Why is this vegan handbag company getting into the beauty business?

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Sugandh Agrawal, founder of GUNAS
Sugandh Agrawal, founder of GUNAS
Thanks to funding from an anonymous angel investor, GUNAS will soon be selling soaps. The company Sugandh Agrawal founded in 2009 is, according to New York City – based financial advisor Neil Mohinani, currently valued at $5 million and by 2025 that figure will jump to $100 million.

In a media release issued yesterday, Sugandh Agrawal, founder of GUNAS explained her decision to get into the personal care business saying, “Beauty soaps have a huge opportunity in terms of being animal-free and formulated with pure ingredients,”​ and she continued, describing the company’s “new direction”​ as “an extension of our core values of inner beauty inside and out, without harming any living being.”

The brand

Gunas is a handbag brand that meets the expectations of classically fashionable conscious millennial consumers. Last year the brand won an Independent Handbag Designer Award from Macy’s for Best Retail Handbag for a design known as the Livia Backpack + Satchel convertible bag.

And the whole brand got its start in 2009, when professional industrial designer Sugandh Agrawal put her international wherewithal, her Pratt Institute education, and her “firm” ​belief "that animals do not belong in fashion” ​to the task.

The brand’s success with today’s conscious consumer coupled with the confidence that what vegan handbag shoppers want so too will skin care consumers want speaks to a new sort of credibility and brand loyalty that exists in today’s marketplace; that is, mission-led (or cause-based) lifestyle branding.

The plan

According to the media release, GUNAS has, with the help of New York City – based financial advisor Neil Mohinani, “successfully completed its seed investment round of a quarter million dollars from an anonymous angel investor.” ​His role in the current transaction was to “[bring] in strategic angel investors with the objective of expanding the product offering and geographic reach of the brand's customer base."

The company’s angel investor who wishes to remain anonymous, put $250,000 into the GUNAS seed round. And now the vegan handbag maker will use those funds expressly “to introduce uniquely designed and 100% plant-based artisanal beauty bars, starting with pure olive oil soap in floral fragrances and volcanic ash,” ​as the release describes it.

And the angel has promised to do more than just fund GUNAS’s next venture, this person will, according to this week’s media release, “provide GUNAS with trademarking help, digital marketing and expanding sales in Asia, as well as placing the brand's fashion and beauty products with Asian celebrities.”



Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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