Melissa Juried Kriebel
It was during the first COVID-19-induced lockdown that Mumbai-based Madhul Chaudhary started experiencing skin problems. Little did she know that she would soon leave her investment banking job to find a panacea for her skin.
“I have very sensitive skin and the soaps I was using were making it dry, so, I felt that there was a gap in the market which can be filled with better quality skincare products made with clean, pure ingredients,” articulates the 20-something Madhul, who founded what she says is India’s first whipped skincare range – LEAL.
Madhul says that not only are her products toxin-free, but they also have a rich, creamy texture and are multi-functional. The soaps can double up as a shaving cream and provide ample moisture to the skin, she says.
Says Madhul on LEAL (means loyal and honest), “Since skincare is considered ‘me time’, we aim to be true and transparent to our customer’s needs by providing effective skincare products.”
Madhul used her savings from her job to fund her business. There were no loans or external funding for my venture, she clarifies.
LEAL’s whipped soaps, sugar scrubs, and moisturising lip butters are vegan, cruelty-free, and made from plant-derived formulations. They have four different types of whipped soaps with different fragrances that cater to different types of skin. Its founder says that the ingredients are ethically sourced from different parts of India.
Madhul recounts how the lockdown restrictions posed a challenge to her business. Thankfully, she says, “my products came under essential needs and hence, I could continue processing orders.”
Crediting the success of her business to word-of-mouth reviews, Madhul recounts, “We initially started selling on Instagram but after receiving overwhelming positive feedback, we launched our website and started selling there.” Today, their products are available on all e-retail platforms. LEAL also does pop-ups and they plan to sell their products offline in the future.
A proud Madhul shares: “A customer told me that her kid started bathing multiple times a day once he started using our whipped soaps. There were many who also said that their acne and skin pigmentation improved after using our products,” she recalls, adding that customers are today aware of the need for good skincare including the men.
Madhul also feels that there is a change in the stereotypical consumer perspective – Cosmetic products are mostly made for women. “Customers are becoming well-informed and aware of the need for skincare. It is not only women-oriented but today, men also equally realize the importance of skincare,” she says.
While LEAL’s products are priced on the higher side, Madhul attributes that to the high-quality ingredients used. She believes that “people will start normalising the use of whipped soaps after they realise its utility, then they won’t mind paying a premium for it.”
What next? Madhul is awaiting the launch of two new products – Whipped Lip Scrubs and Whipped Body Butters which have been in the making for a year now.
We ask her what an ideal skincare routine should be like. “It should be simple and basic,” exclaims Madhul. “You needn’t use too many products and you must be able to follow through with the routine. It doesn’t vary among genders but it is skin type and age-specific,” she concludes.