JUICY CHEMISTRY – Personal Care and Cosmetics Range with the Lush Goodness of Nature.

Presenting Juicy Chemistry, co-founded by the dynamic duo Pritesh and Megha Asher. They started by formulating soaps in a makeshift kitchen lab and went on to create certified products with the right market fit, attracting marquee investors.

 

Founders Pritesh and Megha Asher

Purpose and perseverance

We’ve covered over a hundred of stories of start ups and mid sized businesses and it’s heartening when we come across some who have stayed the course and actually turned their idea into a flourishing business. This is the story of Juicy Chemistry, a Coimbatore-based organic personal care and cosmetics brand that’s caught our interest on many levels. It’s a brand born out of 10 x 10 feet kitchen with a very clear purpose to offer consumers a certified organic range. Today they are present in 250 locations with 8 flagship stores across India, servicing 12000  pin codes. They also have a footprint in 6 countries and ship to 20 countries. We carry this story with the belief that it will provide takeaways and pointers for budding entrepreneurs to learn from and build profitable businesses, while providing opportunities for their local community. 

 

Products for face, eyes and lips

The differentiator

In a market space that has new brands mushrooming everyday, what sets Juicy Chemistry apart is its focus on being authentically organic. The Juicy Chemistry range includes face, body, hair, skin care products and deodorants. More recently the brand has launched a colour cosmetic range, called Colour Chemistry (CC) for lips and eyes. “Yes, there are so many products claiming to be organic, but we wanted a differentiator that would set us apart. And so we searched around for an agency that could certify our products when we started off. Unfortunately, while there are such bodies to certify food products we couldn’t find any for beauty and personal care ones, until our research led us all the way to Aurangabad,” says Pritesh Asher, who co-founded Juicy Chemistry with his wife Megha Asher.

Packaging

The process of certification

Juicy Chemistry products are certified by Ecocert (France), which has a representative office in India. The requirements for the certification process, in accordance with COSMOS V3 standards, are so rigorous that the team had to revamp their entire supply chain. “It was an uphill battle! Everything from soil up, right from the seeds that are sown, crops that come out and the pesticides & fungicides used, have to be organic. The soil itself has to be conditioned for 3 years before it can bear fully organic produce,” says Pritesh. “This process helped us understand that the ingredients we had been procuring from the market till then were sub standard and not wholly organic at all!” 

The trigger

Which brings us to the start of the Juicy Chemistry story. This was way back in 2014 when Megha Asher was looking to go the natural route with her personal care routine. She was shopping around for natural alternatives as medicated products were not helping with her PCOD issues. On a routine visit to their local supermarket they saw a product which the salesperson claimed was organic. “The front of the product said it had Hibiscus, Amla and Neem but the back label told a different story. When I read the ingredients I realized they were mostly synthetic products used in the petrochemical industry! I knew because that was my family business,” asserts Pritesh. His curiosity to explore further was triggered when Megha shared that these were the kind of products available in the commercial market.

Sweat and toil

Taking the lead, Pritesh dug deep and started looking at the ingredients and formulations in all products used in their household. Since he did not have a background in chemistry or cosmetics it took him two years to come up with their first batch of organic soaps replacing inactive ingredients with active organic ones. Though Megha was running a successful boutique the Ashers were not financially strong enough to start off a business in full swing. “We took ₹ 5000 to experiment and worked from a 10 ft x 10 ft kitchen. We would go into Sunday markets with a fresh batch of organic products and stand behind a ₹500 counter sharing our learnings and findings. Also, with Megha being in the clothing and jewellery space we had the right target audience,” says Pritesh.

Using specialized equipment to create high quality products

Sticking it out through thick and thin

The going was never easy. They had to shell out a huge fee to apply for the certification. And the process itself was challenging. They had to collate the nomenclature of 450 ingredients and mapped them with the suppliers they onboarded. The first six month doing this was tough as the vendors they approached for the ingredients had never faced these kind of detailed requirements. “They thought we were cuckoo!” in Pritesh’s words. So what kept them going?

“We wanted to do right by the consumer. There was no transparency of information. There were no safe certified products for consumers, especially expectant mothers, nursing mothers and new mothers with concerns such as stretch marks, pigmentation etc. Most of these products were retailing outside of India. “So when I saw the difference in the quality and consistency when we sourced organic ingredients and used them, I was clear we had to make this the DNA of our products,” says Pritesh.

Accessories

Creating a convincing brand

The couple realised that customers didn’t find the natural products in the market appealing enough at a sensory level to use them everyday.  “So we decided that while our products would be as clean and organic as possible, that should not take away from the sensorial appeal of using a high end personal care product. So we went back to the drawing board and relooked at that aspect too,” explains Pritesh. It took them a year to get the certification for one product and then they were like, “If we can do it for one product, we can do it for all!” They went about convincing local farmers that certification can improve their earnings. For example in mangoes, while the powder can be used in cosmetics the farmers are able to sell the puree to European market for slushies etc. Getting streamlined into the organized organic space has helped farmers in the region.

Serums, balms and other personal care products

Making it work as a business

Their next focus was to stabilize the products to extend the shelf life to make it a sustainable business. By removing water from the formulation they could do away with chelating agents, emulsification agents, stabilizers, ph balancers and so on. “So from the initial 6 months we were able to extend shelf life to 12 months and then 18 months just by changing a few processes in production and by adding antioxidants like rosemary and Vit E. We also added water grade ingredients and COSMOS approved preservation techniques,” Pritesh adds. They also had to understand formulations, how they would be used and the delivery mechanism for different products. For example leave-in and rinse off products needed different ingredients and formulations to be able to deliver the nutrients at right time to the chosen layer of the skin. With all this knowledge gained over two years they became experts in figuring out which functional actives were to be taken from which part of the plant.

The Colour Chemistry range of cosmetics

Finding investors and going global

“In 2019 we registered the business. We had proven product-market fit and repeatability of customers. Now we needed capital to scale and that’s when we got our angel investment to the tune of USD 6,50,000. This helped us move into a start up mode. The market dynamics during Covid gave us a tailwind and we went back to the market with a 7 million dollar investment from marquee investors such as Belgium’s Verlinvest. We were one of the first brands in India at that point in the skin and personal care business to attract such an investment,” explains Pritesh. 

The brand now aspires to become a nationwide player and then go global. We have no doubt they’ll get there. 

Visit juicychemistry.com to know more about their journey and products.

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