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From A Mother’s Worry About Her Baby To A $1.2 Bn Brand: Mamaearth

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From A Mother's Worry About Her Baby To A $1.2 Bn Brand: Mamaearth

Have you ever gone overboard with baby gifts? Scented lotions, fluffy towels, adorable bath toys, fantastic baby food, baby clothes… the list goes on! After all, you want the best for your kids, don’t you?

Amidst the excitement, have you ever wondered what ingredients lurk in those products? One couple was appalled at what they found made up of these baby products.

So, they embarked on a journey away from flashy packaging and embraced products rooted in safety and purity. Their quest, especially the mother’s wish for natural, gentle ingredients, was a game-changer in the personal care industry.

Want to unravel the story of this courageous couple who dared to redefine the standards of baby care? Read on…

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When Excitement Turns to Concern

Like any first-time parents, Varun and Gazal Alagh were on cloud nine – a tiny human was about to join their world. Picking a name, decorating the nursery – the joys of preparation were endless. But beneath it all, a worry bloomed. 

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Hidden Danger in Store Shelves

Ghazal, mindful of safe products from their time abroad, scanned Indian baby care options.

It sent shivers down her spine. Ingredients banned in other countries were still being used here, and importing reliable alternatives proved expensive and inconvenient. Ghazal realized they weren’t alone. Many parents in India shared this silent concern.

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Taking Matters into Their Own Hands

Tired of chemical-laden baby products, Ghazal, the artist, and Varun, the Coca-Cola exec, took a wild chance.  They dreamed of safe, natural options for all parents, and in 2016, Mamaearth was born.

The name says it all: a brand built by parents, for parents, as gentle as a mother’s touch.
Ghazal wondered if parents cared about toxin-free products. “Who thinks of toxin-free products in India?” whispered her mind.

But Varun used to the big leagues of marketing, knew online was the perfect test market for their premium brand. It was a gamble.

Varun, who had enjoyed a comfortable career at Coca-Cola, Diageo, and Hindustan Unilever, was taking a major leap of faith. He was worried the online approach was unfamiliar, his experience rooted in traditional brick-and-mortar.  “Who sells only online?” some questioned.

But Varun was convinced it was the ideal way to test the waters for their small-scale brand targeting metro moms.  Would metro moms embrace their vision?  Only time will tell.

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Early Struggles and the Power of “Why

Building a brand from scratch is no easy task. Mamaearth faced several challenges. Securing funding was a hurdle, with investors hesitant about a brand venturing into the uncharted territory of toxin-free baby care.

The couple, initially handling customer service themselves, received blank stares when they told an investor to call their customer care line. 

But Ghazal and Varun had a clear “why” driving them. Their belief in the importance of safe products for all babies fueled their perseverance.

They meticulously curated a team, conducted in-depth research, and prioritized acquiring the coveted Made Safe certification – the first Asian brand to do so.

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Moms Know Best

Varun and Ghazal understood the power of community. They knew that mothers, more than anyone, craved safe and effective products for their little ones, so they went directly to them.  

Leveraging social media and influencer marketing, they connected with like-minded parents who prioritized natural solutions to establish Mamaearth as a brand that truly understood their needs. The “Mamaearth Mom” became their ideal customer – a woman who prioritized her child’s well-being and her own. 

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From Niche to Inclusive

Initially, Varun and Ghazal focused on baby care, offering a range of toxin-free essentials, but they soon decided to extend their offerings.

They realized the need for safe and natural solutions transcended the age barrier. Haircare, skincare, and a range of natural ingredient products like onion, ubtan, and tea tree found their way into Mamaearth’s offerings.  

They catered not only to babies but also to their mothers. From sunscreen to stretch mark removal serums, Mamaearth addressed the many facets of motherhood. 

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Learning from Mistakes

Mamaearth’s journey wasn’t without missteps. Varun and Ghazal wanted to explore the food and nutrition segment, but it backfired. Their brand identity, firmly established in personal care, wasn’t a natural fit for the new category. So, within six months, the duo had to wrap up the section.

Similarly, their initial beauty product line, targeted solely at expectant mothers, needed revision.  Consumers felt it was too niche. Never to shy away from learning, Varun and Ghazal embraced these experiences as valuable lessons.

They changed their strategies, shifting towards unisex products that catered to a broader audience. The move paid off. Soon, 48% of their personal care product buyers turned out to be men.

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Navigating a Competitive Landscape

The Indian cosmetics industry is a battleground.  Established giants like Himalaya and Johnson & Johnson, alongside e-commerce giants like Nykaa, posed a formidable challenge.  Newer startups, too, were vying for a slice of the pie. 

Mamaearth carved its niche by emphasizing its commitment to natural ingredients and toxin-free formulations.  Their “Made Safe” certification, a first in Asia, further differentiated themselves from the competition.

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A Brand on the Rise

In 2016, the company morphed from a small startup into a “house of brands.”  Strategic acquisitions like Mompresso, BBlunt, and Dr. Sheth’s broadened its reach and expertise.

They became one of India’s fastest-growing brands, crossing the 100 crore turnover mark within just four years. Their valuation soared to $1.2 billion, a testament to their impressive growth. 

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They garnered recognition, receiving awards like “Young Turks Startup of the Year. “

Featured on the Forbes “Asia’s Power Businesswomen” list, Ghazal Alagh, the co-founder, became a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Expanding Horizons

The duo couple’s vision doesn’t stop at the digital realm.  Recognizing the growing importance of offline retail, they’ve strategically opened brick-and-mortar stores across India. 

Partnerships with Yes Madam and Apollo Pharmacy further solidify their commitment to accessibility.  Global aspirations are also taking root, with their products finding a place in international markets.

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Putting the Planet First

Since the beginning, both Varun and Ghazal have maintained a strict sustainability policy. Understanding the burden on our planet, they pioneered eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Recycled and recyclable materials became the norm, and the brand actively championed the concept of responsible consumption. It wasn’t just about what went inside the products but also about the footprint they left behind.

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Safety and Sustainability

Mamaearth’s rise has transformed the personal care industry and paved the way for a more conscious consumer mindset.

Their focus remains steadfast – providing safe, natural, and effective products that cater to the evolving needs of a global audience. Their dedication to sustainability and responsible sourcing practices ensures a legacy that prioritizes both people and the planet.

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I’m Archana R. Chettiar, an experienced content creator with
an affinity for writing on personal finance and other financial content. I
love to write on equity investing, retirement, managing money, and more.

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