We are Art
Y’all know about my shift towards clean beauty….what you may not know, unless you follow my social media, is about another shift….the shift towards INCLUSIVE beauty brands. Brands that were made with people of ALL skin tones in mind. It’s been exhausting for people of color to watch traditional beauty brands, drag their feet towards including people of color in the brands idea of a consumer WORTH creating for. If you have ANY color in your skin, shopping for makeup can be HARD. Most makeup brands feature neutral colors, which look beautiful on a few select skin tones. If you are a person of color, most of these neutral palettes had colors that turned ashy and gray on our skin tones. I’m just stating facts.
People of color are done waiting around for the moment we are seen and valued by these brands. There is an idea that if there is not a seat at the table for you, you should go and create your own table. That is exactly what sisters Reena and Tara Bhikha of Kailav Beauty have done.
How did the concept of Kailav Beauty become a reality? Did the sisters set out to do this from a young age? I got into ALL of those questions, and more, in my recent Q & A with Reena Bhikha.
Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start…i have to y’all).
The catalyst…. The moment that the two sisters decided to create the solution to a problem they were impacted by….. happened where? – On a family trip. Each sister had packed their individual bags, make up bags included. Tara complained that she had to bring six different eyeshadow palettes to achieve the types of creative looks she liked. Can you imagine yall – six different palettes!
Reena was at the point of getting bored and frustrated by the rinse-and-repeat type releases she kept seeing on the market. Nothing felt inspiring, and all of it felt like the same old neutrals all over again. Where was the high-quality makeup for people who wanted dazzling colors that challenged and inspired them? And FYI – Reena has a make up You Tube channel, so she was “in the know” about upcoming launches and products, but still, nothing in the market stood out to her.
They voiced their concerns and frustrations with each other and then they started thinking.
What was the goal? What did you set out to achieve with Kailav?
Kailav is a brand made for creatives, by creatives. By tapping into some of the most influential, renowned art works, Kailav products straddle the line of “is this makeup, or is this a work of art?” Their artistic packaging alone intrigues customers and draws them in, but they remain customers for life for the inspiring color stories and exceptional formulations. Kailav aesthetics, designed by Tara herself, are inspired by art history because the founders believe “you are art!”
Reena explains, “Makeup shouldn’t be about covering up who you are. Makeup is a powerful tool to show the world who you are, without saying a single word! I can create a fun, colorful look in five minutes in the morning and wear my creativity proudly.”
It seems like these two sisters just dove in head first into the business world. But that is not the case. Kailav was founded in 2020, but the sisters dreamed up the idea of Kailav back in 2018. These sisters come from an entrepreneurial Indian family which means that they can always lean on their parents and grandparents for business advice. There were always conversations over dinner about how everyone’s businesses are going and new ideas springing back and forth over drinks. For Reena and Tara, business is in their blood.
How would you describe your experience as a female founder?
Kailav is a tiny, yet powerful all-woman team. “We do practically everything in-house, from designing the palette artwork to customer service. It’s important during the early stages of our brand that we remain as hands-on as possible. This brand is our baby, and it does take a village.”
“Being a first time founder is obviously hard, but we must be doing something right. Our messaging has resonated with thousands of people, especially those who identify as creative. We have painters, graphic designers, art historians, and dancers buying our products and sending us rave feedback. Our products are meaningful to them.”
Reena quit her 9-5 job in data science to pursue Kailav full-time. “Taking the plunge should have been terrifying, but when you make a decision that aligns with your values, you feel pretty calm. I was meant to be doing this. We’re growing like crazy, and I’m so excited to see where we are six months from now.”
Reena and I bonded over the frustration that we both feel about the beauty industry – how even though this industry focuses marketing exclusively to women, the vast majority of decision-makers in industry are white men, this is an issue that hurts me down to my CORE. The result is out-of-touch products that push the same European beauty standards we’ve heard a million times. Reena shared, “I’m so sick of hearing that I need to cover up my dark circles, even out my complexion, and get rid of acne scars. Makeup is so much more than that! To us, and to thousands of our customers, makeup is about self-expression. Makeup is about play, creativity, and being your authentic self. If I can spend some me-time in the morning to tap into my creativity and apply makeup that makes me feel powerful and confident, I’m set for the day. It’s more than just eyeshadow; it’s real empowerment.”
When you look at a Kailav palette, it’s pretty obvious what she means. Every Kailav palette is full of impactful colors that work together in a cohesive color story. They just make sense. Even if you aren’t someone who reaches for bright blue eyeshadow on the daily, the palettes contain wearable, yet unique shades that push you out of your comfort zone. The quality is exceptional. I was most impressed by the super pigmented shades that show up on all skin-tones. Forget ashy, boring neutrals. To top it off, every product is vegan and cruelty-free.
What is your favorite part of Kailav Beauty?
“My favorite part of my brand is the community aspect. We have so many brand evangelists that sincerely love our products and want to spread the word about our mission of creativity and confidence. Of course there are work days that absolutely drain me, but I can always pick myself back up by looking through our tagged photos on Instagram or reading emails from happy customers. Our community is one of a kind, full of talented, unique individuals being their authentic selves. We never airbrush our photos, and having relatable people representing our brand resonates with our audience.” THIS IS THE DIRECTION THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY NEEDS TO GO.
I’m sure that working with family comes with its own set of challenges, but Reena and Tara Bhikha of Kailav Beauty have figured it out. Sisters carry a unique bond, and in this case, it’s a bond shaped by summers taking art classes together and sharing makeup (that was sneakily “borrowed” from their mom). Reena and Tara both identify as truly creative at heart, but couldn’t find a makeup brand that really spoke to them. So, they created one.
I want to end this interview with a PSA to all parents – no matter how much your children may complain – TAKE THEM ON THAT FAMILY TRIP! You never know – they could come back with an entire business and brand created. That is the parenting lesson I’m taking from this story…..
If you want to try out any of the Kailav Beauty products, the sisters were generous enough to share a discount code with us! Code: Devi gets you 10% off your first purchase, sale items not included.