The Plume Beauty Story – From Investing Under Rs. 1 Lakh To Scaling To Rs 1.5 Cr In 365 Days Without Any External Funding!
Plume Beauty (https://theplume.co) is an Indian beauty brand founded in mid 2019 by Garima Juneja & Gaurav Mishra. They’re also former founding partners in Viralcurry, a digital marketing company started in 2013.
This is their incredible story, in their own words!
“It was a Eureka moment in early 2019 when we found this idea and realised that we had the passion, experience and skills to pull this off!”
We have an experience of more than 7 years of working closely with product companies, big and small. We helped them with packaging, design, marketing and scaling their revenue. “We always wanted to have our own product. When I started learning more about makeup, I instantly found out gaps that can be filled and the new things that we can do for the Indian beauty industry.”
As soon as the idea struck, we started learning more about beauty products, sourcing and manufacturing. I took courses on cosmetics, their formulations and how to use them, and my partner Gaurav started to develop the overall brand, its packaging and the overall marketing plan.
Initially, we decided to source our first batch of beauty blenders that were really high quality, did not wear off easily and did not waste expensive makeup products. It took us 6 months to create the correct formula, get it manufactured as per our liking (after multiple rejected products) and bring it to market. In the first batch, we somehow managed to negotiate, convince and thus procure only a very small batch of products.
We decided to put our “Viral” social media skills to work and launched the brand in June 2019. The products did go viral on Instagram (https://instagram.com/theplumeco) within the next couple of months. So much so, that hardly ever had to invest any other money in the business and the revenues from the previous batches kept financing the next ones.
The First Setback
We kept scaling the marketing, operations, and decided to expand our product line. We launched our first set of makeup brushes in November 2019 but we fell face first. In order to get a desired colour, texture and shape, we had built them with a material that wasn’t stable enough for that combination.
The brushes had multiple issues and thus the whole range had to be discontinued. We had our first setback.
However, we went back into research mode, learnt some more, worked some more and after feedback from hundreds of makeup artists and experts, we launched our professional makeup brush range in January 2020. These were an instant hit among professionals.
Our products are well accepted and coveted among makeup enthusiasts, learners and makeup artists. We have been able to create products that professionals swear by.
Scaling & Covid 19
Just as we were scaling our business and were building a reputation among professionals with already touching an INR 1 Cr + revenue in the first financial year, Covid 19 hit the world. It first hit worldwide which blocked our raw materials and packaging from reaching India. When that cleared up, India was hit.
First we couldn’t manufacture enough due to the global impact and as it started clearing, there was lockdown in India. The months during the lockdown were the hardest, with no sales. However, thousands of our loyal customers requested us to take orders and deliver later. That helped us to stay afloat.
Key takeaways from Covid 19:
- Stay Lean! This year has taught us to have as less expenses as possible. Having said that, do not cut down on essential expenses like having a great product, a warehouse and a good operations team. A corporate office and retail expansions can wait.
- Always lookout for the “rebound windows”. When the covid cases start to decline, people start online shopping. There have been highs and lows all of the last year but there have always been rebound windows when people shopped a lot.
- Sourcing and keeping stock ready is very important. It is hard to procure stock, thus always stay stocked up.
- Do not do insensitive marketing. Lay low when there is suffering and massive number of cases in the country.
Future Expansion Plans
We had planned to expand our product line into all kinds of cosmetics and launch retail outlets in the year 2020 itself however we had to postpone till things get better. We did launch couple of cosmetics products in January 2021 and are coming up with a full blown cosmetics product line by the 3rd quarter of 2021. We also plan to open up our kiosks in some of the prominent malls in Delhi.
The revenue of the company in its first 18 months was around 1.5 Cr. We are on our way to achieve atleast a 6x increase in our revenue in this financial year, while still being in profit.
Key things to know when You are Starting Up your own Business
- Product market fit is everything! This is such a cliche term but always works. Always research really well about your product and the audience that you are going to serve. Know your audience and product really very well. If you have achieved product market fit, it becomes much easier to scale.
- Learn, build, delegate, scale. When you are just starting out, learn as much as you can and build the base of your business. Once the foundation is laid, start getting everyday tasks off your hands by hiring a team. You can have interns, part time employees, freelancers – anything under the sun. A founder should have the time and mind space to focus on growth.
- Have a co-founder with complimentary skills. An ideal scenario is to have a cofounder who has skills that you don’t have. At least the core functions like tech, marketing, finance should be the areas that founders have knowledge in. If one founder is a coder, it will be a win if the other has knowledge of finance.