“Women entrepreneurs in mindsets need to embrace and embody our natural strengths. More specifically in India, we need to have bold visions, build the ability for consistent action, use our grit through the ups and downs (there will be tons of downs and hiccups), and mostly be focused on your goals, your mission, and your people.” Srishti Raai, Co-founder, SOEZI
Meet Srishti Raai, a young female entrepreneur leading the nail industry in India. It’s all about bringing authenticity to your fingertips! Srishti Raai along with the Bollywood diva Sonakshi Sinha has founded a one of a kind, premium press-on nail brand – SOEZI, with the vision to create chic, long lasting, damage and cruelty free press-on nail brand. In a dialogue with Shree Lahiri, she speaks about the evolving nail industry in India, the challenges faced, the competition, future plans and more….
Q1. How did you think about becoming an entrepreneur and how did you focus on nail art?
Growing up, I have been surrounded by first generation entrepreneurs and this made me
realize how exciting and thrilling entrepreneurship could be. With this exposure, I focused on business and law as a degree and that furthered my fervor for all things business. I am aware of how lucky I am to be living in times where so much is possible in innovation when it comes to products and markets. I have constantly been on the lookout for gaps in the market, needs that are unserved that might be opportunities for business. As a devout to “great nails” and fashion in general, I was facing troubles in constantly going to nail salons with my busy schedule. The pandemic further heightened the need for innovation in this sphere. Sonakshi and I both felt the pain and had a common dream about defining the space!
Q2. What are some strengths that a woman entrepreneur should possess?
Women entrepreneurs in mindsets need to embrace and embody our natural strengths. More specifically in India, we need to have bold visions, build the ability for consistent action, use our grit through the ups and downs (there will be tons of downs and hiccups) and mostly be focused on your goals, your mission and your people. The new strength I have realized and embraced is collaborating, supporting, cheering for and partnering up with other women (and/or men) who share your values and vision.
Q3. Could you tell us about the challenges faced by you?
It is a competitive market, our biggest challenge was going for excellence and high quality and managing pricing and value that our customers pay. Launching a product business is not easy, there is so much paperwork and logistics we have to manage, navigate constant fires across manufacturing, recruitment, legal, marketing. We conceptualized, designed, tested our business during the peaks of the pandemic so that was definitely a very big challenge – not being able to meet our users for testing, setting up a unit, doing big campaign shoots with restrictions was definitely one for the books!
Q4. How is competition in your business area?
India is a big market (the 4th globally) for generating the highest revenue from the beauty and personal care market. We have big players like P&G, L’oreal dominating the market, but the great part is we now see so many homegrown brands really coming to the fore with successful products and business models. The market is projected to grow to USD 33 billion in the next 5 years. We are also seeing homegrown brands by celebrities and influencers more than we have ever seen in the past. There is so much going on both on the supply and demand side, it is truly a great time to be in this market and create a dent.
Q5. How did you try to make your business different?
It is simple in principle, but was hard to execute – we focused on a gap in the market, we unearthed a need and challenge that users of nail-related products face. Once you find that sweet spot, your solutions will be different. Typically, users when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products are torn between quality, price, and feasibility. If it’s easy, it’s not durable. If it’s high quality it’s not easy on your pockets. If it’s easy on your pockets it’s probably not your best bet either. You either put on nail paint (which is hard), go through the time and cost of nail treatments or not do anything because it’s… hard! So we wanted to differentiate by being easy, democratized and really high quality.We wanted to not just create a product but a full experience that empowers you, reduces hassle and makes you feel glamorous (be a great return on your investment in all ways).
Q6. What are your future plans?
We want to stay deep rooted and informed by the needs of our users – women, girls, men, others and constantly innovate and create to make beauty SOEZI (so easy). Maybe soon our customer needs and the market will take us further than nails, but for now we are here to nail our press-on & nail focused game.
Q7. Any tips for someone starting out today?
Entrepreneurship can not be taught, it’s only through action. If you want to start- start! Be bold, be smart (start small) but start and embody the entrepreneurial mindset – we go big, we take risks, we see things differently and we create.