Meet Priyanka Ganjoo, founder of clean beauty brand Kulfi Beauty. Founded in 2021, Kulfi Beauty is rooted in South Asian culture and dedicated to cultivating a community that makes clean beauty fun. Our team was fortunate enough to sit down with Priyanka, as she spoke with us about her entrepreneurial journey, her inspiration behind starting Kulfi and more!
Hi Priyanka! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with our Tini Lux team! Can you first start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey?
I grew up in Delhi, where I was surrounded by a narrow definition of beauty. In my twenties, I spent time working in the corporate beauty industry prior to founding Kulfi Beauty. It was there that I began to recognize the lack of representation for the South Asian community in the global beauty industry and the impact it had on me.
Running a business isn’t always easy, but I have been so lucky to have support from my community and family along the way. Having the ability to ask questions and for advice makes entrepreneurship less lonely.
What was your inspiration behind starting Kulfi Beauty? Can you talk more about the mission behind the brand and the meaning behind the name Kulfi?
Kulfi is a dessert in South Asian culture that’s similar to ice cream. Eating Kulfi in my hometown are some of my happiest childhood memories. For me, the word represents joy and fun. I wanted to redefine the beauty industry and bring my South Asian heritage to the forefront.
I founded Kulfi Beauty in February of 2021, with a mission to bring South Asian beauty to the industry. Growing up, I never wore makeup because I was told makeup was a way to attract the male gaze or look like you had a lighter complexion. I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was 22, and while I was exploring different brands and experimenting, I rarely came across South Asian representation. My collections are inspired by the colors, traditions, and textures of South Asia and our shades complement South Asian skin tones and undertones.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting Kulfi Beauty?
Our storytelling platform and social media have brought a large community to the forefront of my business. I never expected to find such a strong community in this industry, but it truly has brought joy to the line of work. Speaking with our community to understand their beauty needs makes me really enthusiastic to continue to create products that work for them.
When looking at your marketing and advertising strategies, what would you say has been the most successful platform in terms of growth and why do you think that is?
Social media is a huge part of our marketing strategy. Even before we launched, we engaged with our community with our blog, Kulfi Bites. It was a space by and for Gen Z where we discussed culture, mental health, beauty, and careers. We’ve evolved these conversations to a video format on TikTok and Instagram through our own content as well as partnerships with influencers. The community members we’ve engaged with on social media and our early customers have been our biggest advocates.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since starting your own brand and how did you overcome it?
I launched Kulfi Beauty during a pandemic, which came with a ton of hurdles and attempts to anticipate the unexpected. Between material shortages and delays, even shipping samples was difficult. I applaud the brand’s perseverance to stay optimistic and flexible as a team throughout those challenges.
Beyond the pandemic, starting a business is definitely challenging in itself. Navigating the process was easier thanks to major support from my community. I drew knowledge from interviews, surveys, focus groups, and people I met on my journey. This helped define my product roadmap and gave me my start.
When creating a brand, it’s important to create a trusted community atmosphere and provide a solution for consumers. How do you think Kulfi successfully cultivates a community feeling for consumers?
Kulfi Beauty was created entirely with the community in mind. There is so much color and artistry in our culture that can get lost in the patriarchal norms and eurocentric beauty ideals we’ve been surrounded with. We are reframing how makeup is viewed within our community and the message of joy in makeup has resonated with a broader audience . Every touchpoint our consumer has, from our packaging, to shades, to campaign images and models reflect our commitment to our mission.
What does the future look like for Kulfi Beauty? What would you say is your 5-year vision for the company?
My goal with Kulfi is to create a beauty playground that invites everyone to be their loud and proud self. I hope to continue creating space for diversity in the beauty industry and to change the belief that there is a limited amount of space for BIPOC-founded brands. At Kulfi, we’ll see exciting new product launches that innovate on texture, colors, and formulas with my culture as inspiration.
How does Kulfi successfully differentiate itself from its competitors?
Our approach to beauty centering joy and South Asian culture differentiates us. Each product is thoughtfully designed and implements pieces of tradition and culture. Like our Kajal liner; in South Asian heritage, wearing Kajal eyeliner is part of every daily routine. Our product pays homage to those traditions while using formulas that speak to younger generations.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking about starting their own business or what has been the best piece of advice you have received along the way?
For those starting a business, or thinking about starting a business, I say just go for it! The best way to learn is by doing - but, be intentional with every aspect of your brand. People can tell when you’ve put your heart and soul into something and they’re drawn to that. Once you begin the search for investors, choose them wisely, and be careful who you bring into your business. It is important for those surrounding you to be on board with your long-term goals and passionate about your mission.