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Sargam Dhawan Bhayana had always been fascinated with the beauty industry and loved reading about trends. She returned to India in 2016 after studying filmmaking in the US.
“I wanted to be a filmmaker and join Bollywood, but then I took up an internship and didn’t think it was the right path for me,” she says.
During that time, she was in touch with a hair-straightening brush company DAFNI, based out of London and Israel, which was looking to expand into India.
DAFNI onboarded Sargam to help with its expansion strategy. “They had a lot of faith in me,” she says, “I wasn’t so sure, but they told me to try marketing 50 brushes. At that point, I didn’t have office space. My best friend from college joined me, and we started selling and created a website.”
Sargam and her friend didn’t expect the product to take off and become a rage. But it did, and that was the turning point in their foray into digital marketing. They started with digital marketing, tapped into social media, and eventually managed to rope in actress Gul Panag as the face of DAFNI in India.
The success with this venture, at the age of 22, was Sargam’s stepping stone into the world of entrepreneurship.
After this, there was no looking back. She and her friend set up a distribution house called Tressmart Marketing in 2016 with the aim of bringing in luxury hair care products. Soon, the company grew into a distributor of a range of beauty products.
“Any sort of beauty product, anything revolutionary was what we wanted on Tressmart,” Sargam says.
Starting with DAFNI, their first product, they managed to acquire Paul Penders, a vegan, cruelty-free brand, in 2017, owning the brand worldwide. “We distribute it worldwide and have taken the brand rights everywhere. That is a big achievement because Tressmart is only four and a half years old,” she adds.
At present, Tressmart offers a comprehensive range of premium haircare products, tools, and appliances.
Navigating through the process of setting up and scaling were significant challenges for Sargam.
The beauty market is also heavily competitive, and cluttered with brands and products that are attempting to create a mark. Standing out amongst them and retaining that differentiator were challenges that the founder had to face.
Sargam recalls that as a young woman she faced other gender-specific challenges – from not being taken seriously, being mocked at, to being ridiculed for her vision.
However, things changed when she found success. “When I started, it was really difficult. Everyone thought I was frolicking around. The same people now call me, asking for opinions and suggestions.”
A lesson from her father on educating oneself, keeping up with trends, and knowing what one advocates or sells helped Sargam significantly in her journey.
Sargam’s future plan is to focus on ecommerce, and boost sales through online platforms. In the offline space, she hopes to establish brick-and-mortar stores. Her team is also working to bring more brands to India. With ambitious scaling plans, Sargam is also looking at “exporting products”.
Edited by Teja Lele
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