Beauty entrepreneur Aishwarya Biswas breaks preconceived notions through her wellness label, Auli
The Shark Tank winner finds the concept of fairness ridiculous and decimates preconceived notions through educative interactions with her patrons
Aishwarya Biswas has always believed that there is no clash between being beautiful and having grey cells and she totally loathes the phrase "beauty with brains". "I think it's odd when people say that and vice versa. Even when I entered the beauty pageant they were like how can a science student do that? But what's wrong with that? Can't a decent looking girl be intelligent, or, a smart nerd be beautiful? Who are we to decide who is and isn't beautiful? We all are beautiful inside and I am still as beautiful in my size 16 as I was when I won the pageant. Also, when a nerdy or intelligent woman tries to tone down her beauty deliberately to underplay vanity, I find that to be another extreme. We need to put out our best selves every single day," explains the MD and founder of homegrown beauty brand Auli - Active Ayurveda.
The gritty woman, who won a renowned city beauty pageant before bagging degrees from SP Jain Global, London School of Economics and Fashion Insitute of Technolgy New York, also happens to be the first entrepreneur from Kolkata to bag funding for her beauty label at the first season of Shark tank India.
"Shark tank is a blessing to so many of us trying to get out of the regional mind space. It simply catapulted us to a national audience. Auli is already a household name but it has now become even more important for us to do our job right and keep the quality in check. We have 75 per cent of repeat customers and I want to keep it like that. We would want to focus on quality and knowledge transfer and be worthy of the love that people shower on us," tells Aishwarya, confident as ever.
But the journey from being a beauty queen to a beauty entrepreneur had its own share of challenges. Auli, was initially a blog started by Aishwarya during her working days where she wrote everything about skincare, haircare, makeup, styling and clothes. Since she is also a trained image consultant, when Aishwarya quit her job and started brand Auli, it kind of flowed naturally. Starting off with three skincare products, Auli currently boasts of a range of 40 products with 80 per cent female employees.
But women don't have it easy and it takes a lot of time to prove one's worth in a man's world, feels the young entrepreneur. "I too had my fair share of criticism and rejections and got more nays than yesses. Although I hold an MBA degree, I am a first-generation businesswoman and had to learn everything on the job while pretending to know everything. That was a big challenge. But hard work and patience saw me through," recalls Aishwarya.
With the market full of homegrown ethical beauty brands, Aishwarya positions her brand as an educative one that enlightens the customer about the need for skincare rather than the 'greed for skincare', as she likes to put it. So, they offer individual attention to each of their patrons and curate customised skincare solutions, besides on-call and WhatsApp consultations and live masterclasses before suggesting products. "I don't have any face for my label and I myself try to be in the forefront, testing the products on myself before putting them out in the market. That's more convincing than any kind of advertisements to ensure quality," she shares.
She feels with time the notion of beauty is perceptively changing with more stress laid on wellness, and fitness than makeup products. And as a woman entrepreneur, she loathes the concept of fairness products. "I reject it completely as a notion. It's the worst kind of consumerism and ridiculous, to put it mildly. I understand products that deal with tan removal or pigmentation but selling fairness as a concept puts us back by several centuries, it's that prehistoric as an idea and shouldn't be endorsed at all," she avers.
But Aishwarya is practical enough to point out that though it's a man's world and challenges are there for a woman, it's useless underscoring the roadblocks. "Let's say that if I were a man I would have had different challenges on my way," quips Biswas, who wants to take her products to the national and global markets in a big way.
Available on aulilifestyle.com