Business management

Delhicious Body on the beauty of starting a business

Zara and Zak of Delhicious Body talk about self-belief and stepping out of your comfort zone.

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Cooking up a leading beauty brand with purpose at its core

Zara Saleem and Zak Ismail founded Delhicious Body in 2018, a natural, cruelty-free beauty brand proudly rooted in Zara’s Indian heritage.

The idea for the business first came up when Zara was pregnant with their first child. “When I was pregnant, I developed a dry skin problem – kind of like an eczema related to pregnancy. And the doctors would just prescribe steroids. But I didn't want to use anything that wasn’t natural,” Zara says.

Zara says they were inspired by her Delhi-born grandmother’s remedies (which lent itself to the company’s playful name, Delhicious), and a driving force behind their passion to start a distinctly Indian brand in an industry where South Asian-owned businesses are underrepresented.

The company has since diversified and scaled up its operations beyond its humble beginnings in Zara and Zak’s kitchen. They’ve expanded into a variety of skincare, haircare, and wellness products – leveraging their wildly successful social media presence to generate orders and test demand for new ideas or remedies. And they have their sights set on international expansion in the years to come.

Zara and Zak’s Business Confession: “Agreeing, in our first year, to produce 100,000 products without a factory or official production line.”

Zara and Zak talk about how early in their business journey, they were presented with an opportunity to quickly expand their distribution by getting their black tea scrub included in a well-known beauty box subscription service.

“We took an order for 100,000 units… Bear in mind we are still operating from our home making 100 products at a time,” Zara says. “We didn't realise what we’d signed up for until we actually started to plan and figure out how we’re going to do this.”

They had to learn very quickly to scale from their kitchen pot to making thousands of units at a time, a trial-by-fire in everything from operations, inventory, and supply chain management to logistics, forecasting, marketing, and PR.

“It’s unbelievable how much we learned in the first couple of years of running this business because we did everything ourselves… we’re a lot more prepared now.”

Top tips for growing your business

• Be authentic in all that you do: “Especially on social media… Because when you create something that is real, people connect with it.”

• Know your purpose, know your market: “Differentiate your product and your brand, what makes you unique, and what really makes that shine through – because you need to stand out.”

• Keep your supply chain in lockstep with growth: “Even simple things like having an app which takes people’s emails when something is back in stock.”

• Treat your suppliers like partners: “They are helping you get your brand out there and get other people believing in what you’re doing.”

• Believe in what you are doing: “Starting a business is so consuming, but if you enjoy it and you live and breathe it, you can ride that wave.”

Watch the episode to find out more about Delhicious Body’s inspirational business journey.

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