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Focus on holistic lifestyle helped this Ayurvedic skincare startup grow amid the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic trained the spotlight on Ayurveda like never before. Across India, people turned to one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems in an effort to stay healthy and fit. Alongside, more and more people jumped on to the online bandwagon – entertainment, bill payment, shopping, everything took a digital twist.  

Delhi-based pharmacist Sanchit Sharma decided to blend both these opportunities to start an Ayurvedic skincare startup. Sanchit, who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for at least nine years, says people have finally started understanding the importance of Ayurveda due to the pandemic.

“This is the time for us to be in the market,” he says. 

A Phd-holder from Jamia Hamdard University, Sanchit moved out from his family business pharma business, AIMIL Pharmaceuticals, and started Delhi-based D2C startup Ayouthveda in March 2020. The team launched products that are completely natural, and free from chemicals such as silicon and paraben. 

“Ayurveda has now become a lifestyle. People use herbal products in their daily lives and with the pandemic putting focus on preventive healthcare, the penetration is only going to grow,” Sanchit says. 

The startup, which began with seven people, currently has a 100-people team. The founder believes they entered the market at the right time, though the pandemic-led lockdowns and changing purchase patterns did shift things in different directions for the firm.

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Ayouthveda, which started with beauty  and hygiene products, quickly shifted gears and decided to launch more hygiene-focused products that were the need of the hour. These include women’s intimate wash, hand wash liquid, handmade soaps, and men’s pH wash, among others. Currently, the firm sells 42 stock keeping units (SKUs) across seven to eight categories including hair, body, and bath. 

This quick pivot helped the firm rake in Rs 12 crore in annual revenue for FY21. Ayouthveda also claims to be witnessing quarter-on-quarter growth of 30 percent, and a customer repeat rate of 22 percent.  

Currently, the firm is also facing a major brand recognition challenge as the competition in the skincare and grooming space is extremely high. Older players including Sequoia-backed Mamaearth, five-year-old Wow Skin Science, Forest Essentials, and Khadi get more traffic compared to a year-old brand. 

“Our brand is focused on the younger generation, who don’t recognise our brand yet as we are new to the market. But we are working on many brand-building initiatives,” Sanchit says. 

But, the future is bright. India’s skincare market is expected to annually grow by 8.52 percent between 2021 and 2025, according to Statista. And, with many people choosing “natural” and “Ayurveda”, Ayouthveda hopes to make a mark. 

Instead of focusing only on just the digital front, Ayouthveda is expanding into retail stores. The firm, which claims to be present across 15,000 physical stores across Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttarakhand, is planning to set up its own brand stores. Starting with 10, the firm aims to have at least 100 stores by the end of next year.    

Jammu and Kashmir is the biggest market for Ayouthveda as there is “more head room to grow since not many new-age brands have yet penetrated the market”, Sanchit says. 

The skincare startup is also looking to enter the western market, starting with Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Pune. 

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Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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