Priyanka Ganjoo is the founder and CEO of Kulfi Beauty, a company that celebrates South Asian beauty through ultra pigmented eyeliners that glide on like a dream. After helping indie and established brands grow their business in the beauty industry, Priyanka realized there was little to no South Asian representation in the beauty space. Kulfi Beauty is the result of Priyanka’s journey in rediscovering the joy in makeup for herself. P.S. Did you know that Kulfi is a colourful, delicious South Asian ice cream?
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Kulfi Beauty?
Growing up in the South Asian community, there was a lot of judgment around wearing makeup. I grew up extremely uncomfortable and awkward around the idea of “beauty.” Because of this, I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was 22. Ironically enough, I started working in the corporate beauty industry helping indie and established brands grow their business, however, I rarely saw South Asian representation at the forefront. Eventually, I grew tired of waiting and I decided to leave my job in the corporate world to start Kulfi Beauty.
My vision in launching Kulfi was to present to the world an empowered South Asian, who is not only comfortable in their own skin but thriving in it. It is also the result of my journey of rediscovering the joy in makeup for myself and reclaiming my beauty for myself. I wanted Kulfi to represent and proudly share the voice of the South Asian community within the beauty industry. Kulfi Beauty puts the South Asian community at the forefront: our skin tones, undertones, and skin concerns are all taken into consideration when formulating and developing our products.
Can you talk about your experience in the beauty industry and what you’ve learned?
People in overlooked minority groups, such as the South Asian community, are often taught that beauty isn’t something that can be tailored to each person’s specific wants and needs. When strolling through makeup aisles, I would think to myself, “I’ll take what I can get.” The beauty industry has limited space for BIPOC-founded brands and products, and it isn’t enough for the industry to be truly inclusive and diverse.
When Kulfi was first starting out, we were told time and time again, “Sorry, we already represent a woman of color brand.” There’s a long-held belief that the industry only has a room for a handful of BIPOC brands, but following the overwhelmingly positive response that we saw from Kulfi’s launch, along with the brand’s success throughout this journey, it’s clear to me that the beauty industry needs to change the narrative to highlight BIPOC brands in order to celebrate and amplify their unique messages. The industry needs BIPOC-owned brands that showcase a variety of stories, backgrounds, and products. Everyone should be able to experience beauty that was made for everyone — no one should have to compromise on their individuality.
One of the things that I am most proud of is building a community from the ground up through social media, one on one interactions, and our storytelling platform, Kulfi Bites.
We held online events with our community. For example, we had a panel with South Asian women in entrepreneurship. I got on a phone call with almost everyone who wrote in.
It is so important to connect with your community in order to develop an in-depth understanding of their beauty needs. After spending hundreds of hours speaking to members of our community, we were able to create products that are not only high quality and affordable, but also bring customers joy and create a space where they can share their own stories.
How do you balance your entrepreneur life with your social life, especially with friends/family who don’t fully understand the challenges that come with running your own business?
Surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is so important to get you through the rejections and hard times. Running a business isn’t always easy, and there’s still so much to learn. In the beginning stages, I was lucky to have so much support from my community and family and I still do! A huge source of inspiration and community for me has been fellow BIPOC entrepreneurs. When I need advice, I often get on a phone call or text this circle to get a different perspective from someone who is on a similar path. It makes entrepreneurship less lonely! Taking the time to step back, being mindful, and finding ways to stay connected are crucial.
What tips or advice do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?
For those who haven’t started a business, or are about to, I say just go for it! You truly only learn from doing, but when you put your heart and soul into everything you do, people see that and are drawn to it. Sometimes, it can be beneficial to take things slowly rather than do everything at once. As tempting as it is to get everything done quickly, it is important to be intentional and thoughtful about every aspect of the brand. At the end of the day, the quality of work triumphs and really helps build up your brand. In terms of investors, look for those who are passionate about your long-term vision, rather than those who are just a fair-weather friend. Choose investors wisely and be particular about who you bring into your business.Follow Priyanka Ganjoo:
Personal Instagram: @priyankaganjoo
Kulfi Beauty Instagram: @kulfi.beauty
Kulfi Beauty Website: kulfibeauty.com
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