BARKHA SHEWAKRAMANI ON HER BEAUTY EMPIRE AND ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY
All the way from Dubai, we exclusively speak with makeup mogul and boss lady Barkha who is the brainchild of her makeup line ‘Barkha Beauty’. If owning a successful makeup brand wasn’t enough, she is the co-founder of ‘Powna Sake’, which is not only the world’s first ever sake made from Indian rice manufactured in Japan but also the only female owned brand. Sit back, relax and enjoy reading this interview…
Hello Barkha! We’re so happy to have you here and that too as our cover star! Before we dive in, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Firstly, thank you for honouring me as your cover star. I would surely not like to confine my identity to one thing and rather say I’m a woman, a mother, a proud home maker, entrepreneur and talk show host. I was born in India and my family moved to Dubai when I was 11-year-old. Been married for 18 years, have a beautiful 13-year-old son who is my miracle baby as I suffer from lupus (an autoimmune disease).
Dress: Alexander Vajthier; Shoes: Balanciaga
‘My search for the perfect nude matte lipstick led me to create my own brand.’
You are the brains behind your successful eponymous makeup brand ‘Barkha Beauty’. You launched in 2019 and a year later the pandemic hit, how did that affect your business?
I was lucky enough to have received a great response on my first collection itself and the online makeup app ‘Boutiqaat’ bought our entire collection. Post that, I got signed by Chalhoub, the biggest retailer in UAE, as our local representative. The pandemic surely affected our physical in-store sales especially during lockdown. Once we realized masks are the new normal we launched long-wear hydrating mask-proof lipsticks. Our online sales have boosted as people now feel safer shopping from the comfort of their homes.
What is your opinion on UAE’s beauty industry? Any plans on bringing ‘Barkha Beauty’ to Pakistan?
The beauty industry in UAE is highly competitive as women here are very aware of the current trends and absolutely love makeup. It’s a very influencer/social media dominated industry hence, most influencers have their own makeup line making it harder for us. I would love to launch it in Pakistan, hopefully soon.
What inspired you to start a beauty brand? What’s your biggest go-to makeup tip?
My search for the perfect nude matte lipstick led me to create my own brand. My biggest makeup tip to anyone would be the cliched ‘less is more’. Invest in a good concealer as that can help you create a flawless canvas for your face. Clean eyebrows, concealer, bronzer/blush and a nude lipstick is my everyday look.
Shirt Dress: Deese
You are the co-founder of ‘Powna Sake’, the world’s first ever sake made from Indian rice which is manufactured in Japan. Tell us a bit about this. How is it like working with another creative mind?
Not only is it the only sake to be made in Japan with Indian rice but it’s also the only female owned brand which I’m supremely proud of. I found the brewery interestingly on Ali Baba in the midst of the pandemic and did the entire deal online. In four weeks, the sample bottles were sitting on my desk thus, reminding us of what Jack Ma said ‘Everything is possible with the touch of a button’.
‘The beauty industry in UAE is highly competitive as women here are very aware of the current trends and absolutely love makeup.’
You also have your own talk show on YouTube called ‘In the House with Barkha’ where you interview some of the top celebrities. What made you take the leap and start this venture?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great close friends in the Hollywood industry. So, during lockdown while talking to some of them, I realize why not put their stories out there so the world can see. It’s not just us who are anxious, low or depressed at home dealing with the pandemic and it’s the celebs too who are just like us.
‘Barkha Beauty’, ‘Powna Sake’ and ‘In the House with Barkha’ – what is your secret to balancing the three and which one is hands down your favourite.
My passion to create new ideas and implementing them in life is what keeps me going. Asking me which is my favourite is like asking me to pick a favourite child - they are all unique in their own ways.
‘As we are a charity driven company, a huge percentage of our profits go towards educating the under privileged.’
Running three businesses, living in the middle of a pandemic and balancing your personal and professional life, what do you do to keep your mental health in check?
I’m truly blessed to have a supportive family who encourages me to keep following my passions. I’ve always been a firm believer in power of manifestation. Off late I’ve been studying books, listening to podcasts on quantum physics and spending quality time with my son and close friends is the secret to my sanity.
At this stage of your life, do you consider yourself successful? Do you think you’ve made it or are you still a work in progress?
Everyone measures success differently. To me I will consider myself successful the day I’ve made a difference and touched millions of lives. As we are a charity driven company, a huge percentage of our profits go towards educating the under privileged, medical bills for the needy etc. I will be a work in progress till the day I die.
What is the biggest hardship that comes with owning multiple businesses?
The biggest hardship of course, is the end of the year audit meeting. (Laughs) Jokes apart the hard truth of life is that every entrepreneur wants a certain level of growth and profit. With the pandemic and now the political situation between Russia VS Ukraine, we can’t control the outcome.
‘I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great close friends in the Hollywood industry. So, during lockdown while talking to some of them, I realize why not put their stories out there so the world can see.’
According to you, what sets you apart from your competitors?
My strength is my team. Having a strong co-working, reliable environment makes all the difference. My strength also lies in my ability to not sweat the small stuff.
One lesson you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t get dejected when people put you down or don’t believe you. The fire in your belly to prove people wrong is what will lead to your success.
What are your three main goals to achieve by the end of 2022?
To put ‘Barkha Beauty’ and ‘Powna Sake’ on the global map. To have my first ever celebrity chat show shot in Dubai. To feed 1 million meals to the under privileged.
‘Not only is it (Powna Sake) the only sake to be made in Japan with Indian rice but it’s also the only female owned brand which I’m supremely proud of.’
What’s next for Barkha Shewakramani?
My mother recently passed away because of cancer. I have launched a new make-up line in collaboration with the ‘Bigger Picture’, a charity initiative run by my close friend Vani. The aim is to financially support in helping treat cancer patients who are children. I want to keep my mom’s legacy alive.
INTERVIEW: SAFA ADNAN
PHOTOGRAPHER: NICOLETA BURU
HAIR & MAKEUP: KATHARINA BRENNAN
- Tags: Barkha