Growing up, whenever I had a pimple, I would apply a homemade mask made of lemon, turmeric and milk, way before this combination became a trend. Turmeric wasn't just a spice my mom added to her curries, but the versatile ingredient also found its way into lukewarm milk to fight a cold, or in a golden paste applied on brides before their wedding day for good luck. The benefits of Ayurvedic foods like turmeric trace back thousands of years — five thousand to be exact — and are staples in many South Asian households. Now global influencer and beautypreneur Diipa Büller-Khosla wants to bring the healing powers of Ayurveda to everyone's house.
Earlier this month, Büller-Khosla launched Indē Wild, the world's first-ever skin-care collection of Ayurvedistry (a combination of Ayurveda and chemistry) that is revolutionising the way skin feels, heals, and looks. It includes the AM Sunrise Glow Serum ($37) and PM Sunset Restore Serum ($37).
Büller-Khosla has been transparent with her 1.5 million followers about her struggle with acne spanning the past 10 years. Her mother, Dr. Sangitha Khosla, is a dermatologist, so naturally Büller-Khosla grew up with dermatology books all over the house, alongside her own kitchen-counter beauty concoctions to ameliorate her painful acne. As someone who intimately knew the skin-care world and tested many products of other brands, it was just a matter of time before she utilised this knowledge to create her own brand fueled by innovation and supported by science. There is a void in the beauty industry when it comes to products that cater to South Asian women with varying brown skin tones and concerns (like eczema, pigmentation, and discolouration). Büller-Khosla is changing that. Ahead, I spoke to the founder about Indē Wild's global presence, entrepreneurship in the age of COVID, and the vision behind the consumer-driven brand.
How It All Started
Two years ago, Büller-Khosla received an email from an incubator who was ready to release a product in six months. Determined "not to be another influencer brand," she declined. "I realized I wanted to do this from scratch, so I put my heart and soul into it and worked with a fantastic team to make it happen. Two years and 43 versions of the AM serum and 21 versions of the PM serum later, we are here," she told POPSUGAR.
Inde Wild's all female-expert board consists of Khosla, board certified dermatologist Suchismita Tia Paul, MD, third generation Ayurvedic practitioner Nidhi Pandya, and doctoral candidate Heleen Kibbelaa, all of whom were focused on different aspects of the innovation process that led to the creation of Indē Wild's two inaugural products.
The Inspiration Behind Indē Wild
Indē Wild's ethos is clear: focus on the consumer's needs. Shortly after Büller-Khosla got the idea to start the brand, the team conducted 13 focus groups and four surveys across the US, UK, and India. Pulling from her Instagram followers, these participants ranged between the ages of 18-40 and candidly discussed the fatigue they experienced from popularized multi-step skin routines, what they believed was missing in the skin-care industry, and how the market could cater to South Asian skin-care needs.
"These [women] are the secret weapon behind Indē Wild," she said. "We wanted the brand to encompass a powerful message, so while we were brainstorming ideas about the brand's name, we kept gravitating toward 'Independent,' which has a touchpoint to the spirit of India and also where Ayurveda comes from, and "wild" when it comes to the fierceness of women. And that's how 'Indē Wild' was born. This brand is inspired and formulated with brown skin in mind, but of course everyone can use it."
On Transparency, Accessibility, and Sustainability
Ayurveda, originating from India (also where Büller-Khosla grew up), is one of the oldest natural sciences that encompasses the rich heritage and tradition that is becoming mainstream. According to third-generation Ayurvedic practitioner Nidhi Pandya, the Sunrise Glow Serum, or AM serum, contains Ayurvedic ingredients like ashwagandha and turmeric, which is known for its anti-inflammatory qualities, collagen promotion, and skin-enhancing abilities. The Sunset Restore Serum, or PM serum, includes the rejuvenating herb amla (Indian gooseberry), bakuchiol, tripeptide complex, squalane, and naturally cooling ingredient saffron. The duo work in a perfect marriage: the AM serum provides protection and enhancement, while the PM serum repairs the skin, boosts collagen, and reduces pigmentation. All of these ingredients are clearly listed on the brand packaging.
"We want to be radically transparent with our consumers," she said. "We don't share just the active ingredients, but everything that goes into our products in a way that is easily understood. Education is a big part of the brand, and we want our consumers to be knowledgeable about what goes on their skin."
Besides transparency, Indē Wild is an advocate for accessibility — and their affordable price point is a prime example of that. "A big part of our community is the Gen Z population, and we wanted to make sure that we picked a price point that was reasonable and accessible."
The vegan, cruelty-free products themselves are also sustainable; the bottles are made of glass and the cartons which house the serums are made out of FSC-certified paper, both of which are fully recyclable. The team aspires to continue improving each step of the supply chain with sustainable, future innovations.
On Entrepreneurship and Pregnancy During a Pandemic
While most of us were baking banana bread or perfecting dalgona coffee in the beginning of the pandemic, Büller-Khosla was busy learning about entrepreneurship all while pregnant with her daughter, Dua. Despite the obvious challenges of conducting virtual-only meetings across different time zones and not meeting her team in person, Büller-Khosla talks about turning her don'ts into dos. She said pregnancy taught her the importance of creating products that were safe for expecting women and breastfeeding mothers (that's one of the main reasons why they opted to use gentler bakuchiol instead of retinol, after realising she couldn't sample her own products if they contained the latter).
"[The pandemic] was a weird time where everything was on Zoom, but I realized you need the support of a good team who shares the same vision no matter where you are," said Büller-Khosla. "Our goal is to create a global brand that celebrates South Asian culture. We see Indē Wild as a conscious beauty ecosystem that will become the 'Nike' of beauty."