Beauty is not one size fits all! Yet, around a decade ago, the Indian beauty industry in India was dominated by multinational brands with products that weren’t tailored for the Indian climate and complexion. That was the seed for an idea that germinated into SUGAR Cosmetics. Vineeta Singh, the force behind the cosmetic brand and whose popularity has notched up after her stint as Shark Tank India judge, is herself a woman of many shades. An entrepreneur, mother, wife, marathoner and a reality show judge – Vineeta Singh talks to HealthShots about her inspiring journey as a woman entrepreneur and how she balances her worlds.
Vineeta’s journey began by running a beauty subscription service. It gave her an insight to the white space in the beauty industry, and led her to establish a brand which has its eyes set on targeting and achieving a 100 percent year-on-year revenue growth over last year, expansion to more than 60,000 retail outlets, and growing our team size to 3,000 employees, in 2023.
Excerpts for an interview with SUGAR Cosmetics Co-founder and CEO Vineeta Singh
1. What are the challenges you faced, as a woman, to create and establish a homegrown brand?
Vineeta Singh: Starting a business can be both exciting and stressful, regardless of your gender. The biggest challenge that I think all new businesses face, and so did we – was working capital. SUGAR Cosmetics started with little funding, and so, managing this was really tough.
2. Have you faced gender bias at any point?
Vineeta Singh: Early on in our journey, like any other aspiring entrepreneur, we were on our hunt for capital. It was so hard for us to raise funding until 2018-19 when D2C (direct to consumer) was on the rise. However, things have changed in the last 15 years. Now, there is a lot more awareness of how women can be role models and entrepreneurs. Women are now taking their companies public. They are creating companies that are more than a billion dollars in valuation. So, the presumption that women are incapable of doing certain tasks has stopped coming up in mainstream conversations. The biggest challenge is fundraising and the change in the numbers will take another decade to happen. But I am very optimistic about that. We are going in the right direction.
3. Is being on top of your game as a businesswoman a lonely space to be in?
Vineeta Singh: Being a businesswoman has its pros and cons. The need for working longer hours and spending less time with family or friends can take an emotional toll on you. Creativity tends to wane when short-term outcomes aren’t as satisfactory, and this can cause dissatisfaction to the point of giving up. However, I can vouch that a family’s support and presence on a bad day can make all the difference. If there is one thing I endorse, it is not losing yourself in the process of building something new because it would be all for nothing.
4. How do you strike a balance between your personal and professional life?
Vineeta Singh: One way to strike the optimum balance would be to organise and plan your day better to produce the most during non-work hours, so you can utilise the rest of your day as you like. Another would be to remove a mandate on ‘me-time’ during the day. For me, it would be my morning runs and workout time. Lastly, spend as much time with your loved ones as you possibly can. Nobody will have your back as they do!
5. What motivates you to prioritize fitness with such a hectic schedule?
Vineeta Singh: Fitness taught me some of the most important lessons of my life, including the importance of hard work and resilience. Being active beats lethargy, which would otherwise hamper my day. On days that I workout, I am a better version of myself. It also brings out my competitive nature, which has helped me grow into a better version of myself over the years. Regular workouts serve as an escape from the mundane routine. I work out for at least an hour every day. This ‘me-time’ helps reduce my mental stress and boosts productivity.
6. Women are breaking the glass ceiling and spearheading businesses! What do you think is the biggest driver for women in today’s world?
Vineeta Singh: My favorite part about this industry is that it employs so many women! At SUGAR, I am blessed and grateful to be working with so many inspiring women. Even more important than a person’s gender are their character traits and what they provide to the team. However, the most important factor I feel is undoubtedly drive and determination. No matter what obstacles you face, a true successful businesswoman will always find a way to overcome them and achieve her goals. This is what sets her apart from the competition and allows her to succeed where others have failed.
7. What is your message to women who aspire to have a successful business while managing it all?
Vineeta Singh: Investing in self-care is my main piece of advice and motto for working women in general. Women of today are the most powerful when they create their destinies and fulfil their dreams. On the other hand, women play multiple roles, and this can be overwhelming at times. From handling the household to children and work, women juggle multiple roles and fulfil all their responsibilities efficiently. That is how they break the glass ceiling, push the envelope, and achieve what they set their eyes on. So, my one message to women aspiring to become entrepreneurs is to never give up on your dreams. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and you will achieve great things. Keep slaying!
(Vineeta Singh is nominated for the Health Shots She Slays Awards in the Women in Entrepreneurship category. To vote for her or to review our other nominees, please check out the She Slays Awards nominations).