Beauty start-up Sugar Cosmetics nabs $21m in funding

At closing, the Indian colour cosmetics brand had doubled its valuation to $100m

Sugar Cosmetics' co-founders, Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee

India’s Sugar Cosmetics has raised US$21m in a round of funding, led by the brand’s newest shareholder Elevation Capital.

At closing, the colour cosmetics brand has doubled its valuation to $100m.

The series C funds will be put towards building on Sugar Cosmetics' digital and retail distribution in new and existing markets

According to news sources, existing investors A91 Partners, India Quotient and venture debt firm Stride Ventures also took part in the funding.

Sugar Cosmetics’ portfolio includes skus for lips, eyes, face and nails, as well as a collection of own-brand skin care products, with face masks as its primary focus.

Founded in 2015 by Vineeta Singh and Kaushik Mukherjee as a direct-to-consumer beauty brand, the start-up operates 10,000 retail destinations in more than 130 cities across India, and is expected to surpass 40,000 in 2021.

Investment in bricks-and-mortar is a huge part of the company's strategy, despite the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has pulled down the shutters on a host of non-essential retailers, including beauty.

In 2019 the group expanded its retail presence more than 700% across its founding country.

Despite the risks of the physical retail space due to pandemic, Singh said the brand has been able to recover quickly.

"While the Covid-19 disruption was a spanner in the works, we were quick to bounce back to 150% of our pre-Covid revenues last quarter and that too profitably," she noted.

"A brand can only be as resilient as the team that drives it and for this I thank my colleagues, our customers and existing investors who supported us through unpredictable times.

"Today, Kaushik and I are delighted to welcome Elevation Capital as the newest shareholder in our cap table as we power ahead to build a loved and enduring brand over the next decade.”

Meanwhile, her business partner noted the brand's strong presence on social media.

“In a short period of time, Sugar has done a tremendous job in establishing itself as the go to cosmetics brand for modern day Indian women," added Mukherjee.

"By starting out digital first and obsessing over the needs of their consumers, Sugar has not only developed a playbook to create better products suited for the Indian market, but has also enhanced awareness about various make-up products through its social media channels.

"We are super excited to be a part of the next chapter of their journey.”

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