When we think of the cosmetic and beauty industry, we can only think of women. But when it comes to management, we can only think of men. But, here we have Shikhee Agrawal, AVP, of Kiehl’s who comes with an experience of about 19 years of cross-functional exposure in Beauty, FMCG, Media, and Fashion. Shikhee is a veteran in the field of beauty and has shepherded the growth of many projects from conception to completion and was instrumental in enhancing the brand’s recruitment and driving new business growth opportunities.
Shikhee’s deep belief in partnerships and community, along with an understanding of contemporary skincare products both within India as well as globally, are evident with an exceptional list of trainers alike all bringing their specific practice and insights into the brand. Her expertise is in handling a large group of trainers with more than 1000 retail populations across South Asia– onboarding and mentoring them. Her vision is to take the brand she works for to newer heights by keeping in mind the five vital parameters; leadership and content development, customer acquisition, sales programs, and the general vision of the organization.
She has previously worked with L’Oreal’s Active Cosmetics Division and has been actively involved in transforming the skincare as a category leader across all brands that she has worked on. She is passionate about altering the skincare ecosystem and this is one of the strongest reasons behind joining the organization. She believes that when a person follows his/her heart, the work can be appreciated for generations.
Besides applying her business acumen to the brand, Shikhee’s other passions include traveling, trekking with a special interest in the Himalayas, car and bike rallying. Here are a few excerpts with Shikhee.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Adventurous. I am an avid traveler, trekker, and car and bike rally enthusiast. All these experiences find a place in stories that I share in my coaching and leadership programs
What’s your superpower… or spirit animal?
Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
Having grown up in cross-cultural setup and witnessing the power that women behold in the matrilineal society in the northeast, leading from the forefront was engrained in me. The brands that I have worked with reflect my personality and are the reason for my association with them where I contributed to causes related to women’s welfare, empowerment, and education, cruelty against the animals, social responsibility, environmental issues, and bio-diversity. Over my two decades of corporate exposure have managed vast teams across geography and varying demography, countries, and culture have been both the biggest challenge and success. I have evangelized skincare and beauty in the cosmetic industry through the skincare brands that I have been associated with, over my career.
Can you tell me about your failures?
I would not term it as my failure but my inability to enable to empower the female workforce in rural India where 80 percent of the workforce resides. However, I have always collaborated with organizations working closely with the underprivileged bunch of females who have been deprived of education and have given work opportunities to them. Moreover, have encouraged the workforce willing to move over to cities and helped them with job opportunities to let them explore a new dimension to their life.
How are natural ingredients bringing a change in the beauty industry?
Companies and customers are heading towards a more organic lifestyle; the consumption of organic products is rapidly increasing be it in food habits or skincare regimes. The industry is evolving and has witnessed tremendous growth. Even new ranges of organic/natural products are coming into the picture. These products are successfully meeting sustainable beauty criteria. The brand I work with sources some of nature’s most efficacious ingredients to help create formulas that are effective, yet suitable for all types of skin. Many of our products are formulated to include naturally-derived ingredients. Today, 95% of Kiehl’s formulas contain at least one natural or natural origin raw material.
What are the latest trends in the skincare industry?
Brands are on a transformation spree and sustainability is the buzzword that most are working upon as consumers now are eco-conscious and are as concerned about their skin as the environment. Single-dose skincare capsules are yet another innovation especially for potent ingredients as Vitamin C and Retinol which are answers to many of the key common concerns that people have like premature aging, uneven skin tone, and dullness.
Do you believe in the new trend of homemade products?
Yes, homemade products are great as they’re customized according to the needs of our skin fitting the bill perfectly without any added color, fragrance or chemicals. We know what exactly is going on our skin and since its all-natural, the same not suiting our skin or giving us reactions has a way less probability. But along every pro comes certain con as well. Not only do these homemade products take a long course to show their results but also have a shorter shelf life which leads to pre-preparing these recipes time and again.
It is summer, any beauty and hair routine we need to follow?
Tip 1: Use a gentle daily cleanser day & night to make sure your skin remains clean but not dehydrate
Tip 2: Prep your skin with toner for faster skincare absorption
Tip 3: Use a Vitamin C serum to brighten your skin and reduce the dark spots/freckles
Tip 4: Hydrate your skin with a gel-type moisturizer to keep your skin’s hydration level balanced
Tip 5: Always use a sunscreen during the daytime, even if you’re just staying indoors
What’s with Matcha these days?
Matcha usage in skincare is not only a great agent that keeps our skin fresh and healthy but also reduces the inflammation, redness, and blotchiness. It’s a product that gives our skin a new life and helps to purify and reducing pores. This potent is used in various ways in our skincare like a face mask, toner, soaps and more.
Kiehl’s does not have a brand ambassador, why?
Kiehl’s believes that our products and our people are our ambassadors as they speak for themselves and resonate with the brand.
What is Kiehl’s responsibility towards society?
Corporate Social Responsibility is a growing trend across the globe. Companies are getting more involved in philanthropic work and this shows more loyalty to a business that enables them to contribute to solving social and environmental problems. True to Kiehl’s mission, the brand makes it a priority to support community causes with a focus on children’s well-being, environmental awareness, and HIV/AIDS research. Over the years, we have donated over $15 million to community causes around the world.
How eco-friendly is Kiehl’s?
Statistics share a clear record which states, 70% of plastic waste generated by the consumer product goods including personal care and beauty products is not recycled. It ends up collecting hazardous waste but there is a positive ray which has been witnessed lately and it’s efficacious that government regulations are also taken into consideration by the companies and they are working on sustainable packaging. We proudly say Kiehl’s is also being sustainably responsible, with the minimal usage of plastic and design its packaging to help avoid waste in addition to using post-consumer recycled materials at its primary manufacturing plant.
Since 2005, our brand has reduced
C02 Emissions by 82%
Water Consumption by 21%
Waste Generation by 36%
By 2020, we have committed to reducing C02 emissions, water consumption and waste generation at our manufacturing plant in the U.S. by 60%.
We use post-consumer recycled materials whenever possible, and all our stores reuse and recycle. We encourage its patrons to do the same and recycle their empties through its Recycle & Be Rewarded program.
My brand works hand-in-hand with farmers and producers to source its ingredients in a way that’s beneficial to their communities and the planet.
What are your plans for Kiehl’s as an AVP?
As a brand, we believe in consolidating and maintaining our brand philosophy while ensuring that brand ethics is secured. We are looking at amplifying our footprints in digital space and reaching out to our consumers in wider geography and continue to position ourselves as No 1 skincare brand in the luxury beauty industry.
Also, Shikhee is seeking for a residency to coincide with the varying scenarios in skincare space and nurture more programming focused on encouraging a new breed of natural ingredients products. She thrives to create a communicating space that serves consumers as well as a free-spirited culture that breeds innovations. Her entrancing personality, skill, and knowledge support the brand to elevate at greater heights.