Small-scale Nyassa blows fresh air into bath, bodycare biz

With the Indian personal care market estimated at a whopping Rs 40,000 crore and growing, 35-year old Ishween Anand has decided to revolutionise the fresh and fragrant business with a special range of handcrafted of products through her venture, Nyassa.

Founded in 2006, Nyassa has a retail presence in most Indian metros and has grossed a revenue of Rs 4 crore. Ishween is now looking at entering the corporate-gift segment and also intends taking the brand global.

So how did you get shelf space and market-share in a hugely competitive market?

Ishween Anand: You have all the commercial houses selling soaps and detergents to the masses and then there’s the Ayurvedic-products segment. But we do sell just soaps, lotions or air fresheners, we offer an experience. With minimal use of chemicals, the user gets a very fragrant experience.

Though there are some well-known brands in the market that consistently sell very high-quality products, that is something they have been doing for many years and in those stores there is nothing new, nothing exciting. Then you have companies which sell foreign-made bath and body products. Our USP is to offer products that are freshly made and are of high-quality. Where we stand out is that we have the ability to offer fragrances from India as well as something from around the world.

Ishween started Nyassa with an essential investment of Rs 25 lakh and as the products are handcrafted, there was little investment on machinery. Today she retails pure natural handmade soaps, gels, face wash, body butter and foot creams in 12 stores across Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore. But the journey hasn’t been smooth sailing.

Ishween Anand: Coming back from the US and starting a business in India for the very first time, was a little difficult. Fortunately my father helped me with the premises to start the business. But it was a challenge when I had to go looking for vendors as the quality and kind of products that I was asking for in 2006 was not available. Another challenge was getting a licence, because in India the rules for handmade bath and body products and large scale manufacture are the same.

So I had to convince the authorities for some leeway in the rules. Thanks to my previous experience in finance, I can look at my books every month and know exactly what needs to be fixed. The whole experience was very helpful and I don’t think it will go away easily .

Registering a growth rate of 60% year-on-year, Ishween claims that a large share of business comes through institutional sales which include hotels and spas like the Taj and Marriott. Nyassa has also tied up with pharma majors like Ranbaxy, Cipla and Novartis for corporate-gifts. In the pipeline, are plans to sell via the Internet.

Ishween Anand: Our products range from Rs 135 to about Rs 600 for an individual product. The gift hampers go upto Rs 5,000. There are different products that we offer for the hospitality industry. We also offer a huge variety of diffusers and diffuser-oils that are used in hotel lobbies or on their floors. One of our latest products is the re-diffuser which  doesn’t require to be lit and have become a hit at a lot of hotels.

While institutional sales will be Nyassa’s main stay, Ishween is eyeing an expansion of the retail business. She hopes to double her revenues by Rs 8 crore next year and is exploring global forays.

Ishween: We have also begun to cater to the overseas market. We have a couple of orders from Singapore and Malaysia and enquiries have come in from Japan and Europe. What I wish to emphasise here is that we’re not focused on just financial growth. We are also looking very closely at the entire customer experience. At all our stores, there are well-trained staff who introduce customers to newer products.