All of us are unique in our own ways, and so is our skin which deserves a routine of its own, with products that suit it the best. And Swa Skin is here to help you with this!
With all organic and natural ingredients Swa Skin, an Indian skincare & healthcare brand founded by Ms. Nishita Agarwal offers all the products you need for healthy skin & hair. Not only that, Swa Skin also provides tips to help you create your perfect skin care routine. Whether your skin is sensitive, dry or acne-prone, you’ll find tips as well as products for all your concerns.
Read our conversation with Ms. Agarwal to know more about her journey and her entrepreneurial venture, Swa Skin!
Can you give us a brief introduction of your venture? How did its concept come about?
Swa Skin is a skincare brand that handcrafts affordable luxury skincare products using organic and natural ingredients to enhance the everyday bathing experience.We have been in the market since 2018 and offer almost everything in terms of skincare. Our range of products includes soaps, shower gels, face wash, shampoos, lip care (lip balms, lip scrubs, lip sticks), eye care, masks, packs, scrubs, whipped body butters, bath soaks, baby products and more. We also curate hampers for gifting & special occasions like weddings, bachelorettes, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Talking about the concept, it is quite a personal journey. I worked as an architect and had long working hours and a hectic life. My skin was suffering and the products available in the market made it worse. I came across a workshop on Facebook on making your own organic soap. I applied what I learned from the session and believe me it worked like a charm. I became interested in what goes in making skincare products which is when I learnt that most of the products available in the market have questionable ingredients that do more harm than good. I started making my own skincare products and gave some to my friends and family to test. They too felt a huge difference. That is when I thought that I need to share this new found knowledge with everyone while channelizing my creativity as an architect. I started Swa Skin with organic soaps and over time more products were added to the product line, based on market research as well as on the request of our customers.
Why do you prefer a made-to-orders format of sales over maintaining a stock?
We have a large variety of products and we work with natural raw materials. Every person’s skin is different so we cater to a lot of customization for a large number of orders. I also strongly believe that my customers should get fresh products, not items lying in the stock for months. These are the major reasons for our made to order policy. In addition we would require a lot of space if we were to maintain a stock of each product.
What about the shelf life for your organic products?
At Swa Skin, we like to keep preservative usage to a minimum. Hence many of our products like the masks and packs are in powder form because as soon as water is added to a skincare product, it is susceptible to mold and bacteria. We use Ecocert preservatives for the products that do require a preservative. The shelf life hence ranges from 1-3 years.
How did you source/formulate the recipes for your products?
A lot of research goes into the process of formulating recipes for the final product. We study the products that are existing in the market and their natural ingredients. Since we also customize products, the recipes are developed according to the customers’ needs after extensive research and trial. Recently we made a natural intimate wash for one of our loyal customers. I looked up the ingredients and with a lot of trial and error in the process we finally came up with the one most suitable for our client. We feel very proud of the trust we have gathered from our clients. Also, I must say three years of experience in the industry has helped me a lot to learn about different types of natural ingredients.
Who are your allies in running the venture?
It’s actually a one-woman show. I handle and look after everything from research , manufacture, packaging, marketing, sales & customer support. However, I have recently hired a graphic designer who helps me with the content I put out on instagram.
In terms of financial gain, was your architectural job better or this?
To be honest, architecture is not a well-paying profession! I tried freelancing also but it did not work well for me as my creative boundaries were limited. Whereas being a founder of Swa Skin has been fulfilling in both creative and financial terms. It is definitely satisfying to be your own boss.
What are your channels for marketing?
It has to be social media, Instagram to be specific. We do have a Facebook page but we are not focusing on it for sales. Both these platforms require different kinds of content & strategy and since I am handling everything I focus on Instagram more. I think my target customers who believe in the eco-friendly motto have a much wider presence on Instagram so it’s easier to reach out to them there.
Who are your target customers?
We have some strong basic ethics and principles which we try to stick to. We believe that organic ingredients can solve most skincare issues, and it isn’t necessary to resort to harmful or potentially harmful ones in order to have healthy skin. Also, we are a minimum plastic initiative where our plastic usage is to a bare minimum (we are trying to go completely plastic free).
People who can resonate with these principles are our target customers. Also, people who are open to trying out our products are also our target customers. .
Can you highlight one or two common chemicals used in chemical-based skincare products and their side effects?
Many chemicals used in personal care products are either proven carcinogenic or are potential carcinogens. Many ingredients do not have enough research done on them to be declared harmful or not as well. The products available in the market have both these kinds of ingredients on them. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is one such ingredient which is used for lathering purposes. Parabens are another common ingredient which are preservatives.. They cause irritation to some, whereas for others, long term use can alter their skin type to make it more dry. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative too which could be neurotoxic as per some researches. A lot of companies who claim their products to be organic and natural sadly use them.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?
The most crucial challenge for me has to be time management. Since it is only me handling all aspects of business, it is hard to have everything accomplished on time, so there is always something to catch up to. I have hired a graphic designer, who has been a huge support system mainly in terms of implementing my ideas and presenting them visually.
Another challenge was coming up with a proper name for my venture that would reflect the true purpose of the business. The reason why I named it Swa is because these are skincare products for self-care and in Sanskrit “Swa” means self. I have considered a lot of names for my venture however at the end we settled to name it Swa Skin.
Also, putting across your idea and motive forward is another challenge. No doubt people have become a lot more aware about the ingredients used in their skincare products, but I do feel a huge section of the society is still ignorant about the chemicals that go into their personal care products.
How did you raise the investment for Swa Skin?
Swa Skin has minimal administrative cost. I have only one team member to pay and since this is a home based business I don’t have rent expenses. Likewise, manufacturing my products does not require heavy machinery. So, I invested my savings from my previous job. Since then I have been lucky enough to sustain my venture from the sales.
Do you have any tips and dips points regarding your sales?
There is nothing like that in our case. The hampers we offer are very customizable according to the budget and need of the customer. So we have a constant flow of hampers according to the demands of the people. Previously, people used to order more hampers to gift others but now as people are getting more aware of the natural products they are ordering products for themselves too which is a brilliant development.
Has the COVID-19 crisis impacted your business in any way?
It has definitely affected the supply of raw materials as I source them from different parts of India. For example, our shea butter supply was affected. We source it from Gujarat and due to the lockdown, we had run out of the ingredient. The lead time was high and there was a delay which affected a few of our deliveries.
What are your future plans for the venture?
We are actually working on the website which is our major goal for now. Also, we want to create different channels for sales including marketplaces like Amazon and develop a bulk order pipeline. We are currently visiting avenues where people would want bulk orders.
Looking for tips and products for glowing skin and healthy hair? Make sure to check out Swa Skin’s Instagram page (@swa.skin)!
Interviewed by Thryza, Transcribed by Riha and Edited by Trishna