From launching a home-based linen enterprise that generated 30x profit when she was 17 years old, to heading Nykaa’s private label and then founding her own makeup brand, Harlin Sachdeva, founder & CEO of House Of Makeup has come a long way.

Today, the Indian cosmetic market is estimated to touch US$6.45bn by the end of 2024.  The market is growing, and there’s space for more. Once upon a time, makeup was an occasional luxury, indulged by our mothers and aunts only on weddings and festivals. Today,  it has become an everyday necessity. This change in behavior has led to multiple cosmetic brands, especially homegrown ones, mushrooming across the country. Harlin Sachdeva, founder of House Of Makeup, a 100% clean, vegan, high-impact makeup brand is deeply familiar with this evolution, having been an integral part of the beauty industry for a decade now.

Harlin’s love for makeup began at a young age: when she used to watch her mother get ready every evening. Those special moments between mother and daughter, where the latter shared her love for beauty and makeup with a young Harlin, laid the foundation for what would become House Of Makeup.

“Coming from a middle-class family with parents in service, entrepreneurship was entirely new to me…. but my passion for creating premium cosmetics led me on this path,” says Harlin.

However, House Of Makeup isn’t Harlin’s first venture. At the tender age of 17, following the sudden death of her father, Harlin launched a linen business to contribute to household expenses. By getting premium quality linen from vendors across the country and customizing them, Harlin offered her neighbours something they’d never seen before. Thanks to the uniqueness of her business idea, her venture generated a handsome profit of almost 30x. This experience taught her the basics of business, and seeded the confidence of doing something on her own.

Armed with a business degree, Harlin then began her beauty journey at Fab Bags (which later pivoted to become Sugar Cosmetics) and saw the company through its transition to a makeup brand. She then moved to Unilever, where she handled multiple fashion and lifestyle brands, before heading Nykaa’s private label. During this journey, Harlin came to identify a missing gap: While cosmetic brands were mushrooming all over the country, not all makeup was made equal. There was room in the market for a makeup brand that did not compromise on performance or health— that set a new bar in ‘clean, high-impact beauty’.

Says Harlin Sachdeva, “I’ve always been a fan of international brands like Ilia beauty and Tarte Cosmetics–I admire how they’ve effectively combined high performance and premium ingredients. Today, I, like so many other Indian women, wear makeup every day because it makes me feel good about myself. But while our lipsticks, concealers, kajals, etc. help us boost our mood and self-confidence, they should also be good for us in the long-term, without causing any adverse effects on health. Moreover, customers should not have to pay a hefty price to get a high-performance, premium product. I wanted to bridge this gap by offering premium, well-formulated products that are affordable to most.”

To deliver on their promise of clean, high-performance products, House Of Makeup follows the strictest cosmetic regulation in the world, i.e., the European Cosmetic Directive, which bans over 1300 toxic ingredients.

“When you offer people 100% clean makeup, you take away the most pressing concern of health and safety—now consumers only need to focus on how effective the product is, and what works best for their skin and tone,” explains Harlin. “Performance is an equally important box to tick—if makeup doesn’t deliver on/above expectations, it will have no takers, no matter how clean it is. Plus, today, nobody has time for daily makeup applications that involve multiple products—we want to simplify our routines with multi-tasking essentials—for example, your concealer should work as a foundation too, in a pinch, your skin tint should moisturize and incorporate SPF, and your lipsticks should hydrate your lips while enhancing them. Apart from being clean, good makeup is one that saves you time and money,” she adds.

House Of Makeup initially set up shop in 2019, with a limited range of products. The products quickly garnered success amongst customers, but then in 2020, the pandemic struck. The brand had to shutter their offline stores and pivot online. However, despite the all-time low cosmetic sales, House Of Makeup managed to survive through the pandemic, thanks to the loyal customer base they had built. Moreover, 70% of their sales came from their native digital platform. This success led to the brand’s relaunch in June 2023, when they managed to raise pre-series A funding. Today, the brand has 87 SKUs across 10 categories, with many more exciting products in the pipeline.

And while the brand is built on high-performance, and the philosophy of clean, vegan, cruelty-free formulations, every product also combines skin care with makeup.

Harlin elaborates, “We’re living in an age where technology has ushered in rapid positive change—and we can leverage this innovation in makeup too. Gone are the days when people used to crush precious stones or insects to apply on their lips—today, not only can makeup be vegan and clean, it should also contain skin-nourishing ingredients, including regenerative actives like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin E, ceramides, etc. To sum it up: Beauty should be effective, protective, and clean, without costing an arm and a leg… this is the true definition of empowering makeup.”


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