South Asian representation in the beauty industry has been on the rise, and one of the brands at the forefront of the movement is Kulfi Beauty.
Kulfi is a vegan, cruelty free makeup brand that launched in February this year, celebrating South Asian beauty in all of its shades, sizes, and tones.
“We see you. We are a loud and proud South Asian voice. We represent and speak up, through our products, our storytelling, and our actions. Your story is our story and we're here to share it," says the company's founder on the website.
Priyanka Ganjoo created Kulfi Beauty with one motive: to empower and represent South Asians across the globe.
She has been working in the beauty industry for several years, helping to grow both indie and established brands, but one thing she says she never saw was herself in the industry she worked in.
“I rarely saw South Asians represented in the forefront,” says Ganjoo on the company's website.
“I always felt like an outsider. Finally, I said to myself, this isn’t good enough. So I left the world of corporate beauty and started Kulfi.”
Kulfi Beauty launched with a set of eyeliners, also known as kajal, in five different earthy shades, and has since evolved to a range of products created for a diverse range of people.
“If you look up the cultural factors of kajal, it’ll say it works to ward off the evil eye,” she says. “But we think kajal can be used for more than that, it is a way to express ourselves and express our beauty,” says Ganjoo on the site.
Each kajal is packaged in a box that reads “Nazar No More.” This implies that a nazar, a protective amulet, is no longer needed given that each person is able to “define beauty through their own gaze.”
Aside from beautiful packaging and a range of products, the company also tries to reclaim South Asian beauty trends, and cater to South Asian people, with diverse shade and product choices: for us, by us.
“For years, I kept waiting for a brand that celebrated and centered us South Asians in its narrative. All I found were brands that tokenized and appropriated our culture, without even creating shades that worked for our skin tones!”
Many South Asian people can relate to the issue of not being able to find the right shade in a product they want, or to find products that enhance their features, rather than trying to hide them.
Kulfi beauty not only tackles issues of representation, but also gives back to the community.
“Self-expression is closely tied to mental health. We donate to mental health organizations that serve the unique challenges faced by our communities.”
Now, Kulfi is not just a sweet South Asian delicacy, but also a brand that emanates the beauty and strength of its community, all while helping us look cute while doing.
“It is the result of my journey rediscovering the joy in makeup for myself and reclaiming my beauty for myself. It is an ode to the girl growing up in Delhi spending summers eating kulfi and to the woman I am today.”
Reclaiming beauty for ourselves? That's a message I can get behind.
About the author: Manisha is a freelance writer with experience on both radio and television, who is also the former titleholder of Miss Fiji Canada 2017. She is an artist, poet, and an SFU alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. Manisha is the creator of the platform Bula Mental Health which is dedicated to bridging the gap between history, current events, and overall well-being. Check her out on Instagram: @exclusivelymanisha