Colour Me Natural
For Tanisha Varalwar, beauty products became a passion during her growing-up years. Today, at 24, she has fulfilled her dream of introducing a home-grown, toxin- and cruelty-free make-up range, with a tightly curated selection of lipsticks, to conscious Indian consumers not unlike herself.
The newly minted Tsara Cosmetics relies on innovation, which is also the cornerstone of her belief system. The Hyderabad-based chemical engineer has built an independent career path for herself, fuelled by the desire to make a difference and the potential of working with natural ingredients; she updates traditional Indian formulations, which she believes are essential to build a relevant and responsible brand. Following a period of intense research and a host of product trials, Tanisha, the daughter of a first-generation businessman father and mother who is a doctor, took the plunge last month and unveiled her brand, with the hope of leaving an indelible footprint in the beauty industry.
Excerpts from the conversation….
A chemical engineer by education and now a beauty entrepreneur — what inspired this transition?
I used to notice and admire how my mother, Sujatha Varalwar (54), a doctor and singer, always carried herself with grace and dignity. I would love to go to her dresser to try out all the stuff she had bought. I have always been a make-up junkie, and I was majorly drawn to lipsticks. I wouldn’t be half the enthusiast I am today if it was not for my mother’s sense of style.
My stay in Dubai, a major market for beauty brands, amplified my passion. I was exposed to many global brands and product alternatives that excited me. As a young consumer, I was motivated by the passion that Dubaians have for beauty products and also how the brands market themselves there. All this made me want to return to India to introduce the experience of quality products with clean ingredients. I noticed that silicones, which are synthetic, are being used largely in almost every beauty product. This is because they provide the product with a smooth texture and a long-lasting effect. But there is a larger environmental impact involved. Having studied chemical engineering, I understood the compositions of these products and how toxic most of them could be. Hence, I was driven to build a beauty line with a toxin-free focus.
In what way has nature been your muse?
During my college days, when I was interning at my aunt’s natural extracts factory, I learnt a lot about how fruit and plant extracts and various waxes, oils and butters were obtained from their sources and used in various products. This experience has been one of the driving factors in shaping my vision.
What are the elements that make your brand sustainable?
Our research into every kind of lipstick threw up the fact that most were quite drying due to certain ingredients. So, our aim since day one has been to create super-nourishing and highly pigmented lipsticks, in shades that suit most Indian skin tones. We only use pigments and chemistry from natural and organic sources. For example, our lip shades are made up of a mix of waxes and oils such as sunflower oil, jojoba oil, soybean oil and more.
We also ensure that our packaging uses sustainable material — be it reused paper or recyclable plastic — and we are continuing the research to incorporate biodegradable materials as well.
Tell us about your tag line: “Between nature and glamour”.
I want to use my company as a platform to create awareness about using natural ingredients. I also want to change the idea that using organic or natural products means that you are compromising on the glam factor! Let’s break some myths!
Do you favour any particular ingredients or avoid others?
Most of the ingredients we use have been certified by Ecocert, one of the largest international organic certification organisations. We make sure that we do not formulate our products with silicones — our aim is to keep our formulations as pure as possible. We have sourced ingredients from all over the world; some of them are being used for the first time in India. We came across a special blend of natural oils and waxes that essentially gives our products the waterproofing and velvety texture which are otherwise not achievable without adding synthetic ingredients.
What kind of preparation went into the creation of the brand?
I was 21 years old when I decided I wanted to start a beauty line. And that is when I embarked on my research. Whether it was questioning people on their likes and dislikes or trying out various products in the market, my research and experience taught me a lot. On the technical side, I was lucky to be able to put together a team that understood my vision. We spent endless days trying to procure high-quality ingredients and had over 100 trials in search of the perfect textures and blends.
Tell us about your role models.
One of my biggest role models is Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty; I followed her brand closely while I was in Dubai, and I saw her grow from being just another blogger to the make-up authority that she is today. What I found the most inspiring was how, as a beauty entrepreneur, she was able to build an online community that truly believed in the brand’s vision. This is essentially what I am aiming at creating with Tsara.
What made you go ahead with the decision to launch the brand despite the ongoing situation with the pandemic?
After various trials and technical failures, we were finally ready to launch in February. Later, I did not lose hope as I’d noticed that people are online now more than ever before. So, I looked upon this situation as an opportunity. And since the launch, I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback — about the products’ texture, the long-lasting effect on the lips or the shades.
Before you launched Tsara, which were your go-to brands?
I experimented with a wide range of global and Indian beauty brands and loads of home-made recipes. I experimented with various products from RMS Beauty and Axiology, which have the same brand values as Tsara. And I imbibed a lot of beauty recipes from my mother, who used to make me apply fruit pulp on my face and created blends from various oils and home-made flour.
Which, according to you, is the standout shade of your range?
If I had to choose one, it would be On The Mauve, not only because it was difficult to formulate with natural ingredients but also because I wanted a true mauve that suited all skin tones.
Where do you see your brand growing from here?
In terms of product archetypes, my vision is to develop products that are easy to use, non-fussy and give a natural look. The philosophy behind these will, of course, be to make them as clean and green as possible. Sustainability is at the core of the business. I also envision that my Indian brand will have a global footprint.