Shweta has a successful career spanning over 15 years. She initially joined her family-run garment export business, one of the oldest export houses in the country. It provided her the opportunity to work with globally leading garment brands and understand the export market in-depth. In her tenure of 14 years, where she worked with a multitude of export houses, she has gained incomparable knowledge of research and design, operations, and other key export processes. Thereafter, Shweta moved to hospitality, where she worked with Novotel Chamiers, a business hotel in Chennai. Under her leadership, the hotel expanded to become an award-winning franchise, widely acclaimed for its F&B services. The pandemic and a 5-day Korean skincare expo organized in Chennai led Shweta to set up Aardae, with her long-time friend, Darshana Balagopal. It took place during the pandemic and made her realize that lockdown regulations would make it difficult for global brands to transport their supplies to India. Shweta also undertook extensive market research in order to analyse a shift in behaviour towards more conscious living, leading to a spike in demand for ‘clean beauty.’ That’s when she planned to bring home-grown sustainable brands came to the forefront. Added to this, was her experience of the five-day Korean beauty expo in a Chennai mall. The products that were meant to last for 5 days sold out in a matter of 2 hours. This strengthened her confidence in her business idea and led to the birth of Aardae.
Aardae promotes brands that sell sustainable, non-toxic, and cruelty free beauty products. It is set to launch flagship stores in Singapore, Dubai, and London – beginning with Singapore. In addition, they will launch their online marketplace, which will showcase over 1000 products from over 25 Indian and 35 foreign clean beauty brands, with an initial inventory stock of 10,000 products. These brands include Aminu Wellness, Juicy Chemistry, Ruby’s Organics, Soul Tree, Dot & Key and Brillare.
According to Shweta, Singapore being a cosmopolitan city where citizens focus on sustainability in every sphere, became her obvious first choice. The consumers here prefer clean and green beauty products. However, there was a lack of platforms such as Aardae, which offer smaller brands that fulfill this consumer demand. The path was not easy, and Shweta recalls the difficulties faced during their launch, especially with the stringent Covid-19 rules in Singapore. She had to manage everything remotely from India, without ever being physically present in Singapore.
GROUNDED BY ETHICS
Shweta has set stringent norms and procedures for onboarding brands. Each brand must fulfill a checklist of six factors – safety and certifications, sourcing, sustainability, transparency, efficiency, and brand position. In addition, Aardae makes sure that the products are both skin-friendly as well as eco-friendly. To provide the consumers with products that are ‘clean’ in their truest sense, the company performs stringent in-house quality tests on each product before including it in their catalog.
With the aim to position Aardae as a one-stop solution for their consumers’ hair and skin needs, Shweta aims to expand the business by 2023 in ASEAN countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, and other GCC nations. She also plans to launch an IPO in the next 5 years.