A Cosmetic Engineer’s Entrepreneurial Journey: Dolly Kumar Of GAIA

Published on 4 Apr 2016 . 7 min read

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Dolly Kumar began her career as an Assistant Manager and is now an entrepreneur and widely respected figure in the health and wellness industry. She has been instrumental in transforming numerous product lines like Colorbar into brands that women aspire for and eventually adopt. She achieved a new milestone in her career when she launched Gaia, the first health and wellness retail brand from the house of Cosmic Nutracos, her own entrepreneurial venture.

Gaia (the Greek name for the Goddess of the Earth) was born on the belief that nature, through its diversity of flora and fauna, present us the best solutions for all our health and wellness needs

She tells us her story today,

Tell us about yourself

Born in New Delhi, I completed my Bachelors of Technology in Cosmetic Engineering from Nagpur University. Having started my career as a management trainee, I soon found my calling when I got an opportunity to work as an Assistant Manager for Colorbar Cosmetics. 

With a dream to start one of India’s first health and wellness brand, I left my job to start GAIA in 2009. Since then, I have not only built my own health and wellness retail brand, but have also started manufacturing operations for the parent company, Cosmic Nutracos. Cosmic Nutracos deals in manufacturing and packaging of foods, health supplements and personal care products. We also do private labelling for many leading brands in the country. In addition to this, I am also heading Ancorroti India, Italy’s leading colour cosmetics manufacturing company in India which aims to tap the potential and ever-growing South Asian cosmetics market with innovative and superior product formulations.

At 43, I efficiently balance my time between career and family, shattering the myth that female entrepreneurs must sacrifice one for the other.

How did the idea of GAIA come about?

Interestingly, I got the inspiration for GAIA while meeting a middle-aged woman while travelling. The woman’s inability to feel good about herself and maintain a healthy life, despite substantial investments in lifestyle modification and appearances, sensitized me to the struggles of modern Indian women. I realized that true beauty comes from living a healthy and joyous life and soon GAIA was born.

From a business perspective, I along with my team also realized a huge future potential in India’s growing health and wellness industry. At that point of time, there was no brand in the Indian market that sold the promise of good health to the urban consumer. Since its inception, GAIA has been able to successfully formulate its products to cater to the growing health & wellness needs of the people.

When starting-up, what were your biggest challenges?

Obstacles and challenges are a part and parcel of life, especially when one is trying to break through an industry which is still at a very nascent stage. Nonetheless, the health and wellness industry has a huge potential for the future. It is only in the past 5 years that everyone has realized the importance of wellness. The obstacles lie in educating the consumer about taking care of themselves with GAIA products.

In this Industry, what does it take to stay on top of your competitors?

I credit the successful growth of my brand to the strong values I imbibed through work experience - a relentless focus on innovation, quality, passion for work, and people empathy. Further on, a focused perspective and an undiluted passion for work is also needed to rise to the top however, one should be a sensitive, flexible and democratic leader. Above all, one should always remain modest, retain practicality and simplicity in their work and display exemplary discipline and sincerity.

What differentiates GAIA from other health and wellness institutes?

We at GAIA believe that our brand is the only brand in India that is truly offering health and fitness to its consumers. Each product at GAIA nourishes the body in one way or another or rather, builds on one’s immunity, health and wellness in the long run. At GAIA, we believe that earth's diversity of flora and fauna, offers us the best solutions for all our health and personal care needs. Hence, we don’t sell just health; we sell the promise of good health to our consumers!

What future plans do you have for the company and yourself?

We wish to become urban India’s most consumed health and wellness brand; this is my dream for GAIA. I would also take GAIA Lite and GAIA Sport to the next level in the coming years.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

I reach office by 10 in the morning and it’s a roller coaster ride for me from there. I believe in being involved in every aspect of GAIA hence, my mornings see me interacting and engaging with the various departments such as – operations, sales, marketing, product development etc. where we discuss the future of GAIA and our products. Further on, I often take time out of my day to visit retail stores where I not only research about our competition but also, get a feel about GAIA’s position in the market. .This allows me to brainstorm new, innovative ideas which could make GAIA unique from others. With GAIA now taking on the e-commerce and digital world, I also find myself regularly interacting and working with various e-commerce platforms, PR and media houses where we come up with creative marketing ideas for GAIA.

As someone who finds exercising and meditation very therapeutic, I often take out 15-20 minutes in my day at work to meditate. This not only helps me feel energetic and refreshed but also, helps me get through a busy day.

Lastly, my day ends by meeting my core team where we discuss long-term business strategies for taking GAIA to newer heights!

When it comes to working women and entrepreneurship, what are your thoughts?

I strongly believe women entrepreneurs have an edge over men entrepreneurs. It’s because in a family it’s always a woman who manages household spending hence, she is better at understanding customer perspective. Women also tend to build stronger and long-lasting relationships when compared to men, this is a great asset since a business always works on the basis of trust...with employers, investors, vendors etc. Further on, being a woman I will always provide society with different and more unique solutions to management, operations and business problems.

Currently, women entrepreneurs in India constitute for only 10% of the total entrepreneurs in this nation. I believe that if business - minded women are given the right resources, guidance and time, India’s economy will soar to new heights. Nonetheless, women often face gender-based barriers which need to be recognized and removed from society.

As someone who is a woman entrepreneur and a mother, I believe I have not sacrificed my personal life for my professional and have give equal amounts of time and effort towards my family and my work. Against conventional thinking, I have gone ahead and proved (with GAIA) that women entrepreneurs are much needed in this country and that we can bring a balance in our lives.  

Dolly Kumar of GAIA
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