By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate Editor, Gulf News
Entrepreneurial sisters got the first certificate for producing Halal cosmetics in the subcontinent
Dubai: Two young Indian sisters are seeking to make a mark in the highly competitive global cosmetics market worth billions of dollars annually and dominated by industry giant.
The sisters, from Teli family in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, are looking at a “niche market” — halal make-up.
“Cosmetics is a very competitive business. There are a lot of big, big companies in it and we are just starting,” said Mauli Teli, chief executive and Managing partner at Ecotrail Personal Care Co., which was established in 2012, and started operations last September with the launch Iba cosmetics.
“We really need to differentiate our products, offering lot more value in order to enable the consumer to try our products,” she added in an interview with Gulf News from her office in India.
“When I moved to India, I wanted to launch a brand. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and start something of my own,” said Mauli, in her early 30s.
“And when you look at India as a country, there are many kinds of people here, people of different and diverse backgrounds, faith and in terms of need perspective. Basically, every state in India is different,” she added.
In the cosmetics space, “India is dominated by multinational and Ayurvedic brands. But at the same time, the whole natural cosmetics space was not been addressed adequately, in the sense that there are brands which are not being able to adhere to a particular requirement of a consumer aspect, for example, animal derived ingredients.”
Coming from a non-Muslim family with a background in pharmaceuticals, Mauli and her sister, Grishma Teli, who is in her 20s, carried on a detailed research before the launch.
Grishma, a biotechnology professional, obtained her Master’s degree from Houston University. She is the vice president of Ecotrail Company.
“We did a lot of research for almost a year across many states in India, and we fell that you know this [Halal] is something very new for cosmetics, that there is a latent need … because if you meet Muslim women in India, there are certain products that they don’t use.
For example, lipstick because they have concern that it has pork fat in it, or alcohol based sprays, or fragrances which they may use, but they use in a very limited way, because it interfere with namaz [prayers].”
With nearly 14 per cent of their population are Muslims; India has the second-largest Muslim population after Indonesia. There are certified halal make-up products in both Indonesia and Malaysia.
Encouraged by the anticipated demand for halal make-up, the sisters, who are non-Muslims, started their project. “I am a Jain. We didn’t really feel that because we are not Muslim, we should not do halal,” she said.
Ecotrail is the first company in India to get a Halal Certification for cosmetics produced by Iba. All “Iba” products are free from anything that comes from animals or are alcohol-based.
Products include creams, lotions, shampoos, and cosmetics, such as lipstick and Kajal. “We don’t even use milk, or honey, or beeswax, because all these products are animal-derived ingredients,” Mauli said. “They are also vegan.”
Fruits and vegetables, such as aloe vera, pomegranates and figs are among the products’ ingredients, she explained. Iba, which is an Arabic word meaning self-respect, was chosen for that, Mauli said.
According to press reports, the halal category, globally, is a $4 trillion-strong market, where cosmetics, account for nearly $26 billion.
Asked about the halal market in India, Mauli said: “In India, no research has been done on how big the halal market is.”
But, “in general, I can say that the cosmetics market in India is growing at double digits, because it is an under penetrated market and all companies right now are focusing now on growth on India in terms of cosmetics” Mauli added.
Public reaction to the products in the first two months was encouraging, said Mauli.
Earlier, the products were available only in Ahmedabad, but starting from November 10, they became available to buy online all over India.
Plans are under study to start exporting outside India early next year. Especially, there are some inquires from Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.
The project is a brainchild of Mauli, the elder sister, when she returned to India after obtaining her master’s degree in pharmaceutical studies from Michigan University and was working in management consulting in pharma and health care field.