Ever wondered the secret to great hair? Bengaluru-based brand Secret Hair Care is here to share it with you.
Co-founded by college mates Ashith Sashidhar and Divyashree J in 2018, Secret Hair Care was the answer to the demand for cleaner hair care products by the discerning generation of today.
“When we shared a bottle of Ashith’s mother’s homemade hair oil with our friends from college, they just loved it! That’s when we knew we had something to fill the lacunae in the market. We all witnessed results within a matter of weeks – reduced hair fall and non-frizzy strands. That’s when we envisioned our product and brand. Now, we are working towards creating a legacy of our own,” explain the founders in a candid chat with YS Weekender.
Both Divya and Ashith are trained software engineers who discovered their passion for entrepreneurship during their final year as engineering students. Divyashree worked at IBM for a short while before making the full-time switch to Secret Hair Care.
“When we were in college, our friends wanted clean hair care products to use. A quick search of products available in the market revealed that a number of products that called themselves organic, pure, unadulterated, and natural used inorganic chemical-based preservatives, which undermined their claims,” Ashith shares.
This led to them to launch their brand with the vision of becoming a leader in the natural and organic self-care beauty industry. For this, they work exclusively with organic produce to assemble their products.
“Our raw materials are sourced from the wild as well as from farms. We work with farmers based in Kerala, who grow chemical-free organic produce. For some ingredients, we also work with farmers from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, particularly when yield is low,” Divyashree explains.
Proudly calling themselves a family-run business, Ashith handed over the manufacturing reins to his mother Seena who brings her rich traditional knowledge on board. Emphasis is laid on employing women, which they achieve by keeping their educational requirements low – one only needs to have passed their Class 10 or 12 board examinations and have a basic knowledge of the English language. The focus is entirely on hiring local talent and upskilling them with technical knowledge.
“In the years to come, we hope to become a predominantly women-run business,” Divyashree says.
With recipes consisting of natural ingredients and processes that have been passed on generationally through their family, the founders believe they are dishing out their family’s ‘secrets’, which also made for an apt brand name – Secret Hair Care.
The growth story
According to mordorintelligence.com, the Indian hair care market is expected to reach $4.89 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 6.58 percent. This phenomenal growth can be attributed to changing consumer dynamics and increasing product awareness.
Secret Hair Care began with 20 samples of their tester product, using locally sourced ingredients. Hence, the initial investment in the business was a mere Rs 5,000. However, they have seen steady growth since they first launched. They sell around 3,500-4,000 chemical-free Ayurvedic products monthly, and clocked Rs 5 crore turnover for the year 2020-2021 – about 203 percent growth from the previous year which was Rs 1.65 crore. No funding has been raised to date.
Divyashree explains the reason for their success.
“The market is currently filled with chemically modified hair products that have adverse side effects with long-term usage. Our focus is to create products that promise a pure, chemical-free, handmade, natural process, and are suited for an international market.
“Secret Hair Care prides itself on being a deeply passionate small business driven by its mission of creating nature-based products that customers can trust to give results without harmful side effects.”
Secret Hair Care uses raw materials sourced from the wild as well as from farms, and current offers a range of eight products.
Currently retailing exclusively on their website, thesecrethaircare.com, they plan to expand to well-known ecommerce platforms soon.
When asked about competitors in the industry, Ashith shares that though there are other organic cosmetic brands on the market, such as Forest Essentials and Kama Ayurveda, Secret Hair Care has a unique approach to solving customer problems. They seek to translate the nostalgic emotions, care, and quality of Indian traditional hair care into a product that is easy to use in a modern context.
Divyashree points out that the older generation understands the value of traditional hair care, while the younger generation does not have access to knowledge on organic, natural hair care based on Indian recipes, aimed specifically at their genetic make-up. This is why their formulations are distinctive from anything else on the market.
“We invite hair care experts to actively engage on our Instagram page. They address the hair concerns of people with diverse hair types, medical issues, and daily hair struggles. I am proud to say that almost no DMs go unanswered,” Ashith says.
A social media and performance marketing team, along with referrals from satisfied customers, are their primary modes of attracting customers. They have managed to collect a dedicated international clientele as well.
The team currently offers a range of eight products, including three hair oils, three shampoos, a hair mask, and a pair of combs made with neem wood.
“Our most loved product is definitely our Black Charm Hair Oil. Users are overjoyed with its results, as it controls hair fall, increases hair length, and helps with the recovery of damaged hair. Most of them see results within three to four weeks. Some of our reviews include the words ‘magic’, ‘love’ and ‘thank you’, and we are exhilarated that we are able to deliver on our promise!” Divyashree says.
Their bestseller oil is also recommended for post-COVID hair loss. Its natural ingredients like aloe vera, amla, curry leaves, coconut oil, and others work to reduce hair loss, control dryness and dandruff, strengthen hair roots, add volume, and revitalise the hair.
Secret Hair Care’s bestselling product is the Black Charm hair oil, which is based on a family recipe handed down generations.
Their Black Charm and Blue Lilly hair oils are their most popular and hence most highly priced products as well – selling at Rs 1,049 for 200ml and Rs 2629 for 500ml. Another exclusive product is their Grey Care oil that addresses premature greying of hair. It comes in two variants, costing Rs 730 for 100ml and Rs 1,437 for 200ml.
Apart from these, they offer a nourishing hair mask called Sattva priced at Rs 589 for 100gms, Hibiscus and Aloe Vera shampoos priced at Rs 2,069 for 500ml, and Neem Wood combs at Rs 499 for a set of two.
Though nothing specific has been launched for the festive season, discounts and offers are available on the website.
“There might be a surprise around Diwali, so watch out!” Ashith says,
Divyashree signs off with, “We would like to expand our presence and tap into the North Indian market and also spread our roots internationally, because no one should be deprived of simple yet effective natural hair care. Hopefully, someday we may come to a store near you. Keep a lookout!”
Edited by Teja Lele Desai