Podcast

Episode: 381 |
Surbhee Grover:
Launching a Brand:
Episode
381

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Surbhee Grover

Launching a Brand

Show Notes

 

In this Episode of Unleashed, I chat with Surbhee Grover. Surbhee is the consultant who runs the firm Steel and Graffiti. She has also recently launched the personal care brand love,Indus.com, and today we discuss the whole process of creating a brand from product formulation to promotion.

Key points include:

  • 05:58: Evolving past the concept
  • 10:18: The market research journey
  • 12:34: Product formulation
  • 17:54: Dealing with intellectual property rights
  • 20:57: Cost of development
  • 32:34: Developing the brand identity

 

You can learn more about love,Indus on the website, Instagram, or Facebook page, and you can connect with Surbhee on LinkedIn.

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman and I am so excited to be here today with surbhi. Grover, who is the consultant and runs the firm stealing graffiti. And I have the right survey.

Surbhee Grover 00:22
That is correct. Well,

Will Bachman 00:23
alright, and still graffiti. And in addition to that surbhi launched a personal care brand last year love comma Indus. And I absolutely love the website. I think it’s just so amazing the design. So surbhi Welcome to the show. I’m really excited to hear about your whole process of creating love Indus

Surbhee Grover 00:49
wonderful, I’m so excited to be on. Let’s sell

Will Bachman 00:54
let’s give people like before we jump into Levin does and and the whole process of creating a brand from scratch and product formulation and, and all the aspects of that. Just give us you know, orient us a little bit, give us sort of a one minute two minute overview of your background and your consulting practice. And then we’ll transition to building you know, being a founder of this personal care brand.

Surbhee Grover 01:18
shorting well. So well. As you know, I started my career in branding and back in India, actually. And then I moved to New York in 2002, went to NYU. And then I was at Booz Allen Hamilton Booz a company for about seven years, specializing in growth and innovation strategy, for large part in New York, and then for a couple of years in London. And then I moved back in 2011. And I set up student graffiti, still focusing on the CPG space. loving this, the idea was born in about, I’d say 2015 16. But it took about five years and a pandemic to take it to market.

Will Bachman 01:58
Okay, so your experience management consultant, you have this idea to start a personal care brand, or I don’t know, do you call it a personal care brand or cosmetic brand? Or how do you refer to to your business?

Surbhee Grover 02:10
I call it a skincare and wellness brand? Well, so it is it is in the category of beauty and cosmetic. But I refer to it as a skincare and wellness brand skincare and models.

Will Bachman 02:23
What was the initial concept? So the what what was the idea behind it?

Surbhee Grover 02:30
Sure. So I’ll tell you a little bit about the inspiration. And it was it’s interesting how our lives intersect. In 2015 16. just coincidentally, I was doing a lot of work in luxury and skincare for a couple of different brands I was working on for a diamond company, helping them with the US growth strategy, as also helping a retail brand in Australia figure out how to grow in the US. And I was helping a skincare brand from Singapore, enter the US market. So it was like this perfect intersection of all these projects that made me realize that in the US, there weren’t a lot of luxury brands of Indian origin. And that was like one of the insights that sort of stayed with me. The other thing was, you know, any of the brands that did exist, were all sort of natural and I Aveda, which is a very specific sort of, you know, science of beauty that comes from India. So I realized that there were all these concepts in 2015 16 sort of came together to me that you know, things like coconut oil, and turmeric, and yoga, all these concepts are becoming increasingly popular from that part of the subcontinent. But because I actually had grown up in all over India, right, and I realized that these concepts barely scraped the surface of what that subcontinent had to offer. So, that was sort of the germ of the thought. And it also helped that I had started my career in India, in personal care. So I touched upon that very, very briefly, but my first job in India had been on one of the largest haircare brands in India, which is a coconut oil, haircare brand, right and then I also worked at L’Oreal that helped L’Oreal enter the Indian market. So line sort of came full circle. And the entire concept was born that I wanted to get a lot more of these rich regional ingredients and customs and rituals that I was so intimately familiar with. But at the same time my career at Booz in consulting had honed my skills and expertise in growth and innovation and I wanted to marry the two and bring bring to market Luxury skincare and wellness brand that harnesses regional riches. But these were made even more efficacious and powerful using technology and innovation that I’ve been familiar with. And I had sort of the, the privilege of experiencing because of my career, and also because of being in New York, which is sort of the hub of where you’d see a lot of these new technologies and innovations exhibited.

Will Bachman 05:28
Amazing, so. So you have this idea that there’s this white space, or open space of a luxury brand from the Indian subcontinent, around wellness and skincare, using regional ingredients, and, you know, enhanced with technology aspect to it. How did that evolve from there as you have this initial concept? And then how did you evolve that to actually, you know, getting getting the brand launched?

Surbhee Grover 05:58
Sure thing. So Well, I mean, there are like basic logistical things that you got to do, which, you know, I won’t get into details, because I think a lot of us are familiar with that. But you know, having set up our own company, so they’re sort of, you know, just figuring out, like what kind of company structure etc, you want, but that, to me was like a smaller part. The fundamental thing was, you know, what are the insights, honing in on the value proposition, making sure that we really were responding to consumer needs. So for example, this concept that I’ve talked about took various forms, and I spent almost, I’d say, about nine months to a year doing diligence and research around consumer needs, because this is an incredibly crowded market space. So even though the germ of the idea and the concept was exciting, we actually built out I had two other people help me we build out different brand concepts, and I personally must have spoken to or done focus groups equivalent to speaking to about like, you know, 80 or 90 consumers in depth conversations, where I tested like, you know, about seven or eight different concepts. For example, we tested a concept which was around unit inspired by the Royal rituals of in India, right. So that was one concept. And then B. Similarly, we tested eight or nine before we honed in on this one, which is the one that the consumer has responded most positively to. So there was one aspect of it, which was just the brand concept itself. And sort of doing the due diligence and getting market feedback and honing it till the time it felt sharp and ready to. So that was one aspect. The second aspect of it, that I started to talk about, which is incredibly crowded market space, the number of brands that get launched in a year is strong. And so what we did was look for insights and benefits and needs, where we felt that the current market offerings, we’re not really fulfilling. So to give you an example, one of the insights we had was the skin around our lips is just as fragile as the skin under our eyes, right. And yet, while you have so many underride creams, you have very little in terms of solutions for the lines around your lips. And that was the germ of an idea, which then led us to create a product called freedom of expression, which is for all sorts of expression lines, including these vertical lines of smokers lines around your lips. So I wanted to make sure that any product concept we create is targeting a genuine need that is not fully being fulfilled by existing market solutions. Similarly, we, we also realize that peach fuzz of five facial hair is an is a large need. And yet the current solutions in the market are things like waxing, threading, you know, derma, planing, all of these are mechanical processes that tend to cause irritation, especially to people with sensitive skin. And there are no products that really, you know, help ignore gentle solutions to issues like this. And so, you know, we knew Kanaka wood from Burma, for example, has been used for millennia. By Burmese woman they applied on their face and they use it not just to detox and purify their skin, but over time, it reduces the regrowth of facial hair. So those were the sort of insight that were absolutely foundational in kicking off our product journey. So there was a brand value prop journey. And in parallel, we were doing these consumer insights and, and market insights to identify unmet needs as far as product benefit goes. So that was the starting point.

Will Bachman 09:59
So you go through this Journey of the market research understanding consumer needs. And by the way, with those focus groups, those 80 to 90 consumers, Could you just tell us what, how did you actually recruit those? Did you and and mechanically, how did you get those done?

Surbhee Grover 10:18
So, well, this was hugely dependent on my network. And so I really leveraged, you know, friendships. And I think almost all my professional relationships are, can be qualified as friendships over time. So that’s what I depended on hugely, I send the word out, I had a very clear target market and in in mind, because I wanted consumers, I wanted sophisticated consumers. Or you can call the naive experts, right? These are people who, who are familiar with the category, they are involved in the category, they might be critical of the category they’re already using. And this is another credit, they’re already using really good products. And so when you speak to them, the bar is a little bit higher in terms of getting them interested in try something else. Right. So having a very clear set of criteria, recruitment criteria is critical. I also want to geographic diversity and people I wanted to talk to because you know, the dangers of operating in a bubble. So, so having these recruitment criteria, and then just reaching out to my network with a very clear email, say, this is what I’m looking for. And then they put me in touch with friends from friends went to friends of friends, to friends of friends. And that’s how I was able to record quite a few.

Will Bachman 11:49
Okay, folks, there’s a few areas I’d love to explore. So one of them is learning about how you went about just creating the entire brand visual identity, the name, the colors, the concept of the visual design on your website, it’s just absolutely stunning. I’d love to also hear about the product design and formulation, and just how you got that to happen. And then if we have time, I’d love to also go into how do you actually get this the word out there and and the sale of the product and fulfillment and the more operational piece. So maybe, where would you like to start? We want to start with product formulation. I’d love to hear about how that works.

Surbhee Grover 12:34
Sure thing, though, I think, yeah, let’s start there, because I have a feeling if I get into brand in be hard for you to make a stop. So, I started with compilations product formulations, we already sort of hit on the very starting point or which is honing in on sort of the consumer needs that we wanted to fulfill from the product. From there it was it was not an easy process. What I did was I started to create a product brief. And the product brief has a couple of you know critical components it is it’s got to have obviously the benefit you want. Usually you consumer insight, then a target audience, you ideally any formulator will also ask you for benchmarks, they will ask you for things like a What do you want the texture to feel like any kind of ingredients you want to incorporate or you don’t want to incorporate. And then any other criteria. In any other criteria. For example, I had things like we want to be a clean beauty brand and a non toxic brand. So it meant things like you know, no artificial fragrance, no artificial colors. And a lot more ingredients that have been very acceptable in the skincare industry for decades, are things that we wanted to formulate without because apart from sort of the brand proposition, which is a little bit more emotional level that we talked about this whole regional riches from India, I also rational level wanted an extremely clean, non non toxic and a high performance product. Which also meant that I needed to be a bit more flexible in terms of the cost parameters that I gave to the lab. Right. So those are all the components that went into the product brief. And then this as we think about strategy and strategy consultants, you know, anything that you do and execute upon, you know, having the foundation in the strategy is really important. That two page product brief is a very, very critical component or setting you’re on a part of developing the product. So that was one part. The second part I talk about is a really interesting aspect of this of this industry, right? There are many ways to get a product and go to market. There’s a whole spectrum. So the easiest thing to do is to go and get an existing formula from an ingredient supplier and there are Lots of all there are lots of labs that have ready made formulas. And you can take them, you can add them to tweak it a little bit like you know, tweak the color, a little bit of fragrance a little bit, and then the formula is yours, right? You don’t own the formula in that case, but your speed to market is, gosh, two months as far as the product is concerned. So that’s one way of doing it. pros and cons, pros speed to market cons, you don’t own the product, pros speed to market and cost, cons you don’t own the product, and questionable how differentiated that can be, right. So that’s the easiest way to do it. On the other end of the spectrum, you get to own the formula. But then you hire a lab or scientists to someone to develop the formula for you. In which case, you have to pay them upfront for their services. Right. So it’s a much more costly method. But the upside of that is, you get to determine the formula that you want, right. So where I had all these, you know, things that I wanted in the product and the terms of efficacy and feeling non toxic. I mean, getting an off the shelf formula was not even an option for me. And ownership of the formula was really important to me. And I really believe that the product can be compromised on. And that’s why it was a three and a half year formulation journey. But that’s the route we took. So once you have the product brief, you also know which sort of strategy or party want to go down in terms of your product formulation, or lab or owning your formula versus taking an off the shelf. And I’m simplifying a little bit, there’s also like multiple options between the two, you can be a family of manufacturer to create a formula for you. And they do it for free. But then you would need to promise them that you would only manufacture with them. So you’re still kind of tied to it. And you don’t own the formula, but you’ve got a little bit more flexibility in the creation of the formula. So there are all these various parts. And after evaluating all these options, we chose that the best part for us more expensive, more, more time consuming, but would get as a high quality output was the one where we hired a lab and the scientists and do it the way we want to. And then the thought and when you say that you

Will Bachman 17:24
are the one where you don’t own the formula, where they sort of have something like an off the shelf that you could, you know, add your own scent to or color or something and modify it slightly, when you say you don’t own the formula, does that mean that they will actually not give you the formula like you don’t even know what is exactly in it and percentages, or that you don’t have the kind of intellectual property rights to it in terms of owning it, because you’re just customizing there’s

Surbhee Grover 17:54
bullets with both. And then and then you can negotiate and a few things, right. So for example, manufacturer that you go with, and you know who’s customizing the formula for you, you can say that look, okay, I promised to give you all my volumes for the next two years, but once I’ve hit a certain volume with you, or a certain, you know, a certain level of business with you, then you will transfer the formula over to me like two years later or three years later. But yes, when you don’t own the formula, you don’t get the formula, and you don’t have the IP for it.

Will Bachman 18:30
So you don’t even get it so. So in the world of cosmetics and skincare, like our formulas actually kind of trademarked or if you were able to do some kind of chemical analysis of someone else’s formula and figure out what it’s made out of by, you know, some chemistry magic, could you just go and make that same thing? And, you know, make it you know, have some other manufacturer make it for you. So what do you right?

Surbhee Grover 19:01
Yeah, I mean, really, really critical question. You don’t have, there’s no trademark around that formula. And you’re required to disclose all your ingredients on your label in descending order, all the way until about you hit 1%. And anything less than 1%, you have the you have the option to disclose it in any any order. So any ingredient that you have incorporated in your formula that’s more than 1% has to be in descending order volume. So to that extent, there’s a lot of transparency around around the label. It’s there’s still a few things, you know, for example, you you get an ingredient from say a BASF or a symrise, one of the big sort of ingredient players. And that ingredient is a complex and when you declare it on the label, you have to break it up into three components. So people might not very easily and very perfectly be able to reverse engineer your form. But it’s not. It’s not impossible with time and trial and error, you could probably do it. And, and so, you know, that, I guess is one of the reasons why a lot of people might say, hey, me as well go with an existing formula, I think it’s just when you want when you have a vision for a very specific kind of product and a certain level of quality, is when you sort of go down the path of, of owning your formula. It’s not as much the value from the trademark as much as the value, I think of being able to create something that’s customized for a specific need or record an audience or a benefit. I’d say,

Will Bachman 20:47
okay, and can you share just, I mean order of magnitude, what’s what’s kind of the range of cost to develop your own formula for for some product,

Surbhee Grover 20:57
Sure thing, it would range anywhere from about, I’d say, $7,000 to 18 to $20,000, per formula, approximately. Right. And I see that after having met at least about 50 Labs and scientists all across the US, some in Europe, and quite a few in India. So and then there are pockets that are places where labs, manufacturers tend to be concentrated. For example, in the US, it just happens to be a lot more on the west coast, like la has quite a few. Texas has a few Florida has a few and then there’s a lot in, in the new york new jersey area. But yeah, I’d say that’s the ballpark if you want to own the formula, you might get super lucky and get something slightly less than that. But that’s it. That’s the sort of range you might want to think about.

Will Bachman 21:55
And what are these? How do you go about identifying these labs at industry conferences you went to? Or just looking out on the internet? Or how do you find them? And what what do they look like? Is it just one person in a, you know, you know, in a lab room, are they big facility, sophisticated manufacturing facilities? What are these places look like?

Surbhee Grover 22:18
Sure. So, okay, where do you find them? First question. So I was fortunate enough, because I’ve done quite a work a bit of work in this space. And I had clients, I had friends that had professionals, I reached out to all of them, I’d actually worked with r&d, folks, because of some of my background, etc. So I reached out to all of them, you know, their contacts and things like that. I also did a lot of LinkedIn search for a lot of people that we had conversations that way. But the biggest one, the third, the third way of finding them is just industry magazine. So there’s a magazine called GCI, which is a really good magazine, there’s another magazine called duty independent, which is another very good magazine. So I think the industry publications are actually really high quality and good resources for someone starting off. anyone thinking about doing any thing in the space. I think signing up by subscribing to these magazines is a great way to just get started. And then the fourth would absolutely be exhibitions I went to at least about 20 to 25 exhibitions, I was showing up at all these chemists conferences, where I guess I was the only non chemists walking the aisles and looking for, like PhDs in chemistry like it was. And you know, you could, you could read that this was a this is a conference hall of scientists, you can tell. But that’s where I found my, you know, my lab, my scientists, and then it was just a series of conversations, interviews. That sort of led to the choice.

Will Bachman 23:59
So you start the process, once you’ve selected a lot, you start the process with this product briefing that you described. And then what’s the process look like of working with the lab and iterating? And you see me getting test samples and trying them out and giving the feedback? Could you just describe what that process looks like?

Surbhee Grover 24:21
Absolutely. I mean, well, I think for one of our products, we landed up creating about 100 versions before I was ready to take it to market. I’m not proud of that. Just saying that’s what happened. But then for another of the products that landed up being 15 versions, I think which was a little bit a lot more sane way of getting to market but that’s what happened. They take the product brief, you sit down you make sure you go over every element and make sure they understand what you mean by what’s in the product brief. Ask questions all of that in that session is really important. Think of it is on was the kickoff that we have in consulting, right, making sure we’re on the same page in terms of scope, then the process kicks off the formulator disappears, they have to source ingredients to do this. A lot of the big companies like the ones, I was talking about BASF, symrise, you know, good labs have relationships with them, and they’ll get the samples for free, because they know that the real game is when you get to manufacturing, and they want you to try their ingredients. So the the, the formulator, and the lab will start to put together some idea of what they want going in. Then in my case, specifically, because it was a concept that is so inspired by India, I had some ingredients, based on my two, three years of research and speaking to dermatologists, and I read the doctors and everybody in India. And my own experience, I knew I wanted Incorporated, because I knew from customs and rituals that they help you meet that particular benefit that that product brief is targeting. So we gather the ingredients. And if the formulator can’t cancel some of them, you know, he or she would turn to you to get help, but getting those ingredients, and then the price of putting it together, they start reading the sample, and they keep sending you versions. In my case, like, I would test every version like and I would take three days because I would use that version for three days and then give feedback. And when I really sort of changed direction drastically see every five or six versions later, then I would actually, you know, buy like extra samples, you know, six or seven of them, and give them to people and get their feedback as well. That was a pretty complex process, because I was constantly getting samples maintaining like a huge Excel spreadsheet where I had every version who I gave it to when I gave it to. And then like I would follow up with them for feedback, people the feedback while also using every version myself. And that’s what really helped me drive to sort of the version that I was happy. But and then there’s an incredibly important aspect of this, which is stability, right, and I’m not even getting into safety. But, you know, we knew all the ingredients going in are safe. So we at least had that. But then there’s the stability of the product. And that can change, right, it can be really stable day one. And on day 50 in the product can just break down. So there were many things that are happening in parallel, as far as the formulation is concerned, you’re sourcing the ingredients from very many places. In our case, we actually have 120 ingredients that have gone into five formulas. So it’s a, it’s a complex product, it’s not a two ingredient product. So that was a big aspect, then you are formulating samples, you’re giving out samples, you’re getting feedback, you’re feeding that into implications for change to the formulator. That process keeps happening, the formulated pilot is going on putting these products, the ones that you are close to approving on stability, which means that 40 degree temperature 50 degree temperature, freezing temperature and room temperature. So that’s sort of the standard for temperatures at which stability is done. Right. So that’s all happening because the product has to be stable, and it has to perform before you can say okay, let’s move to the next stage.

Will Bachman 28:23
And so how long do you keep them around to see if they’re going to be stable, you know,

Surbhee Grover 28:30
three months is a good time, three months, three months, is a good time for stability data. And then of course, you have to, you know, account for the fact that you might not pass stability in the first first round. So you know, a month and a half down the line. And stability is also a sign. So it’s not a pass or fail, it’s usually, you know, a scale of one to five. So for example, if my if the color and the product went, which happened to us, because we use no artificial colors to master colors of the natural ingredients. So if it went from like a bluish green to a more faded green in month two, what do I want to do? That’s my decision. In my case, it was like a slight color feeding, I don’t care as long as the efficacy and the product experience doesn’t get compromised, because those are calls you have to take, which are more complex and pass or fail on things like stability.

Will Bachman 29:26
And then, so let’s say you now land at your final formula, and you’ve Yeah, stability is good. Is there some kind of registration or certification process or just, you know, some kind of a government body that you have to get permission before you can sell this formula?

Surbhee Grover 29:48
It’s interesting. That actually is the requirements to get into a selling your products as just pretty low. It’s almost theory like I mean, you can, if the onus is on you to get a clear clean product or to get a safe product to market and if something goes wrong, then you know, that’s how sort of the repercussions are on you. But things like safety testing, which we landed up doing, but they’re not a requirement. So there’s a test for safety called the HR IBT, which is the human repeat in salt patch test. And so that test takes anywhere between six to 12 weeks, six to 10 weeks. And they basically, these are independent labs independent evaluation labs that will just run safety tests where they will take your product, they’ll ask for, like, you know, bulk, like, you know, a one kg of your product, and they will apply it as a patch test to consumers every day for like 30 days or something like that, and then tell you whether you pass or fail. And they’re pretty stringent, you know, if you’ve got gone to a panel of like 100 people, If more than one has irritation, you fail the test. So we chose to do do those tests, but they are not required. Similarly, there’s another test called the preservative test, which basically test whether you know, the introduce foreign objects or bacteria into your product and sees it the preservative system in your, in your cosmetics skincare product is able to handle, you know, bacteria and these foreign particles at a certain reasonable level. And so you have to pass that test. So I say these are the three critical tests, safety, preservative, and then stability test, there is one more compatibility, which is testing whether your product is compatible with the packaging you’ve chosen. which usually, you know, for example, class is pretty stable. So if you’re using class, you don’t necessarily need to do that. But those are the four tests that are, you know, once you do them, you feel pretty confident going into the market. But again, to answer your question, they’re not required. these are these are things that you just do to safeguard yourself and make sure you’re getting quality products into the market. Okay.

Will Bachman 32:13
So let’s talk a little bit about developing the whole brand identity, as well as it sort of fits into that a bit the you know, selecting the packaging, because it seems with a skincare brand, just the visual appearance of the package itself probably matters quite a bit. Talk to me about that whole process.

Surbhee Grover 32:34
Yeah. I think in this one, it starts with a vision, it really does. And somewhere, this whole brand, like this brand is a very personal brand, at least for me, right? Like it was born out of my personal journey of having been in India and then moved to as an immigrant having two homes, and you know, both of these, both of these places that are called home, have actually sort of gone into the creation of the brand. So I think when you’re creating a brand, there is some degree of soul searching that is required in terms of who do you what do you want this brand to be? What do you want it to stand for, and I knew that somewhere, both these aspects of my world and my life had to come together in this brand. Right. And then there was also a bit of nostalgia and emotion involved and the brand name was an nightmare. Because I just did not feel right. And then one day, like the brand name was a self creation even though I had help from like designers and agencies, but somehow it was something that had to come, I think a little bit from me. And when I first sort of saw version of this, which is love, comma India, and I was like there’s something there. Because it’s all the words are really important to me. And so the idea of a sign off of a letter was really powerful. It was almost like a sign off of a love letter from that continent. But I was resisting the word India because you know, just again going back to value systems or searching like the political boundaries, you know, just given the environment etc was was not something I felt very comfortable with. But then I heard you know, in this was in this was like a civilization cut across political boundaries. The Nene, you know, had almost sort of, you know, took you took you to a point in time and place without having sort of geographical boundaries around it. And it just felt right, but the process of getting there was so much of brainstorming so much of soul searching Figuring out about, you know what you wanted to stand for? What sort of mean, you want it to be, for example, like I resisted having any kind of a Sanskrit name, because I felt like a lot of Indian brands tend to do that. And that’s something I didn’t want, I wanted it to be a little bit more universal. And yet I wanted to allude to that place that’s giving rise and rise to the inspiration. So I think it’s a lot about having created a level of clarity in terms of what the soul of this brand is. And then the brand name is sort of an outcome of testing various things and seeing what, what fits. And then, you know, I did obviously, get a lot of consumer feedback on the names before deciding on this one.

Will Bachman 35:48
And in the process of creating the entire brand identity, visual identity. was the name really the first step that unlocked everything else? Are you also proceeding in parallel? Like, when did you do the more visual elements, the colors, the fonts, the, you know, kind of the design elements, the vision for the feel of the website? Is that all in parallel with the name? Or does it follow from the name? How did you go about that process?

Surbhee Grover 36:14
When the brand name did unlock a little bit, right, the brand name and Then the Colors, right? When we started talking about colors, for example, I got a lot of resistance in, in deciding on these colors, especially because gray and then an ink blue. You know, I had someone in New York who was advising me around the packaging colors, and he was really resisting because he said no, like that blue was it’s a primary color. And he also felt very justifiably so the green and blue are, you know, kind of that usually targeting men, and part of me was also in that soul searching wanted to resist stereotype. So, I was like, well, we can change that we can challenge that. And the second thing was when I realized that, you know, indigo, the word Indigo is, you know, the oldest dye known to known to mankind. It is also it is also derived from a Greek word that actually means from India, so it’s very representative of the region. And then it’s also the color of ink and words and goes so well with the whole concept of letter writing and the sign of a love letter. It just fit right so after seeing all these colors, because I knew what the soul of the brand was, and the brand name came the color seemed right for the brand. And once we also knew the brand proposition that fit into the idea and the branding of the collections because in skincare, you also have sub brands, right? So one of our one of our collections is called our rotini. And our routine is there are two words um Roatan says Sanskrit means nectar, and Martini from New York. And so every every element really derived from that brand proposition and what that brand stands for, which is the coming together of these two worlds, this Confluence and contrast that defines our brand, you know, we almost have like these four lines that we write, you know, against, against the brand, which is, it’s a journey of Eastern best of heart and soul of confidence and contrast of dreams and drama of emotions, emotions, once you sort of sound that language started to describe the prayer and the choices became clearer and clearer and more and more cohesive. So that’s what you know, sort of the brand name happened, the proposition was there, the color start to make sense, this, the collections, the names start to make sense. And then the other part of the brand that was important to me is to just be true and transparent. And so you know, I almost laid down six or seven criteria I had for the packaging, one, it wasn’t going to be the regular shape. So our logo is a heart that’s made up of 14 different triangles. So I wanted the shape of a triangle. And again, this is way more complex than it sounds. There’s a reason this industry you don’t see triangle shaped packaging and skincare, it is incredibly complex shipping, making all of that, but it was just super important to me, because like, as you rightly said packaging is is is a key element of the consumer experience. The second part was that I wanted both these worlds of India, New York, represented so we have one side of the triangle that is all about the region that is inspired this collection. So in lambertini, it’s like West Bengal. So we’ve got this Bengali script that’s writing all the benefits. We’ve got art from that region, which is counter art in which we’ve designed that panel of the packaging. The other panel was all black and white photographs from New So because I’m routine is focused on building skin strength, every image we chose spoke Australian. So for New York imagery, we chose the Oculus and the Brooklyn Bridge. And so that was sort of the theme. So the packaging was wanted and try and go, I wanted both boards reprints was represented, I wanted the colors to be inspired by the colors of the product itself. So the um, rotini range is a bluish green, so the packaging is a little bit of teal and blue colors. And then we always sign off our brand as a as like the sign of a letter, right. So usually, you’ll see that the brand is at the center of the pile as is actually on the lower right hand side, because it’s a sign off. So there were a few things and then this poetry that I just read out to you, I wanted it to be in every packaging, it was almost a message. And the final thing was that I wanted the benefit to actually go to a more emotional level. So the unwritten hearing says, you know, from us to a stronger you. The other range, which is freedom of expression is from us to free you. So again, sort of building on the thought that this is more than just a product, putting on your skin, we want you to do more as yourself in this experience.

Will Bachman 41:13
That is incredible. There’s so many different layers of of thinking in that design and branding, it’s really cool to hear you unpack that. Tell us about the piece about actually getting the product in people’s hands from the e commerce to the fulfillment that you’re using, how did that piece all work?

Surbhee Grover 41:38
that so much of learning of things that, you know, never done in my life. And, you know, but again, I think the good thing about being a strategy consultant is that that’s not something that, you know, you’ve not seen before. So logistics, there are a lot of tools in the market, and people in the market who specialize in some of this, which makes logistics and fulfillment fairly easy. You know, for again, you know, just whatever you’ve learned about the brand, you wouldn’t be surprised that I was very keen that the website experience be customized. So we didn’t go with like a template version on SEO Shopify. But we still wanted the backend to be something that we don’t invent. That’s not our core capability. That’s not something we want to do. So there’s enough platforms like Shopify that do a really good job of e commerce and integrating with fulfillment. And so we didn’t want to reinvent that. But we spent all our energies into the front end experience, which is what the consumer sees the most, and the imagery around it, and the text and everything. So that’s something that we focused on, you know, I was personally involved in, in writing every word of that website and the visuals around it and stuff like that. But the back end did not want to innovate for the reasons we just said, you know, there’s in terms of logistics, there are a lot of solution providers out there. There are also turnkey solution providers, my experience, they’re extremely expensive, and just wasn’t worth it for us. And it’s been the same resources, I wanted to also make decisions around where those resources were going to create most impact, when we decided was most people to be the product and the consumer experience. And so you’ve got fulfillment agencies, you’ve got, you know, places like Shopify are incredible. Once you’ve got your website set set up and ecommerce goes to them. They are already integrated with a courier providers. And there are tons of apps that you can integrate, download and integrate into your website that will automatically do things like creating shipping labels. I also have hired someone to help me on the logistics, logistical and operational side of things. But that part of it, even though it was completely unfamiliar, there are a lot of resources that have it all figured out, it is not something that would that would, that would be no hold back or startup or create like a lot of hiccups has been my experience. And they’re all integrated with even things like payment gateway gateways, and all you have to do is agree to the terms and there’s a cost involved. So for example, Shopify would depending on the plan would take any anything from like about 3% to 2% of every credit card transaction, plus 30 cents or something like that. And then your shipping labels are something that you can just print online. So and then warehousing, you know, given that we are a luxury brands a clean brand and it does require some right handling, so we just had to find a facility that maintains temperature, you know, somewhere around like 50 to 50 to 60 degrees and just rent that space. So that’s what the largest extremely involves incredible

Will Bachman 45:05
Well, many, many things that you had to solve after coming up with the idea five or six years ago, this vision of of a skincare and wellness brand with luxury India positioning with these natural ingredients. So we will certainly include the link in the show notes, but just remind listeners, where can they go find more about love Indus and buy some buy some product,

Surbhee Grover 45:37
Of course. So the website is www dot love India’s dot com, which is l o v e i n d u s.com. We also have an Instagram page, which is the same name loving this. And on Facebook, we have loving this and why. So those are our primary three properties. We’ll be on LinkedIn soon, where we hope to find a lot of Umbrex members that we should invite to the page as well. But yeah, I would be more than happy to have conversations with any of our Umbrex community and get them to experience the products.

Will Bachman 46:16
Fantastic. And you’re also still consulting Of course, for someone who wants to follow up with you and learn more about your consulting practice. Where would you point them?

Surbhee Grover 46:25
So steel and graffiti.com or they can also find me on the Umbrex platform of course, as well as on LinkedIn. But with my name syrupy Grover str bH EGROV

Will Bachman 46:39
surbey. Thank you so much for joining today. This was fascinating hearing about what it takes to start a skincare brand. Thank you so much. This was really a lot of fun.

Surbhee Grover 46:51
Thank you so much. I’m so happy to do this.

Related Episodes

jay-altizer-bain-alum-dallas-tx

Episode
440

Food Industry 101

Jay Altizer

Episode
439

Craig Beal on the Travel Business

Craig Beal

Episode
438

Rob Ristagno on Customer Segmentation

Rob Ristagno

Episode
437

Equity Research

Neeraj Monga