For Akash Mehta, Ayurvedic beauty is a family business.
Growing up in a British-Indian household, Mehta interacted with Ayurveda, an alternative medicine system with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent, through his mother and grandparents. Meanwhile, his father worked in the beauty industry as a fragrance entrepreneur. Despite not initially planning to work in beauty, Mehta now sees the value in his exposure to the industry through his father. In early 2020, Mehta launched Fable & Mane, an Ayurvedic-inspired hair-care brand, with his sister Nikita Mehta. It debuted out of SOS Beauty, an incubator behind brands like Summer Fridays, Ouai, Patrick Ta Beauty and Shani Darden Skincare.
Fable & Mane sells shampoo, conditioner, an oil mist and a scalp scrub, among other products. Products are priced $16-$49 and sold through Sephora and Fable & Mane’s e-commerce site.
“At the same time [of our launch], there was no representation in the industry like us. We went to Sephora, and there was no Ayurvedic hair brand,” Mehta said. “With Ayurveda products, [the issue] is that they smell. But we’re all busy and going out, so I wanted [to introduce] something that smells great and performs.”
On the latest episode of the Glossy Podcast, Mehta, CEO of Fable & Mane, spoke with Priya Rao about building the brand, unexpected viral moments on TikTok, plans for 2023, and the brand potential within the buzzy and booming hair space.
The below excerpts have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
On going viral
“We’ve been viral a few times on social media and TikTok, and all of those times have not involved paid [content]. But they have been a part of some form of a partnership, like where we have gifted products. One good tip I have is to try to avoid ads and the “partner” hashtag. A smarter way to work with creators is to [have deliverables like] posting a few times in a couple of months. But at the same time, tell them you love organic posting and will always send products. The first viral post was so funny. … We didn’t even have a TikTok page, and we weren’t even tagged properly. That taught me the most, including: Don’t overdo it, and let the creator decide. It would have been nice to have at least had an account at that time.”
Creating a hero product
“Our [HoliRoots] hair oil is our hero product and represents nearly 60% of our product portfolio sales. Having a hero item is always a good thing to celebrate. Often in retail, they will say, ‘You don’t want to have one [hero product].’ But, no, it’s a good thing, because it means you’ve made a timeless item people will always come to, and then they’ll eventually shop around the ritual. … We’ve solidly focused on the pre-wash and the wash products. But what about post-wash? We need to think about that. Our community, team and retail [partners] led and encouraged that. We are launching a post-wash oil in January , which will be a big entry-level launch into our new styling range.”
On investing or selling the brand
“The [big question] is, ‘When do we do the first raise?’ I’ve spoken to every VC/PE and conglomerate in the market. They have reached out left, right and center from the inception and we’ve always facilitated a call to make friendships and relationships. We will probably need to raise some money by the end of 2022 or in 2023 or 2024. That would be the first step. I have so much left to do with this brand. I’m only 29, so I still have so much to learn and grow and do. [Selling the brand] wouldn’t be until five or six years. I’ve spoken to founders who have sold the company and ended up creating a second one because they may have sold it too early or saw it not represented the right way.”