W Power 2024

Katrina Kaif: Turning passion into mission with Kay Beauty

Actor Katrina Kaif turned her love for make-up into a business venture. Her label Kay Beauty has products for all age groups and skin tones, and also aims to be a community for women

Naini Thaker
Published: Dec 12, 2022 11:42:43 AM IST
Updated: Dec 12, 2022 11:53:12 AM IST

Katrina Kaif, the Bollywood star turned entrepreneur Image: Tarun Vishwa; Hair: Yianni Tsapatori; Makeup: Sandhya Shekhar; Styling: Shreya Gupta, Komal VoraKatrina Kaif, the Bollywood star turned entrepreneur Image: Tarun Vishwa; Hair: Yianni Tsapatori; Makeup: Sandhya Shekhar; Styling: Shreya Gupta, Komal Vora

“Make-up has been one of my biggest passions,” says Katrina Kaif. In 2019, the Bollywood star turned entrepreneur when she decided to turn her passion into a business venture. “I think the honest and pure desire to start a make-up label was what inspired me to turn entrepreneur,” she says.

Kaif’s manager Vivek Kamath introduced her to Falguni Nayar, CEO and founder of Nykaa. “When I met Falguni,” recalls Kaif, “I noticed two things. One, this person has an amazing gift to take quick decisions—which is something I struggle with at times—and she is someone who shares the same passion for make-up and beauty.” That was the beginning of what Nayar and Kaif like to call, “a good marriage and partnership”.

The vision for the brand was to start a make-up line that would be for all age groups, genders and skin tones. “More than just a brand, I wanted it to be a community for women, who would feel completely okay to be themselves—which is also our tagline ‘It’s Kay to Be You’.”

It’s all in the details

The superstar started her career as a model and then made her debut in films with Boom in 2003. After a slightly bumpy start, Kaif found commercial success in Bollywood with films like Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005) and Namastey London (2007). She has since worked her way up and today is one of the country’s biggest film stars. One of the secrets to her success is her passion and drive for perfection. Even with her latest role as an entrepreneur, her focus was on getting the products just right.

Focussing on the right ingredients for each product was necessary. “I do a lot of my own make-up, which means delivering the right quality of products was super important. We went through months of testing stages for all our products before finally getting it right,” says Kaif. She prides herself on one of Kay Beauty’s hero products—the lip crayon. “I think getting the texture of the lip crayon right was one of our greatest achievements. I spent years trying to find the perfect consistency, something that doesn’t dry out the lips, isn’t too shiny, yet gives them enough moisture.” Along with the Nykaa team, Kaif has been trying to find gaps in the Indian beauty market, and innovating with products there. For instance, products like illuminating primer drops and liquid colour correctors.

Also read: A year since Nykaa's IPO: More acquisitions, new products, focus on profitability

Though Kay was not started as a professional brand, today its products have made their way into the bags of some of India’s best make-up artists. She jokes, “I get calls from my colleagues in the film industry asking for our products because they are sold out online. It’s a great feeling because it has all been entirely organic.” Currently, Kay Beauty has achieved an annualised GMV run rate of more than ₹100 crore within a short span of just three years.

“Despite the pandemic, Kay Beauty since its launch is one of our top brands—be it offline or online. The brand is also going beyond Nykaa stores to our other general trade and modern trade stores. It is a high performing and a loved brand because of what it delivers at very affordable prices. The plan is to take it global,” says Nayar.

Check out the complete India’s W-Power 2022 list

While Nykaa looks after supply chain and inventory, Kaif looks after the marketing. “Kay is a reflection of her authenticity and passion for make-up,” adds Nayar. “She is extremely particular. She’ll call me up and say, I’m not very happy with, say, the wireframes for Kay Beauty. I’ll say, yes, we should get it done with more professional teams.” Kaif was also one of the early investors at Nykaa.

With a lot more products coming up, Kay Beauty and Kaif have a lot more in store.

Some of her biggest learnings as an entrepreneur have been, “how to take quick decisions. Sometimes I get stuck on small details and fail to see the bigger picture. The second is to listen to consumers and not be too rigid. Doing that is what has helped our products do well.” 

(This story appears in the 16 December, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)