Naina Ruhail - Co-Founder, Vanity Wagon
Naina Ruhail – Co-Founder, Vanity Wagon

Vanity Wagon is a carefully crafted concept of bringing nature to your doorstep. Their team believe that no one should have to compromise their health for beauty. Together with their brands, they’re taking a STAND AGAINST TOXINS in personal care, refusing to settle for anything but the safest, most effective products. They’re shifting the mindsets — and building a community of activists who want a better kind of beauty. The idea was thought of by Naina Ruhail (Co-Founder, Vanity Wagon) post her stint in London, UK. The market research and study showed tremendous industry growth and also a promise for a brand like Vanity Wagon to create a niche space for itself. That being said Prateek and Naina went on to initiate the set-up of Vanity Wagon when Sahil Shrestha (the operational team leader) jumped in and went on to complete the founding team.

Naina Ruhail is an established media Influencer and Professional Make-Up Artist in India. She completed her MBA in2012 and then went on to specialise in Beauty & Skincare with her education at London School of Styling and London School of Makeup. She has 7 years of professional experience in marketing and brand building.

An MBA from University of Oxford with a Dean’s Commendation Award, Prateek Ruhail has 3 years of Project Finance (Legal) and 4 years of Business Management experience. His area of expertise is business strategy and core management. He also has led Mega Infrastructure Project financings, thereby understanding the nuances of financial management in India.

Sahil Shrestha has an educational qualification in management and technology. Post completion of his MBA in 2012 he went on to work in different facets of operations, from leading the events team at EO2 Event Management, he founded Plan Makers (a digital marketing portal, driving local vendors marketing). At Vanity Wagon, he leads the operational vertical and bringing the best of his experiences on board.

Prateek Ruhail - CEO & Co-Founder, Vanity Wagon
Prateek Ruhail – CEO & Co-Founder, Vanity Wagon

We are publishing an interview with Naina:

Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans:
Whether, its Nykaa or Purplle or Flipkart, the consumers have to fish out there natural beauty products from a host of other products and this makes the shopping experience tedious and less pleasurable. Vanity Wagon creates a space where an individual only has natural options be it in makeup, skincare, bathing essentials or wellness. Everything on the portal is non-harmful chemical driven and makes it easy for a consumer to get hooked onto clean beauty. Vanity Wagon is a one-stop platform for genuine organic and natural products for beauty and personal care. We ensure that the products included on the platform are toxin-free, cruelty-free and completely safe.

Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans:
Shopping for beauty in UK is not only easy but very clear for a consumer. One can shop organic-natural products with ease as there were a plethora of options. This was what drove the idea. In India, there are beauty markets however they are all mixed with multiple categories – natural is one of them. This increases consumer search time and reduces the pleasure of shopping for a user of natural/ organic products. The idea was validated when the first stage of research was conducted about the beauty market in India. The organic beauty market with a fast growth of over 52% proved that the consumers of India were making the switch and a marketplace like Vanity Wagon would just make it easier.

Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans:
Vanity Wagon is a one-stop platform for genuine organic and natural products for beauty and personal care. We ensure that the products included in the platform are toxin free, cruelty-free and completely safe. Our belief is to create a shopping experience that is not only par satisfaction but also through an informed choice. In India, there is no one-stop-shop for organic and natural beauty products. This increases consumer search time and reduces the pleasure of shopping for a user of natural/ organic products. The idea was validated when the first stage of research was conducted about the beauty market in India. The organic beauty market with a fast growth of over 52% proved that the consumers of India were making the switch and a marketplace like Vanity Wagon would just make it easier.

With the idea in place, the question in mind was how to go about launching the market, which brands to keep initially, which products and categories to target, what consumer base to work on. With several social surveys, A&B testing, and market research the team went on to finalise all these and a point to start from. Assembling the tech team, the base work for the portal – tech, design, graphics, were put in place and the idea was executed with a turnaround time of 4 months.

Q.: What is your USP?
Ans:
Vanity Wagon is India’s First, All Natural Beauty Market. The product – natural – organic beauty products, fulfil the beauty needs of Indians and that too with an alternative to the chemical based harmful beauty products. There is a major information gap in the market that leads buyers to get easily mislead while shopping beauty or personal care products. Vanity Wagon makes sure you get what you search – Natural – Organic Beauty. There is no compromise there and that is the USP of Vanity Wagon – A Niche Natural – Organic Beauty Market (with no other competition in the market)

Vanity Wagon logo

Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer?
Ans:
In India, the online beauty markets are all mixed with multiple categories – natural is one of them. This increases consumer search time and reduces the pleasure of shopping for a user of natural/ organic products. We wanted to create a niche, purely organic and natural beauty marketplace.

Our ideal customer is someone who is health conscious and is aware of the harmful effects of chemical-laden cosmetics, on their skin and hair. He or she is highly aware, conscious and particular about the kind of products they want for themselves and realize the importance of organic and natural products, which are free of any toxins or harmful substances.

Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans:
I personally don’t consider any event as a failure, as I am still learning as an entrepreneur and everything I do creates a learning opportunity for me. My biggest learning through the journey has been that you have to trust your instincts and follow your heart. As a startup founder, I have often had moments where a host of suggestions and ideas would float around and my task to lead would be often clouded with these ideas. It is only later that I realized that the decision has to be mine and I must be ready to live by the consequences of the same.

Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans:
We associate with premium organic and natural brands which are priced quite affordably. We also keep offering discounts on different products from time to time so that the customers get value for money and are satisfied with their shopping experience.

Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans:
The first few customers at Vanity Wagon were friends and family who were keen to explore what I had started and wanted to do their bit in supporting my initiative. We launched the marketplace in Sept 18 and within one week clocked our first 20 orders, beyond the ones ordered by family and friends.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans:
Vanity Wagon is bootstrapped and is working towards raising early stage investment in FY 19-20. The shareholders at present are the founding members.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans:
In Jan 2019 Vanity Wagon recorded its 1000’th sale and this was a major milestone achieved. In ecommerce it’s a constant battle to grow the community and create a trust platform. This milestone was a reminder of the good work the team had put in and also a confirmation that we were moving in the right direction

Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans:
The idea is to create a community of organic lovers. We are disseminating large amounts of content on our platforms and also allied platforms that are enabling individuals to make the switch to organics in their lives. The aim of this is to bring the realization of the greater good these products have and how it can change the way we look and feel about ourselves without compromising on our skin and health. Vanity Wagon is looking to bring every Indian natural – organic beauty brand on board to create a market that offers you every organic beauty product out there!

Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? What is the current turnover? (From Launching till date total no. of visitors on website/persons registered/enquiries and enrollment). Please explain in details:
Ans:
Since launch Vanity Wagon has clocked 1 lac users with 1600 orders under our belt. We are growing at a staggering 40% month on month and have a returning user rate of 25%. That being said our biggest USP is our content and we have achieved some great milestones including 1600 forum members, and our very own magazine – “Vanity Mag”. The same is distributed across 1000 users every month giving them an insight into what’s good out there and what we are doing in the last month and coming months. Our current product tally is up to 700, brand tally is 27 and over 65 categories listed on the portal.

We are also launching India’s first multi-brand organic beauty and wellness subscription box – The Belle Box by Vanity Wagon in June 2019.

Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles.
Ans:
The idea was thought of by Naina post her stint in London, UK. The market research and study showed tremendous industry growth and also a promise for a brand like Vanity Wagon to create a niche space for itself. That being said Prateek and Naina went on to initiate the set-up of Vanity Wagon when Sahil Shrestha (the operational team leader) jumped in and went on to complete the founding team.

Naina Ruhail is an established media Influencer and Professional Make-Up Artist in India. She completed her MBA in2012 and then went on to specialise in Beauty & Skincare with her education at London School of Styling and London School of Makeup. She has 7 years of professional experience in marketing and brand building.

An MBA from University of Oxford with a Dean’s Commendation Award, Prateek Ruhail has 3 years of Project Finance (Legal) and 4 years of Business Management experience. His area of expertise is business strategy and core management. He also has led Mega Infrastructure Project financings, thereby understanding the nuances of financial management in India.

Sahil Shrestha has an educational qualification in management and technology. Post completion of his MBA in 2012 he went on to work in different facets of operations, from leading the events team at EO2 Event Management, he founded Plan Makers (a digital marketing portal, driving local vendors marketing). At Vanity Wagon, he leads the operational vertical and bringing the best of his experiences on board.

Our team has grown from 3 to 11 today and all this is attributable directly to the growth at Vanity Wagon. The aim here is to create a great shopping experience for the users and also a market where they love buying beauty and wellness products that are actually good for them too. That being said our current team is split up as follows:

  1. Content and Media – We have a senior graphic designer, graphic interns, a senior content writer, and me (Naina Ruhail) leading the team.
  2. Tech and Marketing – The tech and marketing team comprises of 3 members including our CTO – Mr. Vaibhav Jain. He comes from over 7 years of core marketing expertise having growing varied companies turnover with his skill in the field.
  3. Operations and Logistics – The op team is led by one of the Co-Founders, Sahil Shrestha. He has over 7 years of core operations experience also having initiated a B2C startup in the past – ‘Plan of Action’. The team also comprises of warehousing specialists and a partnership with India’s top logistic companies – Blue Dart, DHL, Delhivery, Ecom Express.

The entire team is led by the CEO – Prateek Ruhail who hails from a business and banking law background with over 8 years of experience under his belt. He has an MBA from Oxford University and heads the strategy division of Vanity Wagon alongside Naina Ruhail.

Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans:
Competition for Vanity Wagon comes in different shades – direct & indirect. All the major beauty markets at present have established themselves as multi-industry markets right from fashion to beauty to gadgets. Whether, its Nykaa or Purplle or Flipkart, the consumers have to fish out natural beauty products from a host of other products and this makes the shopping experience tedious and less pleasurable. Vanity Wagon creates a space where an individual only has natural options be it in makeup, skincare, bathing essentials or wellness. Everything on the portal is non-harmful chemical driven and makes it easy for a consumer to get hooked onto clean beauty.

Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans:
With revenue growth of 100% month on month the company is destined towards great success in the long term. Starting off with a limited brand base, it now boasts over 25 brands including some top players in Natural Beauty such as Mamaearth, Ruby’s Organics, Indulgeo Essentials, Raw Nature, etc. Vanity Wagon should become the synonym for Organic products. Our aim is to be a part of every household in India through our beauty-wellness-personal care categories.

Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans:
The success of a venture is always about the team. A great team is a must to bring your business forward and reach new heights. Plus, you need to have passion, creativity and resilience. If you have these three skills, you are ready to embark on the startup journey. Believe in your dream, work towards it and greatness will follow.

Q.: Any other information you would like to share?
Ans:
The journey for Vanity Wagon has been phenomenal with growth across all fronts. Our team is focused on the solution we offer and are inclined towards making the shopping experience better each day. We are here to stay and make India the biggest market for organic and natural beauty products.
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Thanks Naina. Best wishes!

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