Introducing you to Dhruv Sayani, who built Ccigmaa Lifestyle Pvt. with the legacy of his family’s 50-year-old business. India’s leading manufacturer, marketer, and distributor of Haircare, skincare, and personal care products. To provide solutions, he has constantly developed initiatives that contribute to the development of the industry.
In 2016, Ccigmaa Lifestyle launched KT Professional. The KT professional brand presently operates across 27 states of India, 86 cities, and 27000 plus salons, 150+ beauty stores, and 18+ online platforms. KT Professional’s distribution and manufacturing businesses have been expanding each year with the expertise of Dhruv Sayani.
A brand that offers a wide array of hair care products with excellent quality, a brand that provides chemical, sulphate-free, paraben-free, and vegan products that are not tested on animals. Currently, the brand offers 120 products.
Dhruv’s vision for Beauty Skills Academy is to create a difference in Maharashtra’s unorganized beauty education industry. Offering an all-inclusive international curriculum from the UK, Beauty Skills Academy provides a wide range of courses in Hair, Skin, Nail, Make-up, and Aesthetics for novice and skilled professionals alike, also providing level-based skill courses in association with Open Study College, UK and Gatehouse Awards, UK.
Let’s look into the interview Inventiva had with Dhruv Sayani about him and his company:
INVENTIVA: What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
DHRUV: Our company is Ccigmaa Lifestyles Pvt Ltd; our brand is called KT Professional, which stands for Kehairtherapy Professional. Kehair means Keratin for Hair, the most critical protein for our hair. Our company and the centre of its product on infusing keratin protein in the hair and our natural ingredients to solve different hair challenges.
INVENTIVA: Who is your target Audience/clients?
DHRUV: We are a B2B and a D2C brand. We have over 100+ products under our brand KT Professional. We have some exclusive hair treatments like hair botox and cysteine protein for in-salon services, which we provide to over 27000+ salons in India. We also have a vast post-care range which includes shampoos, conditioners, and serums hair masques for retail use that we supply to 150+ beauty stores and 18+ eCommerce platforms for our D2C vertical.
INVENTIVA: Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
DHRUV: KT Professional is based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Our presence is currently in 27 states and 86 cities throughout the country. In India, water and weather climate changes every 100 km, and our products are designed with technology and ingredients, keeping this in mind making our product unique across India. We also plan to export our products across 50+ countries in the next two years.
INVENTIVA: What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
DHRUV: Our group company has 50 years of experience in Haircare; we manufacture hair care accessories that we export to 75 countries for the past 28 years and have been winning Awards from the Government of India for 28 continuous years for the highest exports. We have a deep-rooted knowledge in this industry that helps us translate it into unique products focused on hair care solutions.
Chemical-free smoothening and straightening treatments are rare, but KT Professional is one of the few that give you the result you are looking for with a key focus on the single most important protein for your hair – Keratin.
Along with products for in-salon use, KT Professional has over 100+ SKUs for retail use, including shampoos and conditioners for different hair types. Our products have unique hair care ingredients such as Coffee Bean, Avocado, Charcoal, Peppermint, Strawberry, Blueberry, Green Tea, Moroccan Mint, along with quality-driven by Cruelty-Free, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sodium Chloride Free, Sulphate Free, Hard water Safe blends to help clients maintain their frizz-free results.
INVENTIVA: Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to existence? What motivated you to start your venture?
DHRUV: With my study in the Indian hair care industry, I came across many hair challenges that were only addressed by imported Haircare products in India. When we started KT Professional, we were keen to tap the quality-conscious users with result-oriented products at the right price. I couldn’t find a good shampoo or conditioner that would address the specific need, the products in the market would largely cater only to hair moisture, hair volume, and colour protection. The more specific hair challenges would be termed as medicated shampoos & conditioners.
This made us study the market deeper to realize that the Indian consumers in both Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 could be provided with high-quality hair care products at the right price with the increased access to digital marketing, information, and the growing demand for chemical-free and safe products.
This was when the entire venture for KT Professional came together to provide both salons and individual users with keratin protein focus products with natural ingredients to solve 18 different hair challenges along with the products being sulphate free, paraben-free, sodium chloride free, not tested on animals and is 100% vegan!
The key motivator is the ever-evolving Indian consumer market with unique water and weather conditions every 100 km making it more interesting for our brand to tap the key problem of every city and state and offer them a long term solution to their hair challenges with a variety of KT Professional products at the salon use level and the home care level.
INVENTIVA: Who are your biggest competitors, and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
DHRUV: We do not have any other brand in India that focuses on an entire product profile on Keratin’s most essential protein for hair. Most of the brands have one or two keratin protein-based products and maybe just a hand full of chemical-free aftercare products.
KT Professional is currently the only Indian homegrown brand in India that has over 36+ products exclusively for Salon Use salon services and over 63+ products for direct consumer use for home care.
INVENTIVA: How did you hire your first team members? What skills do you want in your employees/team?
DHRUV: The first set of team members was selected purely on three golden principles – a commitment to the brand, passion for growing the business & learning, change and adapt. It was also essential to have a young and enthusiastic first team as they were the foundations of the brand; I am happy to share that all our first set of 21 team members are still with the brand, along with 150+ new members that are now a part of KT Professional’s vision.
The skills we look for in any employee or team member are their experience in new age technology, willingness to learn and adapt, and lastly, to not consider this as a job/ role but more as a mission to grow the brand with new ideas and innovations to reach out to more consumers. We recruit many employees with technical hair skill knowledge as we conduct various workshops, seminars, and direct salon demos to educate the hairstylist across the country on the benefits of using KT Professional products.
INVENTIVA: What expansion plans are you looking for for the next two years, the next five years?
DHRUV: With covid, we have had two slow years of 2020 and 2021. Therefore, the next two years are purely on brand growth with increased revenues with our foray into hair tools and types of equipment such as blow dryers and hair irons alongside our exclusive skincare range that we plan to start by mid of this year. In 2022 & 2023, we want to expand our sales to over 180 + cities in India. In the next five years, we would be keen to cement our position in 50+ countries where we plan to start exports of KT Professional from this year onwards.
INVENTIVA: Where do you want to see yourself in the next ten years?
DHRUV: I want to inspire millions of minds in 10 years and would like to see myself supporting young talent with new ideas and continuing the endeavour to create more jobs in my company.
INVENTIVA: What are your immediate goals over the next 1, 3, 6, and 12 months?
DHRUV: The immediate goal is to launch our unique hair tools and hair equipment range along with our exclusive skincare products.
INVENTIVA: Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
DHRUV: We have not raised any funding, but we would be open to VC Funding discussions to expand our operations this year.
INVENTIVA: What were the problems you faced during the starting days, and how did you resolve them?
DHRUV: It would be incorrect to term the starting days as a problem field, it is imperative to have the right approach, and most importantly, you have to enjoy your work! So I have never looked at anything as a problem from the starting days to now, it’s all a part of the learning curve, and if you are passionate about what you do, then the solutions and ideas flow.
INVENTIVA: What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
DHRUV: Challenges are exciting as they teach you something new. There surely can be many challenges in a diverse country like India with 130 Crore people, from marketing to outreach to logistics to language to changing consumer behaviour and buying patterns. But again, you can only overcome challenges with your approach; it is essential to be accessible to your team members. It is crucial to be approachable simultaneously, and it is necessary to be aware of the realities.
INVENTIVA: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
DHRUV: I am an ardent believer in giving back to society, so in my nonworking time, I spend a lot of time on my NGO- Mumbai We Care, founded in 2020. Under my NGO, we have vaccinated over 1,50,000 needy people free of cost during Covid-19. We constantly support causes such as educating underprivileged girls, menstrual hygiene for the underprivileged, healthcare, and sustaining environmental changes for Mumbai and Maharashtra.
INVENTIVA: Who do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
DHRUV: My biggest motivator is the infectious energy of the youth of India; 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25. This is the time for the India Story – the country is buzzing with new business, entrepreneurship is at its highest than ever seen, and it is only going to increase further. This is an exciting and motivating India to be in with so many innovative ideas, young people, startups and budding young talent.
INVENTIVA: How This Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the way you look at the world? How it has impacted your business, and what steps you had taken to overcome the hurdles?
DHRUV: Covid -19 has brought the world closer digitally, ways of working have changed, digital efficiencies have increased, and consumer buying pattern has also changed. KT professional offers a lot of home care products that give you a salon-ready look and help you with all your choices at your convenience. The impact in 2020 was large across the salon sector, but our D2C presence helped us keep our revenues flowing during 2020 and 2021; since then, the industry has bounced back to higher numbers than Pre Covid.
INVENTIVA: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
DHRUV: The people in their early 20s starting their career today have access to way more information, technologies, and newer and faster ways of working than what we had ten years ago. The exposure to digital marketing, VC funding, faster growth, global access, and government support schemes are far more than a decade ago. If I were to start my career today, the only thing I would have differently is to make correct use of this at an earlier stage of the business, which would help it grow faster.
INVENTIVA: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
DHRUV: It hasn’t. I believe in a work-life balance; it is important for your well-being and for being an effective leader. When you spend time with your family and friends or even when you interact with people socially, there is so much you learn from others which can be very helpful for your business. It’s always essential to be open to learning and adapting.
INVENTIVA: Anything you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
DHRUV: It’s a golden time in India now. As mentioned earlier, the access and opportunities available today are priceless; make the most of it and follow your passion- it’s only if you follow your passion will you be able to create a great business idea!
INVENTIVA: Tell us something about your education & family background.
DHRUV: My family has been in the business of Haircare accessed for the last 50 years, so I was born and raised in a family business environment that I am thankful for. It has given me some of the lives best learning experiences at a very early age. I am born in Mumbai, with my schooling at Campion School, higher education with a Bachelors in Accounting and Finance from HR College, and further education with a Master in Accounting, Accountability & Finance from King’s College London.
I worked with an international pharmaceutical company, an international energy drink company, and the education sector before joining the business. I was very keen to learn and gain work experience in different sectors before settling sail with our business.
INVENTIVA: What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other startups in similar domains.
DHRUV: The USP of our product is purely our formulation, our understanding of the global and Indian hair care market for the last 50 years, and our quest to provide unique natural ingredients to solve 18+ hair challenges at the right prices!
INVENTIVA: What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Startups today?
DHRUV: The only threat to the success of a small business or a startup is the early sense of fulfilment! Any small business that feels it has found its feet in the first three years of business which stops them from exploring or innovating, pulls them down in the long race.
INVENTIVA: Do you consider yourself successful, and by what means do you measure success?
DHRUV: As famously said by the Joyce Brothers, Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as successful. Attaining success through challenges makes life interesting; overcoming challenges makes life meaningful.