For Pritika Swarup – Model, Entrepreneur and Founder & CEO of Prakti Beauty – the lack of India-inspired brands in the global market makes no sense. She believes there is a genuine curiosity and interest in the West about Indian skincare. So, to try and fill this gap, she launched Prakti Beauty. The Ameri-Vedic Beauty brand integrates Ayurvedic ingredients and Indian remedies with modern, luxurious textures. In addition to a flourishing modelling career, which includes campaigns for MAC Cosmetics, Prabal Gurung, Clinique, and Fenty Beauty, Pritika’s foray into the skincare world is both timely and necessary.
Pritika believes that perfection is not the goal with skincare. Feeling comfortable and confident in your skin is the goal. A philosophy she infused into her products as well. Read on know what she hopes to achieve with the brand on a global scale.
ELLE: Give us an insight into your childhood and early beginnings.
PRITIKA: My family is originally from Lucknow, India. As a kid, I loved dressing up in my mother’s clothes and playing with her makeup. I used to read all of the fashion magazines to explore the latest trends. I had a love for fashion before I had any idea that I could ever have a career in the industry.
I also grew up doing homemade masks with my mom a few times a week — that’s how I learned so much about Ayurveda. These values have helped me with my self-care (beauty routine, mental health and clarity, and physical condition). The idea of beauty coming from within as you nourish your soul always seemed important. Still, I didn’t realise how powerful this principle was until I immersed myself in the fashion industry.
From my childhood to today, I’ve seen very few people who look like me in any type of media in the West. As a young model, I was virtually the only one. Even today, I’m one of the very few Indian models in the business. I felt compelled to create a brand that is inclusive and offers an accurate representation of global beauty.
ELLE: How was Prakti Beauty conceived?
PRITIKA: The inspiration behind the brand comes from so many of my personal experiences; it is an extension of who I am.
Firstly, I’ve always felt nurtured by every part of my identity – comfortable and proud of my cultural duality; born and raised in America of Indian heritage. I’ve never felt caught between these two identities and, on the contrary, felt nurtured by both. That’s how Prakti’s hybrid concept came about. Prakti’s global approach combines the cultural richness and spirituality of India with the energy and technologies of the West.
Secondly, through my exposure to the beauty industry and working for many cosmetic companies, I could not understand why there had never been an India inspired brand to reach a global scale truly. That’s when I identified a white space in the market between traditional Ayurvedic Indian brands and Western ones. No brand bridged the gap and could appeal to global consumers.
Thirdly, Prakti is quite personal to me as well. I’ve practised Ayurveda my entire life and feel lucky to have been brought up with this holistic approach to beauty and wellness. I always understood how powerful these rituals and remedies are and wanted to share them with the world in a way that would resonate with my generation.
ELLE: How exactly do you conceptualise and execute your products?
PRITIKA: I think about the remedies and rituals that I grew up with and visualise what they would look like, feel like, smell like, and function like. Then I think about what they would feel like for today’s modern woman. Homemade Indian remedies, although effective, are typically raw, unrefined, and time-consuming to make. So, I wanted to elevate them by creating luxurious, sensorial experiences with each Prakti product. I visualise the product in every way possible before the development phase.
Because I grew up with a yogi as a mother, I know which key ingredients I want to combine and include in each formula. With the help of our chemist team, the product comes to life. I already have a strong direction for how I want the texture etc., to be, and am very specific about matching the product to my vision. I always strive to create an unexpected pleasure and delight, whether in the texture, the aroma, or the application.
ELLE: What sets Prakti apart in terms of ingredients and processes used to formulate the products?
PRITIKA: Prakti does not solely focus on Indian beauty but instead takes a global approach through its hybrid brand positioning. It combines the cultural richness and spirituality of India with the energy and technologies of the West. This gives Prakti the ability to resonate with both Western and Indian consumers. For me, it has always been about connecting with people across all cultures.
Every part of the brand embodies the hybrid ideal as it represents my generation of multidimensional, modern women. For example, our first product PritiPolish Instant Glow Exfoliator, reimagines rice, an enduring staple in homemade skincare remedies, into a modern, sensorial experience for skin and soul. It is a delicate fine rice powder made by an advanced milling technique. A blend of nourishing Ayurvedic ingredients revitalise and deliver an antioxidant boost to keep skin incredibly glowy. It adds a little magic to your routine – mixing just a few drops of water turns the white powder into a beautiful shade of amethyst.
ELLE: As a young’un at the helm of a brand that is also young and growing, what is it that keeps you motivated?
PRITIKA: My mother inspires me every day. She goes through life in such a balanced, spiritual, present in every moment kind of way. She dared to move to the U.S. when she couldn’t speak English and integrated into a completely new community while keeping her heritage. Lastly, she devotes so much to the family. That’s special to me.
I want to make a difference on many levels in this world, from the beauty industry to social programs such as Operation Smile and Prakti’s Suman Saroj Initiative. The interrelationship between these motivates and pushes me to continue to work hard.
As I’ve spent so many of my formative and adult years in the industry, my vision remains the same. I strive to elevate diversity and inclusivity and use my platform and influence to positively impact the beauty and fashion industry. My goal is to inspire women to fearlessly pursue multidimensional, fulfilling lives.
ELLE: How do you plan to make Ayurveda attractive to a western consumer base?
PRITIKA: I believe there is a genuine curiosity and interest in the West about India. This new open-mindedness makes this the right time to bring Prakti to the global market. While many Indian beauty brands to date have been primarily traditional, quiet in nature, and seemingly targeted exclusively to an Indian audience, Prakti was meant to resonate on a global level from the outset. In addition, while many see India as a land of traditions, I know that’s only the beginning. My interest is not only in honouring these traditions but in exposing the excitement of modern India.
In speaking to hundreds of women in both India and the U.S. I learned that all these women have similar desires for healthy, glowing skin as well as concerns. This deep understanding and insight have been instrumental in the creation of our product lineup.
ELLE: Did you have any fears or anxieties before deciding to invest your time and energy in launching an I-Beauty brand in the U.S.?
PRITIKA: No, I didn’t. Once I had the idea for Prakti, I did a ton of desk research and market research before fully jumping in. I saw the opportunity, which I needed to commit to bringing the brand to life. When I set my mind to something I believe in, it doesn’t waver. I knew it was what people needed, but a part of me didn’t know how it would be received. Prakti’s hybrid brand positioning is novel, and it’s just not the typical beauty brand.
Having said that, I will confess that as an entrepreneur, there are constant fears and anxieties inherent in running your company efficiently. I feel the pressure of doing everything I possibly can to make Prakti successful. I have to tell myself to trust the process, and when things don’t go the way they are supposed to (they usually don’t), just breathe and keep moving forward.
ELLE: Lastly, what’s next in line for Prakti?
PRITIKA: We will be launching our next product MahaMask in early November. I’m so excited about this launch as it will also unveil more about Prakti. We will continue to expand our skincare offering and complete the routine, so we plan to drop a new product every few months. I can’t wait for you all to see what we have in store for you.
In conclusion, I believe that Indian beauty deserves a place at centre stage. However, I’ve approached this goal through a different lens. Prakti is a true representation of who I am and who we are – hybrids of mixed cultures, heritage, experiences, multidimensionality, goals and dreams. And thus, our products have been created based on today’s cultural and social reality.