3 Reflections on Launching Kulfi In-Store at Sephora
January 14, 2024
Nurturing the magic that got us our start, while growing a business.
By Priyanka Ganjoo, edited by Samia Abbasi
We can finally say it: This year, Kulfi has launched in-store at 340 Sephora stores in the U.S. and Canada! It’s such a “pinch me” feeling to know that our community can touch and experience Kulfi in-person. To find their right concealer shade match before buying or stumble on something they didn’t know they’ll love (cue: chartreuse eyeshadow!).
In this Kulfi Bite (we missed you!), we’re catching you up on the reflections and questions we’ve had while growing Kulfi to what it is today: a welcoming space for joy & self-expression in beauty.
I. Can we take creative risks?
In our ideation stage in 2019, Kulfi was a passion project. Everyone involved wanted to see a beauty brand that showcased beauty from our lens. From the infinite iterations of the kajal formula, to the now iconic image of Sarennya from our first campaign, we went all-in on the creative process. We had an exhilarating time – including all the risks, lessons we learned, and moments of redirection along the way. It was also when we started creating the essence, the invisible magic, of our brand.
Now, we often get asked: how do you decide what to launch next? Our products come from a place of curiosity and honoring our community’s needs. But as we grow,
We feel the tension between creative expression and commercial viability.
It shows up in the big questions when we chat with retailers or investors: “what’s your roadmap?” And our daily decisions: “do we launch the shade we fell in love with but exceeds our budget?”
Delivering on the business-side of the brand relies on the mechanization of creativity. At the same time, I wonder: How do we continue to take creative risks? Whatever it is, it can’t be possible without my team and their dedication to bringing Kulfi to life in all its shades.
II. 90% hard work, 10% magic.
I have a Notes app Note with this phrase written down: “90% hard work and 10% magic.” You have to show up and go through the hard work, but you also have to retain the Magic. It’s that intangible thing that’s working about your brand. You can’t turn the Magic into a formula and replicate it. It’s not found in any one thing – like the vibrant colors or fun names of our products.
The Magic is an invisible source that keeps us connected to our ‘why’ as a brand.
It shows on the outside when people see something and say, “Ah, this is so Kulfi!”
How do you continue to cultivate your magic and retain it as you grow? There’s no single answer to this, just moments along the way that keep us going.
Here’s an experience I will always carry with me: During our New York and Dallas, TX Sephora pop-ups, multiple Sephora store employees came up to me and chatted with me. Not only did they express their excitement for the brand and products, they also shared that Kulfi’s journey has inspired them to start their own brands or grow their careers. That meant a lot to me!
III. Creating an arrival point for our community.
Kulfi is a safe space for our community to come as they are and have fun with self-expression. So, we wanted our new Heirloom Lipstick to embody that feeling of Kulfi as a home: comfort, nostalgia, joy, and familiarity.
It’s a safe space for me, too. Being an immigrant and third culture kid, I don’t feel like I’m rooted to someplace tangible. When you’re tied to a place where generations of your family lived, it can sometimes define your identity or influence your way of experiencing the world. Growing up, I didn’t really have that. Throughout my life, I’ve lived in new places, started a company, and tried new things.
In a way, we’ve built Kulfi as an arrival point that reflects this fluidity of identity and being. To tell you: You don’t need to worry about fitting in or looking a certain way to be part of a community.
You’ve already arrived. Let’s nurture the magic together.
Find us at a Sephora near you, using our in-store locator!