in waves across the world and social distancing had become the norm. I researched global brands in the clean beauty space - many of which I had started to use myself in my quest to make the switch in the last few years. I read up on their underlying philosophies and product lines, how transparent they were about their sustainability processes, ingredients and claims, their press coverage. Etc. I then connected with the Founders on LinkedIn or IG and set up zoom meetings to present my vision in the hope that they would partner if the synergies were aligned. It was a steep learning curve but quite rewarding in the richness of experience. We signed on more brands every month with the same approach but it got easier as the portfolio increased with marquee brands trusting us to introduce them to the Middle East.
What makes your Secret Skin standout in the beauty industry?
Secret Skin is a discovery platform that connects mindful consumers to Conscious beauty brands from around the world, built on a framework that focuses on social and environmental impact. We want to build Secret Skin differently than traditional beauty business models. Yes, we will have beautiful global brands for the UAE customer to discover, but more importantly, our purpose is to promote women’s health in a more engaging, immersive manner. We will achieve this by spreading awareness and education, by forging partnerships to create a unique ecosystem that empowers women to manage and take charge of their health, wellness, and beauty in a more holistic manner. We also want to create a community of Clean Crusaders; through our Eco-Rewards program and recycling, the app interface our mission is to curb single-use plastic consumption and thus reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.
Sustainability is now a buzz word everywhere as more people are becoming more conscious about what they are consuming– how it affects their health and our environment. Let’s assume that a person wanted to make a transformation towards clean beauty, what are the top 3 products you recommend swapping first? And why?
Scan your shelf and make the easy switches first; most clean brands carry the below alternatives:
Sulphate-free Shampoo & Conditioners that don’t foam due to the absence of synthetic ingredients
Facial Cleansers that keep your acid mantle and PH in balance
Hydrosols over CFC-releasing Aerosols that are notorious for their contribution to global warming
I believe in the power of meditation, exercise, and nutrition that specifically works for you.
What’s your personal wellbeing and wellness philosophy?
For me, it’s more holistic than just a good skincare routine. I believe in the power of meditation, exercise, and nutrition that specifically works for you. I’m affectionate by nature and need to stay closely connected to loved ones to stay even-keeled and anxiety-free. Doing things for others makes me feel grateful and satisfied. I believe in Love, Clarity and Reciprocity: that’s what I seek and that’s what you can expect from me.
As a triumphant cancer fighter, what kept your spirits up and gave you support through this tough patch of your journey?
I think it was my stubbornness that kept me alive. I had phases where I felt strong enough to power through another day, and then days when I would crawl into a dark hole of despair and desolation. I questioned my future, my ability to live a good quality of life, my body’s capability to bear children. I felt insecure and compared myself to others whom I saw as being happier than myself. I had to put myself together piece by piece, every day, every year. I truly believe that every person has to go through something that absolutely destroys them to figure out who they really are. During your transformation with cancer, you may feel like everything is falling apart, but in reality, everything's coming together for your highest good. You’re being pushed to evolve and get out of your comfort zone so that you can live and experience your true greatness by welcoming change.
Welcome to AlBawaba Business time machine! Buckle up your seat belt and let's skip forward. Where do you hope the business will be 10 years from today?
I don’t make 10-year plans. We went from inception to launch in 7 months so I’m confident that we will continue to be a young, agile mission-driven business that fails fast and scales fast; one that will surge forward every year to find new opportunities to reach customers in different geographies and create that impact for the world, and affinity for the brand. Since we are a Beauty Tech company we aim to scale using interactive tech innovations to address the demands of the future.
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