“Not Another Influencer Brand”: Diipa Büller-Khosla Gets Serious About Skincare And Championing Desi Women With Inde Wild
Influencer and model Diipa Büller-Khosla pulled from her background to start her beauty brand Inde Wild. Her mother Sangitha Khosla is an Ayurvedic doctor and dermatologist, so the 30-year-old grew up surrounded by all things skincare. She recalls, “I’d be cooking up all these beauty concoctions with mom on the kitchen counter, and then there’d be her dermatology books all over the house.”
Büller-Khosla developed acne as a teenager, which led her to diving into ingredients and products separate from her mom, sussing out what she could incorporate from her South Asian heritage and a “science angle,” she says. The merging of both worlds became the impetus for Inde Wild. Büller-Khosla points out the term “Ayurvedistry,” a combination Ayurveda and chemistry, sums up the brand. She says its products “will always have superfoods from Ayurveda, and they will have innovative conscious chemistry.”
Priced at $37 each, Inde Wild’s two inaugural products—AM Sunrise Glow Serum and PM Sunset Restore Serum—contain ingredients like ashwagandha, turmeric, saffron and bakuchiol along with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, squalane and vitamin C. Bakuchiol has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. Büller-Khosla turned to the ingredient as an effective plant-based retinol alternative once she got pregnant as Inde Wild was in development. “I thought the first two products we bring out as a brand should be suitable for all—pregnant women, sensitive skin, women with acne-prone skin, all of the above,” she says. “It’s like a basic white T-shirt and jeans for your skincare that you just need to have in your wardrobe and that works with everything.”
Büller-Khosla divulges Inde Wild took two years to bring to market. AM Sunrise Glow Serum went through 43 formula changes, and PM Sunset Restore Serum went through 21. “It could have come out slightly earlier, but because we wanted to really make sure that every product we brought out was really good, I think it took the kind of timeline that it did,” says Büller-Khosla. The pandemic allowed her to dedicate time to the project. “Before the pandemic, I used to be on a flight twice a week almost and travel was a big part of the job,” she says. “The first few weeks I remember just being numb, like, ‘OK, what now? Is everything going to stop? How’s it going to work?’ But, surprisingly, it was such a silver lining to the whole thing because I had no distractions.”
Along with her mother, who Büller-Khosla counts as a muse for the brand, Inde Wild assembled an expert board of four women, ranging from Heleen Kibbelaar, a doctoral student studying skin and hair, to Nidhi Pandya, a third-generation Ayurvedic practitioner, to look at the products through different lenses. “These women come up with the innovative formulations and they come together to basically bring out the best of each product.” Büller-Khosla also partnered with an incubator to help manufacture the brand. The incubator declined to be named, according to reporting by the publication Glossy.
Büller-Khosla tapped her 1.5 million followers to gather insight for Inde Wild. “We’ve done over 13 focus groups and four surveys, and the surveys were sometimes answered by between 6,000 to 12,000 participants, all from my Instagram followers,” she details. “We really make them part of the journey, and I wanted it to be something that they wanted and that they found lacking in the industry. So, we asked them questions: What are your skincare concerns? What are the products that you still don’t have that meet your skincare concerns? What is your age? What is your skin type?”
Büller-Khosla describes her followers as mostly “modern South Asian women” in the United States, Canada, India and the United Kingdom between the age of 18 and 40. They’re the target audience for Inde Wild. “We really want this brand to champion our culture and champion Desi women and really champion brown skin to the forefront,” says Büller-Khosla, adding, “But, of course, everyone can use it, too.”
Büller-Khosla plans on tapping into other South Asian influencers to get the word out about the brand, a network she points out has grown tremendously over the last few years. “It’s been incredible to see so many South Asian influencers come up in the last few years because, when I started being an influencer, I think I was one of two or one of three in the entire world,” she says.
As an influencer, consumer and now brand founder, Büller-Khosla has been on multiple sides of the beauty industry. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, she appreciates how hard it is to build something really good. One of her biggest learnings relates to raising funds. She used around $400,000 of her own money and raised $1.4 million to start Inde Wild from angel investors. “It was a very interesting journey because you don’t see many female-led businesses do that,” she says. “So, having to do that for the first time as a female-led business was very rewarding and very, very educational. I felt like, at the end of the raising round, I’d done an MBA for free because I learned so much from it.”
Branching out from skincare, there are already a couple of Inde Wild haircare products in the pipeline along with a sun care product. Reflecting on the brand’s mission, Büller-Khosla wants to do for South Asian beauty what Tatcha has done for Japanese beauty. “I am an influencer, but I definitely wanted this brand to be not another influencer brand, you know?” she says. “So, whether it is from the point of just the brand messaging or the mission of the brand to the ingredients to the packaging, every aspect of the brand is very well thought through.”
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