Shimul Niraula was introduced into the world of the beauty industry through her dad who was involved in the sector since 2005. Niraula went to Japan for further studies and returned to Nepal during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, she couldn’t go back to Japan as travel restrictions were enforced due to the pandemic. Niraula was then determined to make a foray into the Nepali beauty industry and launched Mishisa Cosmetics in 2020. In a conversation with Nepal Live Today, she shared that her motive to launch the store was to provide genuine branded products at a reasonable price. Excerpts:
Why are businesses dealing with authentic brands important in Nepal where the market is full of counterfeit products?
There are few businesses dealing with authentic products in Nepal. Being in an authorized business means you have a steady supply of products as well as a better profit margin and price uniformity. Foreign companies are more willing to work with authorized businesses which benefits both the consumer and the business owner. Selling through an authorized business helps remove a lot of the extra steps that contribute to higher prices for imported products.
What is the key thing to keep in mind while buying beauty and skincare products in Nepal?
Currently, the Nepali market is full of counterfeit products. There is a tendency of buying beauty products just because they saw someone else use them. That is slowly changing as more people are aware of beauty and skincare. There are also cases of people buying products believing them to be original which affects the person as well as the brand’s reputation. There are ways of recognizing whether a product is original or counterfeit, like scanning the barcode of the product, and people should be aware of this.
There are some stereotypes in Nepali beauty ideals, like preferring lighter skin. What should young Nepali women’s mindset be when it comes to these beauty standards?
I feel like the younger Nepali generation is more progressive when it comes to beauty ideals. Compared to the rest of the world, I feel like we Nepalis are heading towards a more open-minded way of thinking. I remember the skin whitening cream craze of the past, but nowadays I’ve been receiving customers asking for products to enhance what they already have. The more people are educated, the less they hold on to toxic beauty standards. So it is essential for young girls to know that beauty ideals are always changing, and they should embrace and enhance their existing features instead of trying to look like someone else.
What is the biggest issue being faced by the beauty industry of Nepal?
I feel like the Nepali beauty industry isn’t recognized in the same way as our neighboring countries because of our smaller presence internationally. The pathway for brands to enter the Nepali market isn’t satisfactory because of the less authorized presence of branded products.
Compared to the rest of the world, I feel like we Nepalis are heading towards a more open-minded way of thinking
There was even a recent ban on the import of luxury products which created many issues for businesses and consumers. Even after the ban was lifted, we have had to work on a letter of credit (LC) system.
How can we promote and support Nepali-owned brands?
In recent times, I’ve seen a lot of young Nepali entrepreneurs who have started successful brands of their own. The main issue they’re facing is the lack of raw materials. But they are still doing a great job despite the obstacles. The main thing they as well as any businesses or brands have to keep in mind is proper research and development. Also, there need to be good products at a reasonable price. If a young Nepali entrepreneur is willing to take initiative, there will always be people there to support homegrown talents.
There are many difficulties for young business people in order to break into the business space. What, if any, hurdles have you had to overcome as a young woman in this industry?
Personally, I’ve never faced difficulty due to my gender. However, since I studied business abroad, I have had difficulties navigating the business space in Nepal because of the differences between the Nepali and the international market. There are a lot of practices that I learned in theory, but the implementation in practical form was different than I thought. Starting up a business is hard regardless of who you are, but the most important thing is to never give up.
What are essential elements of customer care and convenience?
I would say having patience while dealing with consumers is a crucial part of owning and operating a business. Each customer can be vastly different in terms of attitude and thinking, and they all need to be dealt with accordingly. Regardless of how you’re feeling, you shouldn’t let your own issues affect how you interact with a customer. We need to ensure a pleasant experience so that clients revisit which would endorse the longevity of a business. That’s something we focus on here at Mishisa Cosmetics, we want to ensure a pleasant shopping experience so that consumers are incentivized to visit again.
What skincare or self-care products would you consider must-haves?
The main product that everyone needs to use daily is sunscreen. Dark spots, photoaging, and wrinkles are all exacerbated by the sun, so it is vital to invest in a good sunscreen and use it every day. Another product would be vitamin C, which is suitable for all skin types. It might not bring immediate results, but it is great for the long run. The one big recommendation is to keep your routine simple and consistent, as well as take care of your mental wellbeing. Your face will always reflect how you’re feeling, so it is essential to always take care of your mental health.
As an entrepreneur, what is your recommendation to other up-and-coming businesses in the beauty space?
The beauty and fashion industry are one of the fastest expanding industries in the world. If you have an interest or knowledge of the beauty industry, I would highly encourage getting into it. In Nepal, the market saturation hasn’t even reached its peak. If there was ever a time for Nepali beauty enthusiasts to take initiative and do something within the sector, it would be now. It’s a steadily climbing sector, and if you’re willing to work hard, you can achieve anything.