Freewill carving a niche with customized hair care solutions
Jul 13, 2020
The customized beauty category is witnessing a meteoric rise in India, as customers look to tailored solutions for their hair and skin care needs, compared to generic products sold by FMCG firms in the market. Freewill, India’s first personalised beauty start-up, is looking to cash in on this change in the beauty and personal care space.
Since its launch in 2018, Freewill has shipped over 2,50,000 products and claims to have received an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 for all its products. Freewill has already managed to raise $2 million (Rs 14 crore) funding from Sequoia’s last year and plans to enter new segments later this year.
Freewill co-founders, Mohit Yadav (CEO) and Rahul Yadav, in an exclusive interview with FashionNetwork.com talk about their journey, the impact of Covid-19, and expansion plans.
FashionNetwork.com: There are a host of haircare and skincare brands with generic formulations catering to the mass market. What is the USP of Freewill and how is it different from the other brands in the market?
Mohit Yadav: Most beauty companies aren’t selling products tailored to individual consumers. Instead, they’re selling a brand, a luxury, a lifestyle or some product that will magically work on every skin or hair type and solve every skin or hair problem.
The fact is, we are all unique and that’s why certain products don’t work for certain people. We’ve different skin or hair types, have different goals for what we want to achieve and also live in different environmental conditions. Freewill makes unique products just for you. That is our USP. It’s the customers' way or highway. We take pride in calling ourselves one of the rare companies that listen to customers and offer what they want.
FNW: How has the response been so far to Freewill in the Indian market? What factors have contributed to the growth of the brand?
Rahul Yadav: Indeed, we have got an overwhelming response from the market. So far, we have shipped over 2,50,000 products only from our website and our average rating for the customised hair care kit is 4.6 out of 5. That proves that the product and concept is working for people.
The biggest factor for growth so far is that even though the beauty industry is one of the most cluttered categories, it does not provide tailored solutions to individuals according to their needs. To sum up: a lack of custom solutions, awareness about clean beauty products and ingredients and willingness to try new products are the major factors for our growth.
FNW: What has been the sales impact of Covid-19 on Freewill? How is Freewill dealing with the situation when there is so much uncertainty regarding the pandemic and what measures are you taking to boost sales?
MY: Honestly, there is not much impact on business due to Covid-19 except for the one month when the country was in total lockdown. But as soon as restrictions were lifted we were back on track with all the safety measures in place to ensure full safety of our employees and customers. We are following social distancing, doing regular health monitoring of all our workers & adhering to best hygiene practices. Even bottles and the packaging boxes are fully sanitized before final packaging.
We witnessed a significant improvement in the revenue numbers as a large number of customers today are buying online instead of buying from the retail store.
FNW: How important is the use of technology for a customised brand like Freewill to provide accurate product suggestions to customers. Also, with more people embracing technology in the wake of Covid-19, what innovations is Freewill undertaking to widen your customer base?
RY: Technology and innovation is the heart of our Brand. From accessing and analysing your hair to preparing the right formulation is based on technology and scientific research. We are also looking for ways to get more information about your current hair health, texture and scalp condition via advanced image processing and other cutting edge technologies. Also, we are using AI-based algorithm to continuously improve our formulation based on feedback. Especially with Covid-19, it is important to explore more online ways of reaching out to customers than exploring offline channels.
FNW: What is the expansion plan for the brand? Are you planning to expand your product portfolio to cater to a wider audience? Also, will you stick to customization, or will we see Freewill launch generic cosmetic products in the future?
MY: Yes. We will expand our portfolio to solve more beauty challenges with technology and science. Customization is one key aspect of our brand and will always remain the soul of the company. We are working on a few more product categories beyond just hair.
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