Minnila Muthukumar ‘24 found that finding quality skincare products, with minimal ingredients that worked, were coming up short. “I have always had sensitive skin so it was hard for me to find a product that worked that wouldn’t make my skin break out,” said Muthukumar. “So, I decided to do something about it. And just like that, Vie En Rose skincare was born. The phrase means life in pink, which is a beautiful and fitting representation of her product line.
She researched other small businesses to see how they started off and grew, what were the successes and the pitfalls. Next, she researched the best ways to obtain ingredients and tested them to see what formula would work best. Muthukumar opted to purchase her ingredients in bulk online and set up shop in her basement where she keeps products and fulfills orders. She tested the products on a variety of family members, including her cousin who was helping her get the business off of the ground. “Everything has been working really well and the way I hoped it would,” she said.
Muthukumar paid special thought and intention to each ingredient she did (or didn’t!) put into her skincare. She eliminates the preservatives found in many over-the-counter skincare products. Her feedback from customers has also been positive. They also appreciate that her products are organic and cruelty-free. “The preservatives in products are what people generally have a reaction to, and they can be harmful to your skin long term, and potentially even cause things like skin cancer,” Muthukumar explained. The result from her research, testing, and implementation was three different products she entered the market. They are body butter, sugar scrub, and a face mask.
Muthukumar explained, “The body butter is fully oil-based so you don't have to use preservatives. It is made of shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and almond oil. The nice thing about this is you can use different amounts to get the results you want depending on your skin type.” The sugar scrub is soap-based sugar and coconut oil, whipped together for a long time. The face mask comes in a powder form so it is a clay mask that is activated with water. “That way you don’t have to add any preservatives because there is no moisture,” said Muthukumar.
With so many moving parts, Muthukumar had to consider all facets of getting the products into customers' hands, including the seemingly small but large items of things like packaging. “Many small businesses have very pretty packaging but with that comes a price. I wanted to make everything affordable so I kept it very simple. I think it fits well with my brand image.”
She also had to consider cost. One goal in launching the products was to ensure that the products were affordable and in line with others on the market. Her four-ounce sugar scrub retails for $11.99 and the eight-ounce for $14.99. Her two-ounce trial size face mask lasts between eight-10 uses and sells for $8.99 and the three-ounce is $8.99.
In addition to the overwhelming tasks that come with opening a business and getting it off of the ground, Muthukumar also had to navigate the long and, as she describes, tedious process of getting business licenses, permits, and insurance. “It was exhausting but I learned a lot from that,” said Muthukumar. “My mom helped me navigate the process, and taught me how to file taxes,” she said. Safe to say taxes are a reality of life that is less than exciting but certainly essential.
Since she started selling her skincare line, Muthukumar launched a website - vie-en-rose.square.site, and expanded into Instagram (vieenrose.skincare) and TikTok (vieenrose.skincare). She has also started selling the products at local farmers' markets in Glastonbury where she lives.
“I have always wanted to do something unique that not everyone was doing,” said Muthukumar. Her parents have been very supportive of the idea. “When I introduced the idea they were optimistic. They encouraged me to try it out and if it worked it worked, and if it didn’t then at least I could say that I tried.”
In addition to her parents, Muthukumar credits her teachers for the support they have provided throughout this endeavor. “KO has definitely helped, and my teachers are always willing to give help or assistance. My experience through KO has given me the confidence to do what I want to do, and also the time management necessary to be successful both in school and running a business.
So what is next for Muthukumar? Her goal is to release a gift basket for the holidays. She also said there have been a lot of inquiries about her creating a lip balm. One thing is for sure….there is no stopping this motivated and talented young entrepreneur. Up, up and away!