DUBAI: When Anisha Oberoi was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer ten years ago, it prompted her to reevaluate everything in her life. She received treatment, kept a great job at Amazon, and moved to Dubai. But that did not meet his ambition.
“I was subjected to hormone treatments after surgery and started to feel quite hopeless that I couldn’t find clean, toxin-free alternatives to beauty products widely available to consumers,” Oberoi said. founder and CEO of Secret Skin.
“The more I learned about hormone disruptors and carcinogens in conventional, mass-produced personal care, the more I realized how important it was to do something about it when I was ready, creating a brand founded about confidence in the space of beauty and well-being.”
This motivated her to create a beauty e-commerce startup called Secret Skin. The award-winning startup was dedicated to sustainable products that respect the body and the earth.
For Oberoi, Secret Skin has become a personal story in many ways.
Secret Skin launched online in October 2020 as a discovery platform that connects conscious consumers with conscious beauty brands around the world, but is built differently from a traditional beauty business model.
It is based on a triple bottom line framework that focuses on social and environmental impact – not just profit.
Within six months of its launch, Secret Skin won the Women in Tech 2021 Global Pitch competition organized by the Sharjah Research Technology & Innovation Park.
Not just on edge
The e-commerce startup saw 66% monthly growth in its customer base, with an average shopping cart of 2.2 items per order. A startling 40% of customers were repeat users with no cancellations or returns in six months of operation.
The plastic recycling program incentivized customers to adopt eco-friendly behavior, resulting in 60% user conversion on first interaction (within two days).
“The market for clean or conscious beauty is not saturated, but nascent here in the Middle East, while it has passed its peak in other markets like the US and UK where the movement has started much earlier,” Oberoi explained.
“We are the fastest growing own-brand platform with five new brands and categories added every month to meet consumer needs. As an agile startup, we are able to make quick decisions to pivot when the value proposition needs improvement,” she explained.
Typically, the act of buying a clean beauty product was laborious, expensive, and time-consuming.
Typically, a customer would have to wait three weeks to receive a product ordered outside the UAE, paying between 55-80% overage in shipping and customs charges. There was no local customer service and the experience was badly affected.
“I had to engage with brand founders on Instagram and LinkedIn, doing zoom calls during the pandemic to convince them to be part of our mission, when I didn’t even have a site to show them,” said admitted Oberoi.
“We launched with same-day delivery, locally fulfilled with legally registered brands from around the world at competitive prices to build customer confidence,” she added.
Secret Skin has now been operational for 17 months since its launch in October 2020. The startup has seen early gains in terms of customer acquisition and penetration for brands brought to market.
The company’s repeat purchase rate averages 48%, with sales growing 28% quarter over quarter. Customers spend an average of $126 on orders, which is comparable to the region’s most popular and established beauty e-commerce platforms, according to Oberoi.
“We see this as a sign that customer behavior is shifting towards a demand for more sustainable brands with organic or natural ingredients,” Anisha said.
Oberoi has now started looking beyond the borders of the United Arab Emirates to sell its products and it has finally done so.
In 2021, Secret Skin began shipping to Oman and Kuwait, and this year will begin shipping to Saudi Arabia, including expanding physical distribution for their exclusive brands.
“Southeast Asia is on the roadmap for 2023, as well as a private label that we are currently working on,” Oberoi said.
“I am very excited about our AI-enabled application and other technology interfaces that will enhance our customer value proposition. Capturing, analyzing and predicting user preferences through AI with trained experts in efficiency, performance and personalized recommendations is the future, and we are preparing for it,” she said.
Its dedication to sustainability resonates with conscious customers in the Middle East. The beauty industry generates up to 120 billion units of plastic worldwide per year, contributing to the loss of 18 million acres of forest per year – which is just one of the problems it faces. is faced (others being carbon production, water waste and energy consumption).
“We must increase visibility and diversity in the beauty community and address the critical issues that can affect climate change, water scarcity, species extinction and deforestation if we have any hope of protecting our natural resources for future generations,” Oberoi said.
“On Secret Skin, with just one click, the customer can support sustainable small businesses, provide micro-savings to
indigenous tribes who harvest the ingredients in their products from the wild and reduce their carbon footprint.
In beauty and personal care, sustainability means recyclable packaging, reduced use of single-use plastics, consciously selected ingredients, safe-to-use components, and space-saving production from start to finish. For example, companies are redesigning products to include less water in their composition and reducing synthetic ingredients to address specific issues, but these are small steps.
“We need scalable solutions that can be applied to larger global models,” Oberoi said. “We now stand on the precipice between catastrophe and conscience as we fight the pandemic, and are accountable for how we conserve and protect the environment in which we live.”