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Kriti Sanon and mCaffeine's founding team launch new skincare brand 'Hyphen'

The actor and mCaffeine's Vaishali Gupta talk about how the brand came about and challenges of standing out in an already crowded market

Naini Thaker
Published: Jul 28, 2023 01:40:36 PM IST
Updated: Jul 28, 2023 03:47:11 PM IST

Kriti Sanon and mCaffeine's founding team launch new skincare brand 'Hyphen'Vaishali Gupta, Co-founder & CGO, Hyphen & Kriti Sanon, Co-founder & CCO, Hyphen​

Exactly one year ago, actor Kriti Sanon sent a long message to the founders of skincare brand mCaffeine on the kind of skincare brand she was looking to build, with them. Looking at the text, mCaffeine's team was taken aback—the message outlined every minute detail from the kind of products that could be developed to the ingredients it could include. 

A year later, skincare brand Hyphen—co-founded by Sanon and PEP Technologies, the parent company of mCaffeine—was born. "The passion for skincare and an engineer mindset is what brought all of us together," says Vaishali Gupta, co-founder and chief growth officer, Hyphen. PEP Technologies will invest Rs 30 crore in Hyphen as the first round of investment. 

Sanon decided to take time during the lockdown to really dive deep into understanding various ingredients, such as niacinamide, alpha arbutin or kojic acid and how they can help resolve specific skincare concerns. 

"With the plethora of products out there, there has been a lot of confusion about how these products are to be layered. I realised I was not the only one facing this challenge," recalls Sanon. This got her thinking, "What if we brought together various ingredients in one product, to target multiple concerns?" With Hyphen, they are doing just this. 

The brand is launching three products for now: Barrier Care Cream (available in two variants for oily skin and normal to dry skin types), the Golden Hour Glow Serum, and the All I Need Sunscreen SPF 50 PA++++. 

As a team that has already set up mCaffeine, "the zero to one journey is a lot easier for us with Hyphen," says Gupta. What took months for the supply chain, marketing and operations to get set up, is a lot faster this time around. "We have an idea of the journey we'll be going through and the challenges that are coming our way," she adds. 

It might be second time around for Gupta and her team, but for Sanon it’s still a first. "They are not as shocked when we hit obstacles. Every time I worry about anything that has gone wrong, Vaishali tells me, ‘Yeh ho jaayega, aap tension mat lo, kar lenge (It will work out, don't worry, we'll figure it out)’." 

Though it is skincare, the products and use cases of mCaffeine and Hyphen are vastly different. "We took 18 months to touch a Rs 100 crore average run-rate with mCaffeine, but with Hyphen we are confident that we’ll reach there sooner, in about 12-14 months," adds Gupta. 

Also watch: Founder's Corner with Harsh Mariwala of Marico and Tarun Sharma of mCaffeine—FILA 2022

With the launch of this brand, Sanon joins the bandwagon of celebrity-led skincare and beauty brands including the likes of Deepika Padukone’s 82°E, Katrina Kaif's Kay Beauty, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty and many more. While there might be a handful of celebrity-led brands, there is definitely a plethora of skincare brands in India. The Indian skin care market is estimated at $6.93 billion in 2023, and is expected to reach $10.31 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 8.25 percent, states a Research and Markets report. 

So, with so much competition, what makes Hyphen stand out? 

People in India want simple, uncomplicated, yet effective skincare products. "We are building a brand with this in mind," says Sanon. "For every product that we are launching, there is a strong differentiation that we are creating be it in terms of the ingredients used or the concerns we are targeting,” adds Gupta. Additionally, unlike most celebrity-led beauty and skincare brands, Sanon has ensured that Hyphen’s products are affordable and available for the masses to use, while keeping a strong focus on research and development. Even as these products are launched, there are a lot more that are in the works as well. 

Says Sanon, “It’s nice to be doing something different, which is like, it has nothing to do with me being an actor. You shouldn’t just be limiting yourself to one profession, and you need to level up every now and then and feel like a newcomer, and you need to ‘hyphen' something to your life, every now and then.” 

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