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Interview: Upma Kapoor, Founder, Teal & Terra


Founded in 2017 by Upma Kapoor, Teal & Terra is an organic beauty product startup that is into the supply and manufacturing of cosmetic products made up of using natural ingredients and the age-old principles of Ayurveda. This is a homegrown company that was established with the funding of INR 7.5 lakh and is now worth of INR 2.24 crore. At a tender age of 12, Upma lost her dear parents in a tragic car accident and was raised by her older sister and brother-in-law.

In a short span of time, Teal and Terra has been able to position as a well-recognized brand in the beauty industry. 70% of it's revenue comes from repeat buyers in this highly competitive market.

Upma Kapoor, Founder Teal & Terra
Teal & Terra’s bestselling product has been it's unique Onion and Castor oil. Other products such as the Kumkumadi face oil, and Moroccan Argan oil are also quite popular among customers. Priced between INR 500, to INR 2,690, Teal & Terra’s products primarily cater to hair and skincare segments. Teal & Terra is among the very first Indian brands to use onion oil as an ingredient in its products. The ingredients used in Teal & Terra products are sourced from cities such as Panchkula, Gurugram and Delhi.

The company has its own online retail portal and its products are also available on major eCommerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart. After the positive response to the existing hair and skincare products, Teal & Terra is now working on an upcoming winter care range, and there are plans to launch a baby care range in next couple of years.

The company hires women on a work-from-home model to allow homemakers to have a profession while taking care of their families. It has a team of 18 female employees who take care of marketing, sales, and administrative roles. They are all work-from-home employees who earn anywhere from INR 7,000 to INR 15,000 per month, depending on the number of hours clocked in.

In an exclusive interaction with Startup Terminal; Upma Kapoor, Founder Teal & Terra shares more insights about her venture and future plans.

Excerpts:

ST: When did you start your venture? Please briefly explain more about your venture.

Upma Kapoor: I started Teal and Terra as an organic skincare brand in 2017. Prior research made me realize that in our country, we pay huge amounts for international cosmetic brands while Indian beauty products were no match to these. I determined that if I could find a way to harness the natural benefits of our abundant flora, as in the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, I could offer consumers a line of completely pure, organic and natural products at a much cheaper price with greater benefits. Thus was born Teal and Terra.

ST: What business opportunities do you see particularly in your industry (Organic Beauty product)?

Upma Kapoor: When it comes to beauty products, consumers have been demanding for natural products. Over the years, the Indian market has phenomenally grown with the availability of organic brands to match the consumer’s beauty and skincare routines. According to RedSeer, the Indian organic skincare products market is valued at $125 million, growing at 25 per cent per annum. With the rising demand for chemical-free products, combined with an awareness of their harmful effects, there has been a paradigm shift in consumers purchasing behaviours. They are increasingly seeking for organic beauty products that are value-for-money and both natural and beneficial. This has created further opportunity for businesses, SMEs, and even investors to come up with innovations to enhance the sector, which will not only create more compelling products but also boost the sector overall.

Moreover, as consumers become aware of the new-age cosmetics and the latest trends in personal grooming, the world has to spend money on providing unique products and experiences, which is exactly where the Indian cosmetics industry is headed.


ST: How has been the journey so far?

Upma Kapoor: The journey so far has been extremely challenging yet at the same time also immensely fulfilling. Form a 7.5 lakh company in 2017, in less than 2 years we have become a company worth 2.4 crore. From a small client base and plenty of negative feedback in an online community, today Teal and Terra have amassed a wide base of loyal and appreciative consumers. On the bank of growing popularity and revenue, we are now ready to expand our base of operations to introduce more products

ST: As an entrepreneur, what challenges do you face in your day to day, if any?

Upma Kapoor: As I mentioned before, taking an entrepreneurial plunge was a significant risk for someone like me who had a cushy corporate job for 15 years. The initial days of my journey in establishing Teal and Terra were tough ones. To find seed funding for this venture, I had to rely on my savings and obtain funding from friends and family. Their goodwill and support helped me launch Teal & Terra without having to rely on external investors. There was also the challenge of brand acceptance and stiff competition from the established players in the segment. I faced a lot of negative propaganda in online communities but over time, as consumers began to know of and use my products, word of mouth helped Teal and Terra gain acceptance and recognition. On the personal front too, being a single mother to my son, I had to struggle to balance my personal and professional lives. Now, within a significantly short span of time, all the hard work and perseverance has paid off and Teal & Terra has managed to carve a niche of its own.

ST: How big is your team? Are you planning to hire more?

Upma Kapoor: Currently, the team at Teal and Terra is a small one. My team of 18 female employees take care of marketing, sales, and administrative roles. I have made it a point to give more work opportunities to women in my company and hence, my team is mostly composed of women.

ST: What are your future plans?

Upma Kapoor: In the near future, I intend to take Teal and Terra to greater heights. It is my vision to multiply the revenue of the company further in the next three years and also introduce a wider range of products. We are already taking a step forward to this end without a new line of winter skincare and baby care products. Also, as a socially responsible company, I intend to employ more women in company operations across the board.

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