Colette Austin, in conversation with AAKANKSHA BAJPAI, on how her brand Skin Pantry charted its growth, from her kitchen to the market.
Increasing consciousness around skincare products that are natural and clean has also left us with limited options in the market. In 2015, Colette Austin found herself turning up empty-handed in her search for organic skincare products. An inspired turn towards the kitchen for clues led to the start of the now flourishing entrepreneurial venture Skin Pantry.
Their philosophy is simple: do not put on your skin what you would not put in your mouth. Talking about her journey Colette says, “The Skin Pantry experience has been a heady one, fraught with challenges and indescribable joy as well. At first, I whipped up the products myself, in my kitchen. I also filled, labelled, packaged, sterilised, and dispatched orders. I created visual and copy content for my tiny social media following. I maintained the accounts and invoices, took orders by email, and maintained a close client relationship.”
- Skin Smoothie Charcoal Non-Soap Face Wash
- Vanilla Bean Drench
- Espresso Body Scrub
- Citrus Crush Body Milk
All products are plant-based, organically farmed, cruelty-free and vegan. Prices are estimated at INR 1300 for a 100 ml jar of face scrub and INR 2250 for 200 ml of body milk.
Although our country exports an enormous amount of organic raw materials, Colette faced hardships while sourcing her ingredients. A second challenge was the question of chemical preservatives and stabilisers in the homegrown products. Colette explains, “This meant I could hope for a product shelf life of only three months. This posed some real difficulties, with the product cost, as well as the fact that stocking my products in retail was not an option. This narrowed the platforms or outlets I could be present on.” Five years down the line, however, saw the brand become part of an investment partnership firm, titled, the Skin Mill LLC, from November 2019.
She comments, “While doing all of the above on my own was not always easy, I will always be grateful for the experience and the tremendous learning I gained by being exposed to every aspect of the business of creating a brand from scratch.”
Talking about the future, Colette says, “It’s a good time to be in the business of skincare in India! I believe that the industry remained buoyant and even thrived during the pandemic. Staying home meant not much makeup, no salons, therefore most were taking better care of their skin. It’s an even better time to be an organic skincare brand! While still nascent, it’s a fast-growing market. So next on the cards for us is to apply for our Ecocert / Cosmos certifications.”