40UNDER 40

Nykaa’s NextGen Cast

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Adwaita Nayar, Anchit Nayar, 

CEO, Nykaa Fashion; CEO, Nykaa (beauty e-commerce)
age: 31, 31
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When investment banker-turned-entrepreneur Falguni Nayar was building her beauty retail start-up Nykaa in 2013, her biggest pillar of strength was her daughter, Adwaita. Just out of college, Adwaita had started working with Bain & Company when her mother told her about her plan to launch an ecommerce beauty platform. “I found it exciting and wanted to be part of the journey. I came back to India,” says Adwaita Nayar, CEO, Nykaa Fashion.
While Falguni Nayar’s decades of investment banking prowess came in handy, Adwaita brought to the table the understanding of the millennial consumer and digital marketing skills. “Millennial and Gen-Z consumers want companies to stand for values and personality traits. We have always tried to position Nykaa as a brand which has emotional values, be it women empowerment, gender diversity or creating no-judgement zones,” says Adwaita, who believes her greatest contribution is to position Nykaa as a trendy, young, millennial brand.
In FY21, Nykaa generated revenue of `2,453 crore. The beauty and fashion company, which earns over 95% revenue online (65% of which comes from Tier-II and Tier-III cities), also has 10 private brands in fashion and beauty, which generate 30%-plus margins. The company also has 96 Nykaa beauty stores. The fashion business follows a pure ecommerce marketplace strategy. The products are contract manufactured.
After a stellar stock market debut (stock was subscribed by 80 times), Nykaa’s profits fell 59% to `28 crore in Q3 of FY22, largely due to disruptions caused by the third wave of Covid-19.
Adwaita, apart from helping her mother build a robust digital business, also set up brick-and-mortar stores until her brother Anchit decided to quit his job as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in the U.S. and take charge of that part of the business in 2017. “My experience at Morgan Stanley helped me build a first-class business,” says Anchit Nayar, CEO, beauty e-commerce, Nykaa.
During the IPO, the company’s fashion business had received a fair bit of criticism from the investor community, which felt it was a me-too of incumbents such as Myntra and Ajio. Adwaita differs. “In fashion, most players are discount-driven and focused on mass. We saw an opportunity to build a curated, premium, trend-driven brand,” she says.
Adwaita emphasises on Nykaa’s commitment to sustainability. “We have already started using good-for-you ingredients and are paying attention to sustainable packaging.”