There’s a new South Asian beauty brand in town and you aren’t likely to forget them anytime soon. Delectably vibrant in democratizing the joy of beauty is ‘Kulfi Beauty’, a brand that stands to empower the south Asian community through representation by giving it the global platform it deserves.
Serving a seamless blend of culture and beauty, Kulfi derives its name from the delicious South Asian ice cream and paints a picture of cultural nostalgia and shared identity. A delightful formulation similar to the milky treat we all love, Kulfi’s founder Priyanka Ganjoo wants our beauty routines “...to capture a playful essence and carefree joy often associated with early memories of sharing an icy treat with our best mates.”
Ganjoo’s personal experience with makeup truly began when she started working in the beauty sector and was only met with tokenized branding and performative gestures by brands under the guise of ‘representation’. The visionary creator decided to launch ‘kulfi Beauty’, a manifestation of beauty beyond barriers emboldening the South Asian idea of beauty through products that are culturally rooted and serve a diverse range of skin tones.
Exploring innovative labels carving their own niche in a predominantly white beauty space, Homegrown got up close and personal with Kulfi’s creatives to understand how impactful representation and thoughtfully designed products are shaping the beauty world.
Could you start off by shedding light on what beauty means to you?
Growing up, I didn’t feel beautiful. I always thought it was my individual experience, but as I spoke to thousands of South Asian women in the process of building Kulfi, I realized I was not alone. The eurocentric, patriarchal view of beauty that is forced on us from the moment we are born has made us feel this way. The ideal of being light-skinned, thin, and obedient is portrayed in the media and reinforced by everyday conversations that are normalized in our culture.
Beauty, to me, is storytelling; it’s what we tell ourselves and others about what is beautiful. With Kulfi, I want to share stories that celebrate our individual beauty, that are told by us, for us. By amplifying alternative narratives, we can create a world where more of us see ourselves in beauty.
Indian identity and our overall perceptions of beauty have typically been shaped by western, Eurocentric ideals of beauty. Do you think it’s important to reclaim this space and embrace the natural beauty of our South Asian features and aesthetical ideals? In what ways has the brand attempted to challenge conventional beauty standards?
It’s taken me decades to unlearn Eurocentric ideals of beauty. I hope future generations can experience pride in our features, our skin tones, our bodies, and our cultures.
Our Kajal campaign images have redefined ‘aspirational beauty’ for me: just look at our models Sarennya, Bethany, and Eyesmin! Our blog, Kulfi Bites, has hundreds of stories written by South Asian people that acknowledge and celebrate their beauty and wellness journeys. Our recent creator campaign, Feeling Seen, amplifies diverse creators who are building their own communities. As we grow the brand, I hope we can share millions of these stories that challenge norms and celebrate our self-expression.
Could you elaborate on how your label empowers and engages with South Asian beauty practices?
Our launch campaign, ‘Nazar No More’, pays homage to the cultural practice of using kajal to ward off the evil eye or nazar. We expand that experience by using kajal for more than that — as a way to express ourselves and express our beauty with our bold, colorful kajals. The creaminess and high colour payoff of the formula is inspired by traditional kajals that were made by burning almond oil and mixing the soot with castor oil or ghee.
HG: As a woman of colour in the beauty industry, what advice would you give to young girls who might be struggling with their identities and beauty standards in this age of social media?
Give yourself grace. I’ve struggled with feeling inadequate, despite knowing better. There are billions of dollars being poured into the industry to make you feel that way, so be kind to yourself and your journey towards self-love.
Surround yourself with positive affirming messages and community. Follow and connect with people who share their uplifting journeys. This has been the biggest boost for my self-confidence, in beauty and entrepreneurship. Draw boundaries: online and offline and remember to tune out the naysayers as you pave your own ideas of beauty and self-expression.
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