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How Forest Essentials became a top player in the luxury Ayurveda cosmetics market

18 Jul , 2017  

His mother launched the Ayurvedic beauty brand and he made it an icon among Indian luxury labels. For Samrath Bedi, there’s no other place for Forest Essentials than at the top.

 

Aekta Kapoor

 

After studying Economics and Psychology at the University of Rochester in New York, Samrath Bedi was set for a career in corporate banking when his mother Mira Kulkarni began dabbling in Ayurvedic skincare products back home. Intrigued, Bedi returned to New Delhi in 2002 to check out what looked like “an interesting project.” He never left.

 

Starting from a single flagship store in Khan Market, New Delhi, Forest Essentials is now one of India’s leading beauty brands, retailing from almost 50 points of sale across 15 cities. Though the concept was Kulkarni’s idea, it took the brand’s Executive Director, Bedi’s execution to scale up the business. “We are a yin-and-yang combination,” smiles Bedi about their relationship. “She’s impulsive, while I’m logic-driven. She has the vision and I take care of the implementation. We have different personalities and this works, yielding maximum long-term impact.” The mother-son duo were clear about the division of responsibilities very early on in the business. While Kulkarni looks after the R&D and branding, Bedi handles the business operations and ensures that the processes are in place. “We have played to our strengths,” he says.

 

Samrath Bedi, Executive Director, Forest Essentials ventured into the luxury beauty industry nearly 15 years ago

Samrath Bedi, Executive Director, Forest Essentials ventured into the luxury beauty industry nearly 15 years ago

 

The Indian skincare major is known for the traditional techniques it follows in formulating preparations. Ayurveda suggests that every person has a different “prakriti” or body type, which determines their skin and hair quality, thus necessitating personalised treatments. Due to this reason, Kulkarni and Bedi decided
 to retail mostly from their 
own showrooms, even
 if that meant investing 
more. “The shop-in-shop 
model isn’t very viable; 
there are too many external
 variables. We need our 
retail staff to be informed
 about Ayurveda and the
 ingredients that go into 
every product. We need
 to create a specific luxury 
ambience. That’s just not 
possible if we have to deal
 with different department stores who have rotating staff,” he explains.

 

Forest Essential’s lineup includes about 250 products across hair care, skincare, mother and baby care and wellness

Forest Essential’s lineup includes about 250 products across hair care, skincare, mother and baby care and wellness

 

The past 16 years have been invested in building a strong base for the brand, he says. “We’ve seen exponential growth, but there is plenty of ground to cover. We have to keep raising the bar and keep the momentum going,” says the 42-year-old, referring to the proliferation of me-too brands in the market. Forest Essential’s lineup includes about 250 products across hair care, skincare, mother and baby care and wellness. They have tied-up with about 220 hotels to supply toiletries for guest rooms, including The Taj Group, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton and employ more than 400 people across the country. “The luxury beauty market is still very nascent in India, and we are very small compared to what we could have been, say, in a market like China, where infrastructure would have given me access to 45 cities, not just 15,” he says. Bedi is unconcerned about “disrupters” like Baba Ramdev, the yoga guru who has made waves with his low-cost beauty products. “Patanjali is creating new consumers from rural areas. It’s helping grow the Indian beauty market,” he says. When those customers graduate to luxury goods, Forest Essentials will be among the brands that benefit.

 

Bedi is unperturbed by me-too brands proliferating the market and believes that competition will help grow the business

Bedi is unperturbed by me-too brands proliferating the market and believes that competition will help grow the business

 

Working with his mother was challenging initially, but in the long run, it has taught Bedi the art of listening and has helped him become more patient. “I have evolved along the way,” he admits, “I realise the importance of understanding and respecting another’s point of view.” It helps that he loves what he does. “It’s not work for me,” he laughs. Exactly the words that his mother would have used.

 

 

 

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One Response

  1. Minni says:

    Forest Essentials products are very skin friendly. I have tried the radiance cream from their soundarya collection, and its gives your skin extra smoothing.

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