Interview: Sonali Kuruvilla & Preneetha Balachander, co-founder of Sommer Beauty

Sonali Kuruvilla-Preneetha Balachander

An interview with Sonali Kuruvilla & Preneetha Balachander, co-founder of Sommer Beauty, Well-crafted make-up products with an effective formula, clean ingredients

In the dynamic landscape of the beauty industry, innovation and integrity stand as pillars of distinction. One such embodiment of this ethos is Sommer Beauty, a brand synonymous with well-crafted makeup products boasting effective formulas and clean ingredients.

At the helm of this visionary venture are Sonali Kuruvilla and Preneetha Balachander, the co-founders whose passion for beauty and commitment to quality have steered Sommer Beauty towards unparalleled success.

Their journey embodies a fusion of creativity, expertise, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Today, we have the privilege of delving into the minds of these trailblazers, gaining insights into their inspirations, challenges, and the remarkable journey that has shaped Sommer Beauty into a beacon of innovation in the cosmetics industry.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting Sommer Beauty and what sets it apart in the makeup industry? Sommer Beauty emphasises clean ingredients and effective formulas. Could you elaborate on how you ensure the quality and safety of your products while maintaining efficacy?

Sonali Kuruvilla: Having been interested in makeup for a really long time, I had been thinking that you need so many products, so many steps and specific techniques to look put together and over time I realised that it is really not true.

I wanted to bring to life a brand that puts forth products that are simple and easy-to-use without compromising on the efficacy. It must work for a newbie as well as a makeup enthusiast, like me. That has always been the central idea!

Preneetha Balachander: Our first product, Huesicle, is truly like no other in the market. It is differentiated in the kind of formula, in packaging and the kind of finish it leaves behind. It is specifically formulated to work for the lips, cheeks and eyes, which not a lot of brands are doing.

Huesicle does it all and does it well! We work with a certified manufacturing partner and throughout the manufacturing process, strict quality control measures are followed. We are very transparent with our product and ingredient information.

The brand focuses on offering flattering hues and thoughtful design. How do you approach the process of selecting colors and designing packaging to create a cohesive and appealing product line?

Sonali Kuruvilla: Finding an everyday shade for a dusky person like me has always been a challenge, so we knew the shade range we were creating had to work for a diverse range of skin tones. Given that it is a multitasking product, the shades had to work and look equally good on all three areas (lip, cheek and eye).

So we set out to test the shades on a wide range of skin tones to come up with a curated edit of signature shades meant to flatter Indian skin tones and those that can be worn on the daily. In terms of packaging we knew we had to do something different but also something that people will be proud to keep on their vanity, our brand is inspired by the season of summer and the elements that remind you of a good summertime!

Preneetha Balachander: Branding has been a pivotal part of our journey since day 1. We have been very particular about what to call things, how it should look and how everything ties in together. It had to be unique, it had to catch the eye and it had to be simple.

Could you discuss the importance of sustainability in your brand’s ethos and how it influences your product development and manufacturing processes?

Preneetha Balachander: We understand the environmental impact that our products can have and we have been very mindful in this aspect by making sure that all our containers are fully recyclable once the product is over. We ensure all our partners engage in fair trade practices. Our products are also vegan and cruelty-free. We are thinking of far more ways to engage with sustainability as a practice.

What challenges did you face while establishing Sommer Beauty, and how did you overcome them?

Sonali Kuruvilla: Setting up a new business offering a new product has been very challenging. Every step of the way has been a new learning and will continue to be as we grow in this space. We are continually ensuring that the product quality meets its claims.

Building trust and loyalty is a huge factor with any beauty product and that is something we are working on for the long run by staying true to who we are as a brand and putting out products that are both effective and safe-to-use.

Preneetha Balachander: Being taken seriously despite our lack of experience has been a big challenge. We have been very particular about the user experience in terms of look and feel, as well as efficacy of the product.

While it was challenging to meet our own standards in terms of both formulation and design, we are thrilled to have created a product that we are proud of.

How do you stay updated on industry trends and consumer preferences to continually innovate and adapt your product offerings?

Sonali Kuruvilla: More than staying updated with trends that will come and go at different points in time, it’s important for us to stay relevant irrespective of the season and be versatile in that sense. At the same time, we have our eyes and ears open for cues that’ll help us in identifying gaps and fulfilling them with products that will serve as a true value addition.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to venture into the beauty industry, particularly those aiming to prioritise clean ingredients and sustainability?

Sonali Kuruvilla: We are very new to this space ourselves and we are trying to navigate a rather overwhelming space but having said that, I think it’s important to be clear about the kind of brand you want to build, the story you want to tell and of course put out products that are effective and of good quality.

Clean beauty to us is the norm, it’s something every brand needs to look into to ensure their products are safe to use across different skin types.

Preneetha Balachander: Not all clean beauty claims are met because there is unfortunately no standardisation when it comes to this. So testing and research will go a long way with new brands/products in the market.

What is your success tips for women entrepreneurs

Sonali Kuruvilla: Every new milestone will bring its own challenges. Patience is important in the post-launch period. Highs will fade, but keeping your vision focused on the long-term will help you scale and sustain the brand by taking small, necessary steps as well as big, risky leaps.

In the ever-evolving realm of beauty, Sommer Beauty stands as a testament to the transformative power of dedication and innovation. Sonali Kuruvilla and Preneetha Balachander’s unwavering commitment to crafting makeup products of the highest caliber, enriched with clean ingredients, has not only redefined industry standards but has also resonated deeply with consumers worldwide.

As we conclude our conversation with these visionary leaders, it becomes abundantly clear that their journey is not just about creating cosmetics; it’s about empowering individuals, celebrating diversity, and fostering a community built on authenticity and inclusivity.

With Sonali and Preneetha at the helm, Sommer Beauty’s future shines bright with endless possibilities, promising to continue inspiring and revolutionizing the world of beauty for years to come.

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