First Stage Investor

Portfolio Update: Aavrani Has a New Look

Portfolio Update: Aavrani Has a New Look
By Andy Gordon
Date August 17, 2020

Aavrani keeps rolling on. I recommended the skincare company last October. Since then, the company has increased sales, added a couple of key hires and brought on hundreds of new influencers. And, to top things off, Aavrani recently finished a complete rebranding — from website to logos, labels and packaging. 

Aavrani is continuing the trend of First Stage Investor companies doing surprisingly well during these difficult times. 

But for Aavrani — more than most others — it makes sense. The company was focusing on  D2C sales pre-COVID. That strategy has served them well these past few months. Sales haven’t skipped a beat, thanks to a pandemic-driven surge of online shopping. “It’s been a winning time for D2C brands like ours,” cofounder Justin Silver told me. 

If that sounds even slightly complacent, don’t be fooled. Aavrani was doing well even before the pandemic hit. Justin and his fellow cofounder Rooshy Roy could have rested on their laurels and rode the wave of increasing online shopping. But the best founders are never satisfied — it’s what I love about them! Instead, Justin and Rooshy chose to shake things up. 

Their biggest change? Remaking Aavrani’s brand to better reflect their roots in Indian history and heritage. 

Instead of the previous pink and green, the new packaging has vivid blues and bright oranges — iconic colors in India. The descriptor “Indian Inspired Skincare” is front and center on boxes. 

It’s unapologetically Indian.  But that begs the question, what about cross-over sales to the non-Indian population? 

Cofounder Rooshy said the old way wasn’t working. “I got so wishy washy about who I was and what the brand stood for,” she said. “It was being neither here nor there and being nothing to no one.” The message: Aavrani needed to prioritize its core customer base. If it couldn’t win them over, how could it expect the rest of the population to follow?

While the packaging has changed, the products are the same. And customers love them. Fewer than 2% of purchasers return products. The industry standard is 8% to 10%. In the next month or two, Aavrani will introduce a new sandalwood oil cleaner to its product mix. And it’s considering several other products for future release, in categories like body care and haircare. 

That’s not the only change the company has made. It’s also drastically cut back on its Facebook ads. The ads were too expensive. And they were only breaking even. 

To reduce marketing spend, the company has begun partnering with influencers. These are women who have 10,000 to 25,000 followers on social media accounts. No upfront payment is required to sign them up. They work on a 10% commission basis. And it’s working. The company expects to generate more than $1 million in sales this year. Aavrani still isn’t profitable. But it’s getting very close to break-even. It’s lowered its losses to 3.5 cents for every dollar it makes. 

Aavrani is also expanding its customer base through a number of new partnerships. It has lined up events with WeWork, Mount Lai, Yondu, Zulily and Gilt Groupe. And it has several more collaborations in the pipeline for 2020.

The pandemic has disrupted the operations of scores of companies. It has forced many companies to slow down or put new initiatives on hold. But Aavrani is forging full speed ahead. The company is delivering orders. Its supply chain is in good shape after overcoming some minor disruptions early in the pandmeic. And its third-party logistics company has remained fully operational for shipping and fulfillment. 

Aavrani strongly believes that it will come out of the pandemic stronger than ever. And it’s doing everything to make sure it does exactly that.

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