EXCLUSIVE! The Founder Of Global Beauty Secrets, Aishwarya Sawarna Nir Talks About Her Culturally Inclusive Brand, Challenges In The Beauty Industry And More
My first memory related to beauty isn’t buying an eyeshadow palette from a Sephora store or getting a clean-up at a fancy spa and salon. It is getting a hot oil champi from my grandma or reluctantly applying a mixture of glycerine and milk made by my mom on my face in winters. Although I conveniently forgot these quick natural beauty hacks as I began to rely on an extensively chemical-laden skincare products, I recently got to rediscover the homemade beauty goodness that’s been passed down from generations of women in my family during the lockdown.
There is a plethora of such secret beauty recipes that women from different cultures and ethnicities have been following for years and pass as legacy to younger generations. The various beauty practices from around the world that use native ingredients and special formulations are practically an insider code to how to stay young and gorgeous. There is a brand that celebrates traditional beauty wisdoms from diverse cultures by perfectly amalgamating these beauty rituals from around the world and cosmetic science into its natural products.
Global Beauty Secrets, a brainchild of Aishwarya Sawarna Nir is inspired by the cultural beauty rituals that women from different countries including India, Greece, Egypt, Korea, Thailand and Australia swear by. She trotted around the globe to study the natural ingredients, personal care regimes and recipes that these women follow and built a beauty brand that formulates these takeaways into a range of natural skincare and haircare products.
We caught up with her to get an in-depth insight on why and how she came up with a beauty brand that draws inspiration from global beauty traditions, what needs to change in the Indian beauty industry, challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in beauty and more. Read on.
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Q. Take us through your journey as an entrepreneur? What inspired you to start your own brand?
Aishwarya Sawarna Nir: I have always been a very expressive person since a very young age. Honestly, creating my brand is a form of self-expression. It is my way to express myself to the world on something I deeply love and was aware of since a long time. As a woman, I have been familiar with beauty and knew a lot more about it thanks to my grandmom and other amazing women in my life. It’s just strange that even though I started with a very personal inspiration, the journey so far has helped me tell the story of many other women like me and share amazing products with all of them.
Q. Your brand draws inspiration and secrets from beauty cultures from around the world. How did you come up with this idea?
I felt that there is something very beautiful in the way that women express themselves through cultures and rituals and traditions. As if a secret language that had been passed among them since many generations. I wanted to be able to share these stories with everyone. I always felt that India is such a culturally diverse country where people have so much love for traditions and rituals. But then why is it that we are only talking about Ayurveda? Why are we not discussing Hammam of Turkey, Yunani of middle east, Onsen from Japan, or spa from Europe? It is this curiosity that led me to discover these rituals around the world and helped me shape our brand.
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Q. A lot of beauty brands have been prioritizing natural ingredients in their products. Why do you think the route to natural beauty is being preferred?
Yes, that is true. Natural beauty is indeed a preferred choice for many women, especially because in recent times women are increasingly being aware of the ugly side to our beauty industry and the cruelty it inflicts on the natural environment and the animals. So brands are increasingly becoming more aware of the chemical derivatives being used in the products and are trying to make it cruelty-free through conscious packaging, plant-based ingredients and sustainable sourcing. Women are also increasingly becoming aware of the cruelty some chemicals inflict on their skin which is why they are asking for natural solutions to meet modern-day needs.
Q. How is your brand any different from the existing beauty brands in the market today?
I wouldn’t emphasize so much on the difference as much as the inclusivity that we wish to harbour. Global Beauty Secrets is a democratic beauty brand that wishes to promote love across identities and borders and issues which otherwise divide us all. To do so, it digs deep into the story of unique women who have been on artistic pursuits and can add an original perspective to the ongoing cultural narrative. This is not a brand that preaches to get perfect hair or flawless skin; this is a brand that narrates the story of these ingredients and the cultures and the women who have discovered, created and contributed to it. In that sense, we are not going to take a utilitarian view on beauty that somehow reduces the stature of women, in fact a feminist view on it, through which we wish to recognize, celebrate and share the various philosophies, perspectives, discoveries, creations and contributions on beauty by women.
Q. How challenging is it for a woman to build a brand in today’s time? Do you think to venture into the beauty business is any easier for women than men?
I think as women we are lucky to be having access to so many brands, consumers, platforms and opportunities. I truly believe if you have the will there’s hardly anything that can stop you from achieving what you want for yourself. There’s nothing that can defeat you unless you are willing to defeat yourself. I believe men and women look at beauty differently, so yes there’s a difference in perspective that exists. However, each has their own set of difficulties while starting a business in this industry and some challenges are fairly common to men as well as women.
Q. How do you think the pandemic has changed the perception of beauty-conscious customers?
I think the pandemic has made beauty more reflective and nurturing rather than utilitarian or grooming-oriented. People still wish to be hygienic and take care of themselves, yet they want to be more comfortable in their personal care routine. It is less rushed and more nurturing.
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Q. What do you think still needs to change in the beauty industry?
I think creation of more organized platforms can certainly help the consumers and the brands.
Q. Fairness creams, detan scrubs and other whitening and lightening beauty products have received severe backlash lately. How do you think a brand plays the role in perpetuating this concept and how it can bring a change?
As I mentioned earlier, it is about the way we look at and understand beauty. If beauty is flawless skin and lustrous hair then why are we surprised that brands are only talking that language? However, there has been a shift in the way people, women especially, approach beauty. It is less about looking perfect and more about feeling perfect. So, any language or communication that creates insecurity needs to be promoted less.
Q. Share some tips for budding women entrepreneurs in the beauty business.
My only tip any entrepreneur man or woman, across any industry would be: Failure is your only true mentor or teacher in this journey. Embrace everything it teaches you and honestly, it will lead you to success.