Indie Beauty Profile
Rajiv Chandra, Mum & You
Mum & You is a multi-category brand, with skin care and bath products for babies as well as diapers and wipes, and also skin care for new and expecting mothers. The brand has no intention of fitting neatly into the marketplace and becoming a look-alike to other mom and baby brands. To maintain brand and product originality, Chandra turns to the women who work for Mum & You and to the parents who use the brand, reading product reviews and iterating to improve existing products and develop new ones. Here, Rajiv Chandra shares a profile of himself and the brand.
Name: Rajiv Chandra, CEO
Indie Beauty Company: Mum & You
Headquarters: London, United Kingdom
Cash flow: Mum & You has been funded by friends, family, and business associates. No funds have been received from any VC/PE. At the same time, we haven’t raised through crowd funding or any incubator. Though we would be quite open to raising through crowd funding should the need arise.
There are two things that we are proud of financially at Mum & You. The first is that whenever we have needed to raise funds, our friends, families, and business associates have trusted us by offering us their hard-earned money. We have raised significant sums through this process without ever having to go to professional investors. This has given the company the freedom to grow without compromising its vision and its ethos of supporting moms.
The second is that in a very short period of time we have managed to grow quickly, launch products, and expand geographically while driving an improvement in the margins and the overall P&L. This balance over the last few years has been a huge achievement.
Indie how? An indie beauty brand in my mind is one that is free of any connections to corporate organisations or restrictions. It is one that starts from an independent point of view, develops products based on how it sees the world and provides consumers with products which could become future trends. In our case we wanted to produce skin care products for pregnant moms and moms who have just had kids, with a view to provide them solutions that are natural and effective. All of our packaging is fully recyclable.
Teamwork: We have 18 employees, of which 13 are full-time.
Distribution: We are an online company and mainly sell through our D2C website, MumAndYou.com. In addition, we sell on Amazon both in the US and in Europe.
Years in beauty: I have worked in the Personal Care industry for over 20 years, of which the last 4 years has been with my start up Mum & You.
Entrepreneurial experience: This is my first entrepreneurial venture. It was launched after working for several decades in leading CPG companies.
Moving from the corporate world to an entrepreneur’s life has been very interesting and truly exhilarating. It is amazing to see how every decision you take has an almost immediate impact. The turnaround time to achieve anything decreases significantly compared to large companies; and if you have the courage to take action rather than discussing things at length in a boardroom, then entrepreneurship is for you. If you love to experiment, try new approaches, and are unafraid of getting things wrong (occasionally!), then entrepreneurship is a must-try in one’s career.
But I do not recommend it for the faint of heart. Things do go wrong and when they do there is very little financial support or cushion - unlike what is available in large companies. The ultimate pleasure in entrepreneurship is seeing your creation, which started as an idea on a blank piece of paper, come to life and then thrive. This feeling cannot be compared to any other achievement I have ever had.
The business: Our vision right from the start was ‘a world where children grow up healthy, grow up strong, and grow to meet their full potential.’ We believed that the one who influenced that the most was the mom.
I created Mum & You to support children by supporting moms and parents. The idea was that we wanted to support the early development of the child. The early years (way before going to school) is when the child’s brain develops the fastest and we realized that even today the parent (in most cases) who spends most time with the children in the early years is the mom.
So, we created a company that supported moms. Most people at Mum & You (I am an exception) are moms. All of our products are developed by moms on our team. All our moms have ever tried to do is to create products and services that make the lives of parents a little bit easier without compromise.
The wow-factor: We make products for moms and children which are based on insights driven by our team of moms who use their own experiences to design and develop our products. Our products are focused on ‘no compromise’ which we define as: no compromise on performance, no compromise on sustainability, and products that make the lives of moms and dads a little bit easier.
The customer: Our target consumer uniquely is our target employee. Moms of young children who are ‘no compromise’ people.
Milestone moment: We do not read brand awareness as we think it’s largely a vanity metric. Not that it isn’t important, it’s just that there are so many other factors that tell you as a new brand whether you are on the right track or not. The key metric we follow is trial and repeat. However, there have been a few times I have been amazed at our brand awareness.
I will relate some of the interesting indirect feedback we have received. When we first posted for a role over a year back on LinkedIn we received only 5 applications. We posted on the same platform this year for a similar role and we received over 250 applications!
Another interesting thing is that we have started to hear back about our brand from various people and some who you least expect to hear from. For instance, there was a professional investor that we were in discussions with. He had dinner with some friends who had subscribed to our diapers and wipes and we came up in the dinner conversation as an incredible brand!
We also read and learn from each and every review that a customer writes for us. Depending on the platform, there are thousands of our customers leaving these reviews. The good ones give us encouragement, but it is the poor reviews that egg our moms on to creating even better products and [to keep] improving!
Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: Can I share two pieces of advice here? The first is truly believe in an insight. Ask yourself why you will make a difference in the lives of people. If you don’t have that answer, it is unlikely you will create a product/brand that sustains.
The second is - forget conventions. I can see how following conventions is making products and formulations start to look so similar to each other.
Just one: Asked about his go-to product, Chandra proposes instead to…share my wife’s go-to product! It is our 60-second face mask called Just a Minute, recently launched by Mum & You for time-deprived moms!