A pair of University of Alberta students have taken their knowledge of chemicals and passion for business to create a product they hope will be a hit among women.
Akash Gupta is a fourth year chemical engineering student who got the idea of creating an all-natural lipstick after a trip to a cosmetics store with his mom and sister. He was surprised at the cost of lipstick and the ingredients.
“I was shocked at the fact women are putting such compounds on their lipsticks and on their lips. So that’s when I thought to myself, ‘Maybe there’s a better solution,'” Gupta said.
He shared his idea of developing an all-natural lipstick with fellow chemical engineering student Sravya Kalyanapu.
Over the next year, the pair worked on a formula. The result is the creation of Seleste Lipsticks. The students are confident they’ve created a great product.
“We wanted to create a product that makes women feel good and look good at the same time without having any sort of chemical pollutants, and I think that’s what motivated us to make the lipsticks we have today,” Kalyanapu said.
“We really want to leave the choice to our customers; ‘What would you want to put on your lips? Would it be compounds that you don’t know about or a variety of avocado and coconut oils and natural ingredients that you hear of everyday?” Gupta said.
The students have been developing the product in a kitchen, but they hope to move to a manufacturing facility.
They’ve sold their product at farmer’s markets in Edmonton and Fort McMurray. The response has been positive, which has motivated the two entrepreneurs to move forward with their concept.
“Whatever customers have used our product, they absolutely love it; in fact, they’ve even put in testimonials and customer reviews on our website,” Gupta said.
“What they love about the product is how smooth and moisturizing it is, in that, it really doesn’t feel like you’re wearing lipstick throughout the day. It feels much more comfortable.”
Gupta and Kalyanapu now want to bring their all-natural lipstick to market.
“I think we’re ready at that stage where we have a good product, we’ve got a logo, we’re finally starting to get into marketing the product, we’ve got some inventory and we’d like to scale quickly,” Gupta said.
Gupta and Kalyanapu have put up some of their own money into developing a website. They’ve also received $1,000 through the University of Alberta’s eHUB Badge’s program, which rewards students for meeting certain goals in their entrepreneurial journey.
“eHub made very attainable and measurable goals for us to achieve and that really simplified things down for us,” Gupta said.
There is a social component to the endevour. Some of the money for each sale goes towards helping underprivileged girls in a village in India.
“That’s our mission: every lipstick we sell, it’s meant to empower someone underprivileged across the world,” Gupta said.
The product’s tagline is, “Smile, you’re making a difference.”