Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Ideas are truly the currency of the present: Priyanka Chopra

The actor-turned-entrepreneur speaks to Forbes India about looking for gaps in the market, her investment philosophy and plans for her newly launched haircare brand Anomaly in India

Naini Thaker
Published: Aug 26, 2022 05:16:18 PM IST
Updated: Aug 26, 2022 05:32:59 PM IST

Ideas are truly the currency of the present: Priyanka ChopraActor, investor and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra Image: Gotham/GC Images/Getty Images

Right before the pandemic hit, in 2019, actor, investor, entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra met with Maesa, a beauty incubator. Soon after, Anomaly Haircare was born. “There was no ‘aha moment’ for when I decided to launch a brand, it just evolved into an idea,” she recalls.

During the research and development process, Chopra recalls going to multiple stores and buying dry shampoos. “I really tried to find dry shampoos that don’t leave that white residue, that smell amazing and still give you that freshness,” she says. Unfortunately, she came across no such perfect product at an affordable price.

Chopra knew immediately that affordable quality haircare was a market gap that she wanted to tap into. In 2021, the brand was launched in the United States with an exclusive tie-up with Target stores across the country. Chopra is also an investor in online dating app Bumble, computer science school Holberton School, real estate company Apartment List and luxury skiwear brand Perfect Moment.

After close to a year since its launch, the Anomaly brand is now available in India on Nykaa—both the online platform as well as its offline stores. “I always knew I wanted Anomaly to come to India and there was no other option besides Nykaa—they’re the best in the business. I always like to partner with market leaders,” she says.

Forbes India spoke to Chopra via a Zoom call about her decision to turn into an entrepreneur and what her investment philosophy is. Edited excerpts:

Q. When did you decide to take up entrepreneurship?

Technically, I've always been in the business of entertainment—we’re making movies, people are buying tickets, it’s a business right? But over time, as I started learning a lot more, I realised that the beauty industry is very intertwined with the entertainment industry. I started learning and meeting more people, and business was just something that I really took to. I started my production company first and that was my first taste of entrepreneurship. I started investing in a few brands and sort of testing the waters, while I was looking for gaps in the market and figuring out what I wanted to do. I’ve realised that ideas are truly the currency of the present.

Q. How did the thought of getting into the haircare space come to mind?

Over the years, I've just sat on so many hair and makeup chairs with so many experts using the best products in the world, on my hair and my face, that I have the experience of what hair care products should look like. As I was thinking through this, I think the trifecta that was missing in the haircare aisle was—having superior formulas, that you would pay a lot of money for at an affordable price, which is also clean and sustainable.

So the idea evolved from my growing interest in business, meeting and knowing many people in the beauty business and seeing some very inspiring female founders. One of the big reasons for partnering with Nykaa is Falguni [Nayar]—the fact that she started out by setting up a beauty platform, and went on to become a market leader… it was highly inspiring to me as someone who’s taking nascent baby steps into business.

Q. The global and Indian market has intense competition in the space of beauty and personal care. What do you think makes Anomaly stand out?

As the name suggests, our products are an ‘anomaly’. There are not many brands that will provide you what we are providing you, especially at such affordable rates. For instance, when you compare our bonding mask with others in the market, it is 1/5th the price. The trifecta of having these superior formulas, being affordable and clean, I think is what makes us an anomaly.

All our bottles are made at very nominal costs, because they are all made from 100 percent recycled trash. For instance, our bottle caps literally cost 3 cents each. Now, because we spend so little on our packaging, we had enough to spend on creating superior formulas—that you would otherwise pay so much more for. We use ingredients such as aloe vera, quinoa, avacado, rice water etc… ingredients that are supposed to make the foundation of your hair super strong.

Q. Over the last few years, how has the Indian beauty market evolved?

I think this is a very interesting time for us to be in business with the Indian consumer, since access to the best global beauty products is now available at your doorstep thanks to platforms like Nykaa. So, suddenly, the consumer’s interest and knowledge in the beauty and personal care space has increased. Secondly, the Indian consumer has become more conscious and aware of their choices. They know what’s good for them, the right questions to ask and they’re increasingly becoming conscious of clean and sustainable beauty products too.

Q. Are there any challenges that you foresee with respect to working in the Indian market, given how competitive the market is?
Of course, there are always challenges. It’s a new and small brand, so getting people to be aware of Anomaly is a challenge in itself. We really think Nykaa can help in making the right kind of noise and helping us reach Indian consumers. We’re just about finding our feet, I’m learning about the beauty market, and there are many hurdles I expect to see, but I am always someone that rises to a challenge. I am very proud of the product, so I do think Anomaly can stand the test of time. I hope that Anomaly becomes your hair’s best friend.

Also read: Falguni Nayar and Nykaa: The beauty and the beast of the market

Q. Outside of haircare, are you looking to expand into other segments like skincare?
I don’t know just yet, but I am very interested in the business of beauty and business in general. I want to learn more from my peers and other founders, but if I want to get into skincare, I can’t say yes or no.

Q. You’ve made multiple investments in various businesses. What is your investment philosophy? What are some criteria that you look at before making the investment?
I’m very instinctive when it comes to my investment philosophy. The idea is to be able to invest in brands that I can see a growth potential in. I want to be investing in a brand before it becomes the biggest brand, and catch it when it’s still nascent, and be a part of its growth story. For instance, Bumble, now Perfect Moment, Apartment List etc. Also, I like to invest in companies that I feel cater to a gap in the market and would be a product or service that I would use in my real life.