When Mugdha Hedaoo moved to Singapore in December 2012 as a trailing spouse with a four-month-old in tow, she found the first couple of years especially difficult. Used to having a career of her own in India, she now didn’t have a job, was in an unfamiliar country and a new mum with no support system.
She did eventually find her grounding and worked in marketing roles for startups. When she had her second child, she decided it was time to venture into something of her own and felt a pull towards innovation and sustainability. This was how her “third child”, beauty tech startup GoPlay Cosmetics, was born.
During her career in India, Mugdha worked in a top law firm, in its intellectual property arm. As part of her job, she was exposed to innovators of Fortune 500 companies. She confesses that being at the epicentre of tech innovations before they saw the light of day was extremely thrilling.
She admits that being involved in the fast-paced environment of the startup scene both in India and Singapore was “fulfilling and invigorating and I thrived in it”. And, even though her journey to success hasn’t always been smooth-sailing, she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I am where I am today because of, and not despite of, all my prior experiences,” she says. “I don’t really consider anything as an obstacle, but more as an experience that I try to leverage on and steer myself in a new, improved direction.
For instance, the move to Singapore with my four-month-old was a very difficult time period for me. I was alone with a newborn, clueless, and getting absolutely no mental stimulation that I got from my professional career. So, I immersed myself in art, painted a whole lot of paintings, tried to sell them and failed miserably, tried to get a job – any job – and failed miserably.
“But in the process, I realised how privileged I was to have had my previous careers, have a supportive partner through these difficult times, and a family that always believed in me. This experience made me appreciate the value of consistent hard work and I became even more determined to break the mould and set high expectations for myself,” she adds.
More colours, less clutter
Mugdha is a huge fan of makeup and art therapy. She refers to the 10 minutes each day that she spends on putting on makeup as “like meditation for me”. However, she soon realised this soothing passion had a downside as she accumulated tons of products over time, many of which she never used.
Mugdha did her research by speaking to people she knew and also focused on the data behind shopping for makeup. She realised that 87 per cent of makeup that consumers purchase is wasted, without regular use. So she decided to do something about it, through GoPlay cosmetics.
“While everything around us is being personalised and made accessible on-demand, colour cosmetics, surprisingly, remains undisrupted,” she explains. “We decided to explore this gap, and came up with a solution where a user can create their own colours and textures of makeup in the comfort of their homes, in a fuss-free and affordable way.”
The beta version of LIPSKIT was launched in July 2019. The Covid pandemic disrupted the company’s supply chain so Mugdha used that time to repackage and iterate the product with early customer feedback.
“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to build our AI-driven app for personalised colour recommendations and conducting proof-of-concept studies for the custom assembled kit which is personalised to the user’s skin undertone,” the 38-year-old explains.
“Our early customers pushed us in this direction, in a way. This hyper-personalised version of the LIPSKIT – the LIPSKIT 2.0 – officially launched on Kickstarter in July 2021. We’re over 780 per cent over-funded and raised about $90,000 in revenue in 30 days.”
LIPSKIT is the world’s first hyper-personalised liquid lipstick dispenser that can make any colour you want, in any texture you like.
And you can do this anytime too. The compact kit comes with five cartridges of 5ml base colours. It’s based on colour theory, which states that a combination of primary colours of red, yellow and blue, along with white and black, results in a wide array of colours.
It takes just four steps to create your choice of lipstick shade. Once you’ve made the colour you want, you can also make it more moist by adding a drop or two of the brand’s Moisture Drop, which is included with each kit. Plus, don’t forget all that clutter you’ll be avoiding with this one kit, instead of many unused lipsticks strewn all over your home.
Mugdha thinks the USP of LIPSKIT is creativity, versatility, personalisation and reusability. She reckons shopping for the right colours and textures is frustrating, “especially in the post-pandemic world where guesswork and post-purchase regrets with online shopping are increasing by the day”. And this is why LIPSKIT customers are happy with their purchase.
“The fact that you can create your own ‘perfect’ red, nudes and more, discover looks that you otherwise never would have, and get sensory stimulation with the process of mixing colours – there’s no other makeup product out there that entertains your mind and your body all the same,” she says.
A time for women achievers
The success of the Kickstarter has meant the company was able to take pre-orders and is in production to ship out new kits in October 2021. Mugdha isn’t ready to take it easy just yet, though.
She’s already working on the next products – hyper-personalised EYESKIT and CHEEKIT. And she thinks it’s time women stepped into the limelight as we are “natural creators and nurturers”.
“Setting up a business is much like bringing up a child, or even arranging a big dinner party, for that matter,” she explains.
“There’s a lot of planning, visualising, ensuring everyone is happy and well-fed, and a lot of decisions that need to be made on the fly. We are great at this stuff. Also, women are excellent at prioritising, specifically because we play so many different roles in one day.
“That said, I truly believe that the societal and corporate landscape today is creating massive opportunities for women. With major funds being opened for women founders, more awareness about equal pay and maternity benefits, equalisation of roles that either of the partners play in their familial structures, there’s never been a better time for women to set high goals and achieve them,” she adds.
For now, Mudgha is keen on revolutionising the cosmetics world. She reveals her career goal is to build and scale GoPlay Cosmetics to a place where the company is synonymous with personalised DIY cosmetics. She also wants the company to have a global impact on the way cosmetics are accessed, manufactured and used.
“My eventual goal is to have a larger impact by starting a fund to support women-led businesses in the space of sustainable innovations,” she says.
This article was first published in Her World Online.