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Building ZAILA from the ground up: Part 1

September 2019 

I had the idea for ZAILA when I was traveling for work every week as a consultant. If you grew up in a South Asian household or have experimented with any Indian skincare, you’ll know that most Indian skincare treatments are like a full-blown recipe! You need a mixing bowl, spoons, and some kitchen ingredients just to make a simple mask. One week while I was traveling, I tried to take my favorite Multan Matti (or Fuller’s Earth) powdered clay mask with me. It made a complete mess all over my suitcase, and that’s when I started to wonder about Indian skincare... why aren’t there more South Asian brands in the beauty world? We grew up using natural Indian remedies for our beauty treatments, and I was in a unique position to share that with the world! 

But there was a catch - although I love natural ingredients like turmeric, moringa, and amla, I also love clinically-proven active ingredients like vitamin c, niacinamide, and glycolic acid. So, I set out to create fun, effective skincare that fused my love for Indian/Ayurvedic ingredients with the best active ingredients from modern science. 

I first started working on ZAILA back in September 2019. I had no idea what I wanted to name the brand but I could not stop thinking about starting my own business - so I just did as much research as I could and saved the naming for later! Google became my best friend, and I started learning about the cosmetics manufacturing process, formulation, ingredients, and how to go about starting a business. 

Enrolling in Formula Botanica courses helped me to learn about formulation and building a beauty brand. I also started growing my network of mentors, trying to talk to anyone and everyone who would listen! I was able to connect with beauty industry veterans from brands like Estee Lauder, Loreal, Bare Minerals, Beauty Heroes, and more. 


Fast forward to January 2020

After doing a couple months of preliminary research, I decided it was time to find a name for my project. My sister and I started looking for Indian words that I’d also be able to trademark (super important). We came across the word zaila, meaning mountains in Sanskrit, and I immediately fell in love with how it sounded. I also loved that the meaning tied into one of my favorite ingredients - seaberry oil, which comes from the Himalayan mountain region in India. I made sure I would be able to get the business name, domain name, and social media handles before finalizing the company name. 

February 2020

I continued to work through my Formula Botanica coursework, network with beauty industry professionals, and solidify my business ideas. I also incorporated my company in Delaware as an LLC (rookie mistake - don’t do this unless you actually live in Delaware and/or are forming a C-corporation, not an LLC). I also spent a lot of time researching my competitors and defining how ZAILA would truly be different from other brands, including other Indian skincare brands.

May 2020

For any product-based business, trademarking the brand name is super critical. I had heard tons of horror stories of brands getting sued or having to rename and rebrand their entire business because of trademark conflicts. I did a lot of research on what it takes to acquire a trademark, and then filed for the ZAILA trademark as soon as I was confident I would be able to make my case for the mark. 

That’s all I’ll cover in this blog post for now. I’ll create a Part 2 that will get into some of the more interesting steps such as the R&D process, growing our team, and building up a social media presence! Thank you so much for following along with me on this journey. 

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