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Life rarely goes as you expect. Yale University graduate Adwaita Nayyar never thought of becoming an entrepreneur, much less she the co-founder of e-commerce unicorn D2C Nykaa and the CEO of Nykaa Fashion. Today you are one of the most important Indian entrepreneurs.
“Having seen my parents working as professionals all their lives, I thought I would go down the same path. But around the time I was graduating, Mom started saying that she wanted to be an entrepreneur after a long career as a bank. business,” Nayar says. In 2012, her mother, Falguni Nayyar, former CEO of Kotak Mahindra Group, founded Nykaa.
Excited by this new and interesting perspective, Nayyar eventually joined her mother’s company. “It wasn’t the most thoughtful decision at the time I took the leap, but later it definitely turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, forever changing the trajectory of my life, both personally and professionally,” explains.
About three years ago, having established themselves in the beauty industry, the Nayyar family started thinking about their next goal in terms of creating a new vertical for Nykaa. “Naturally, we focused on fashion because there’s an overlap between beauty and fashion. The latter is also quite an addressable market,” says Nayyar.
According to her, Nykaa Fashion’s thesis is that the Indian woman is driven by fashion, style and trends. Being quite a bullish company on the omnichannel route, Nykaa looks forward to opening more and more physical stores over time. “We already have more than 100 beauty stores, and in fashion, we will definitely have a physical store soon. I want to launch a couple first and then expand from there,” added Nayyar.
He believes that the real problem to be solved in fashion today is not that of variety but of the specificity of the options. How to show the right product to the right consumer? Technology is key, replies Nayyar. “We use technology for personalization by gathering as much information about you as possible from everything you click on. By creating the right recommendation widgets and search options, we’re creating the experience you really want,” he notes.
While the most reputable national brands can be found on Nykaa’s website, the company has also created a category called ‘Hidden Gems’ to offer the work of local Indian designers online. Additionally, through exclusive partnerships, the team is also bringing top international retailers, such as Revolve, to India and plans to launch a number of sustainability-led brands in the future.
In the midst of a growing global economic crisis, the “profitability vs growth” debate has a special value today for all companies, including Nykaa. “My personal philosophy is that you need to have a path to profitability and every quarter you need to make sure your business is preparing to achieve that goal. New businesses need the right investment and it doesn’t have to be profitable from day one; me is not growth at all costs, but growth in line with a well thought-out path to profitability,” explains Nayyar.
Given that all four family members, including Nayyar’s father and brother, are involved in Nykaa’s business in executive or non-executive capacities, a blurred line separates the family from the firm. “We’ve learned to set boundaries through much trial and error and years of constructive discussion. Business dominates most dinner conversations; we joke that he’s the third child in the family!” he admits laughing.
“If there is mutual love, respect and friendship between family members underpinning their professional equations for each other, then all matters can be resolved,” she reveals in a more profound note.
Fittingly, her favorite quote is from the work of Maya Angelou: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did; they’ll remember how you made them feel.” While guiding Nykaa, Nayyar helps Indian women feel good in their skin and clothes. I hope they will remember how she made them feel!