Founded by Anshita Mehrotra, a young entrepreneur who started it when she was only 19, Fix My Curls is a brand that will help people embrace their natural curls.
Anshita was one of the many individuals advised to straighten and cut off their curls or try a straightening treatment. Like many others, she felt uncomfortable about her natural hair texture, leading to unintentional damage. However, inspired by an online video, she decided to take action, giving rise to Fix My Curls—a homegrown brand offering haircare products such as shampoo, conditioner, accessories, styling products, and more. Before launching her venture, she had aspirations of becoming a journalist. Her keen interest in understanding the world and disseminating information on crucial global topics fueled this ambition. But life had other plans, and entrepreneurship on the cards.
Abhishansa Mathur was in a candid conversation with Anshita Mehrotra about her journey, challenges, and more. Below is the excerpt from the interview.
What inspired you to start Fix My Curls?
My hair! I grew up with curly hair, and no matter what I tried to fix it, nothing would change my hair's genetic nature. What grows from your scalp is what you have for the rest of your life. In our country, hairstylists and hair care brands weren't telling people with curly or wavy hair that their hair texture is natural and cannot be changed. No keratin or smoothing treatment can alter what will grow out of your scalp. This was my experience. While I knew there were others like me, none of us had access to products, a community, or educational content about texture and curly-wavy hair because nobody was talking about it.
When I returned from college in 2019, I chose to take a semester off, and that's when the idea for Fix My Curls came into my head. I was searching for products for my hair and realized there was nothing available. Having tried every possible treatment, I realized that if my hair is curly, I should search for products catering to my hair type. This realization led me to identify a gap in the market. I wanted to create something for people like me because I was just as desperate for information and a sense of belonging and community.
Tell us about your journey!
I think I was passionate about my hair since I was 6-7 years old because people would tell me that I was different. By the time I turned 19, I was in college and had met thousands of new people and everybody would tell me the same thing and would ask why don't I just straighten them?
I knew that there were people who were struggling like me, but I wasn't talking to them which is when I started Fix My Curls after which I found that community, and I realized my passion for this. Being an entrepreneur at such a young age is not complicated and the journey becomes organic when you're passionate about what you're selling.
I needed something that I was passionate about. I wanted to find a solution to this problem because I knew there were others, too. I started with an Instagram page and later launched it on Amazon. And, in the very first month, I think we had 30 orders. It came as a shocker because I hadn't even advertised it yet. I understood that our community is very special and that there is a group of people who care about their hair because they are different. This realization also really drove me. In between all this, Covid-19 also happened. By the time it was over, I was 21 and that's when we properly started because initially even I had questions such as can I make a living out of it and if this was going to be profitable or not.
What have you learned from the community?
The community is very special because this is a group of people who have been ignored for most of their lives and have been told the wrong things like using a straighter or going for treatments like keratine. They have been taunted and teased and all of us have gone through the same thing.
So, in that sense, we all share a very close bond that even we don't understand. We all are very brave and are extra kind to each other.
Another learning is about being honest and showing and not telling. Usually, the brands just write a lot of information, but they won't show the same visually. The community wanted to see the results and how the products were to be used and that's what I did.
Also, if you're in a niche, you need to know everything about it and think about it from a customer's POV. For me, that has been very natural because I am a customer myself, first. I looked at it from this lens at the beginning but since today I am too biased, I have to look at everybody else to get those answers. I participate in a lot of content writing as well.
Did Fix My Curls play a role in overcoming your insecurity about your hair?
No, actually, I began overcoming it before I started the brand. I recall watching a video online from the US featuring a girl going to a curly hair salon for the first time. It struck a chord with me, evoking strong emotions, and I even shed a few tears. It made me realize that such opportunities were lacking in our country, and we were never informed that there was an alternative.
Following that revelation, I stopped straightening my hair and using any kind of heat on it. I was in Canada at the time and had started using products specifically designed for curly hair. Adapting to this change was easy since people there weren't straightening their hair, and I felt very comfortable.
Upon returning home, I had already gained confidence in embracing my natural hair. Overcoming that insecurity became possible because people outside India were very accepting.
How did you find the right kind of people to work with and get the related knowledge to make it a successful brand?
Google! I honestly googled everything. In today's age, if you want to start something, there are no excuses. Many people believe they need a fancy business degree to become entrepreneurs, but that's not true. You just need passion and a willingness to work on it every day because everything is available on Google.
You can find information about formulations, ingredients, and how the base of a shampoo or conditioner is made—everything is available. That's how my study started, and I researched and planned between March and July. I was obsessed with my brand, living and breathing it. Initially, I hired all sorts of wrong people and made many mistakes. But over time, I learned what was needed, and today I have an amazing team of 22-25 people.
It did take time, as nobody comes perfect to you. You have to work with them, and it's a labor of love at the end of the day. You can't expect somebody to know everything about it; it's a collaborative effort. So, I had to learn how to work in a team, understand my team, delegate work, and be a good boss. I wouldn't say that I've learned everything; it's a continuous process.
What have been the challenges?
I believe the biggest challenge for us as a brand is probably education. Curly and wavy hair is still a somewhat new and niche concept for many people. Even if individuals are aware that they have curly or wavy hair, they might not know how to take care of it. Teaching them requires a bit more effort than with regular consumers. Apart from that, dealing with legal compliances in our country is always a task, but I think that's a challenge every entrepreneur has to go through.
What are the marketing and growth strategy?
At the moment, we are implementing a top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy, focusing on paid ads and performance marketing. Our approach involves attracting new customers and expanding our current community. Our existing customers are typically either loyal or experimenting with multiple brands, so we don't aggressively push them to revisit our website.
Currently, our goal is to grow our overall customer base. However, our upcoming growth strategy will involve retargeting to increase repeat rates on our website and enhance the average order value. Repeating customers tend to spend more than new customers, so our focus will be on encouraging people to return, primarily through our Instagram page.
We've spent the last 7-8 months focusing on a hook-based strategy. The goal is to engage users within the first five seconds of our ads, prompting them to make a purchase—either a single product or a maximum two-step routine with our products.
Typically, our role is to guide users on how to use the product, when to use it, and the best practices for optimal results. The current strategy revolves around education, information, and showcasing results, allowing users to make informed decisions for themselves. Our content is designed to be both fun and informative, as we aim to avoid creating mindless content.
How are marketplaces helping you setting foot in the market?
We are currently present on 16 marketplaces, including quick commerce platforms like BlinkIt, Purplle, Nykaa, and Amazon, all of which have performed well for us. Over the past four or five months, we've been expanding our reach, gradually increasing the number of pin codes we serve.
The acquisition cost tends to be higher on our website since organic traffic is not as substantial. In contrast, on aggregators, where traffic is more organic, marketing becomes more straightforward. Additionally, our products are now available at Shoppers Stop, initially in Delhi NCR and Chennai, with plans to expand to Bangalore soon. This marks our first foray into retail, and we're optimistic about the outcomes.
Do these marketplaces give you the scope to know your customers?
One challenge of working with marketplaces is that it involves third-party information. They can't share customer details with you, as doing so would enable anyone to use that data and establish their own marketplace. However, there are insights available; for example, Amazon provides information about the pin codes and cities that work best for you, which is helpful. We discovered that individuals in tier-one metropolitan cities are particularly interested in personal care. Consequently, we tailor our communication to customers based on their geographic area.
What have been the milestones in your journey as of now?
It was a significant revenue milestone for us when we finally hit one crore in a month. Additionally, our Instagram followers have almost reached 70K, and our next goal is to reach 100K. Another achievement is the recognition we are gaining; people in public spaces can now recognize us, and it's amazing that the community knows who we are.
Well, our goal is to become India's biggest community for curly and wavy hair and to be the brand that represents textured hair in our country, offering as many solutions as possible. We also have a specific sales target to achieve in the next 2-3 years. After that, our next goal is to take our products from India to a global stage, targeting at least 20-25 countries. Currently, we are already exporting our products to 10 countries outside India.
Learnings as an entrepreneur
I believe my key lesson is to be honest and truthful. As an entrepreneur, you can't handle everything, but you can hire the right people to work with you. Entrepreneurs often find themselves becoming jacks of all trades but masters of none; however, that's just the nuance. To avoid burnout, it's crucial to rely on the team you're building. Give them a timeline, wait, and trust that the work will happen.
Moreover, if you're contemplating starting something, my advice is simple: just do it. Don't make excuses; it's easy. You don't need a lot of money. Creating a website and using social media platforms are free, so get up and start. The only initial cost may be producing your product, but once you make your first sale, you can reinvest the profit into your business. This cycle will propel your business forward.
Three key takeaways for someone who is working in a beauty industry?
Keep up with trends on an hourly basis, as they change frequently. Identify the right individuals who could become the face of your brand and wield influence over your customers. Seek out those who can impact your target audience. Additionally, avoid copying what other brands are doing; instead, experiment with various types of content. Set aside time every day to sit and brainstorm for 30 minutes to an hour. It proves beneficial. While some content pieces may not resonate, you might end up creating a reel that goes viral. So, keep experimenting. Don't doubt yourself—you'll figure things out once you start.
1. Favourite podcast: Working Hard, Hardly Working by Grace Beverly.
2. A book you always go back to: The power of your subconscious mind!
3. A movie you love: Before Sunrise.
4. Favourite travel destination: Pondicherry!
5. Favourite cuisine: Japanese especially the Yakitori. Ebisu is Gurgaon is my go-to place for that.
6. Your fitness mantra: For physical health, I usually go to my Pilates classes. I'm not a gym person but go a few times a week whenever I have the time. For mental health, I read fiction books.