2023 has been a particularly memorable year for one of Tamil cinema’s leading couples: actor Nayanthara and lyricist/filmmaker Vignesh Shivan. In addition to delivering hits like Jawan and penning a hit song like Ratthamarrey for Jailer, the couple launched a new skincare brand, 9Skin, in September.
Positioned as a brand that balances nature and modern science through nanotechnology, 9Skin has brought out a limited range of five products that are currently sold in India, Singapore and Malaysia.
The Indian celebrity skincare segment has gotten crowded in the past few years. Dipping one’s foot in can seem risky. However, for Shivan, co-founder of 9Skin, the opportunity outweighed the risk. While they remain tight-lipped about the extent of their investment in the venture, in this interview with Lounge, Shivan talks the set of events that drew Nayanthara and him into the skincare business.
“It started when Daisy Morgan, a Singapore-based entrepreneur and a good friend of ours reached out to us asking us to do something in the skincare space,” recalls Shivan noting that the couple’s initial plan was to have Nayanthara endorse Morgan’s skincare products.
“Nayan initially planned to be a brand ambassador for Daisy’s venture. And so, she first set out to try out the products. She ended up liking them so much that she felt that it would be good to introduce them in India for people who were looking for affordable but quality skincare,” Shivan says before acknowledging that it was his idea to launch the products under a new brand rather than merely have the actor attach her name to it.
“I suggested that we brand the product with Nayan’s name,” he says. Once the name 9Skin was zeroed in on – the name refers to nine dimensions of well-being – it took the team a year to realise the vision from start to finish. “From the formulations, the fragrance to package design, we put our hearts into it. And we even took time to get feedback from users before we decided to launch it officially,” Shivan says.
The website of the brand features five products: a day cream, a night cream, an anti-ageing serum, a glow serum and a booster oil, all of them priced between ₹999 and ₹1,899. The idea to have a limited range, Shivan informs, was intentional. “We decided to start with a minimal range because we wanted anyone who visited the website to have an easy time learning about the products.” Not just that, Shivan adds that having a limited line aligns with the brand’s overall philosophy of “uncomplicating the skincare experience”.
“These days, you have people advocating elaborate skincare rituals. Skincare has become about having 10 different products by your bedside. At 9Skin, we want to minimise that. We want to tell our customers that only one quality product is enough and you don’t need to spend more than 2-5 minutes on your skincare routine,” Shivan explains. The minimal approach also extends towards how the team wants to educate their customers about the products. “We’ve decided not to push our products too much. We don’t want to have 100 influencers talking about it. Instead, we are taking the organic route where we’ll let users try them out on their own,” Shivan says.
“Our current range of products are unisex and can be used by everyone. I use the night cream daily,” says Shivan. A couple more products, including a sunscreen, are in the pipeline to be launched, he adds.
Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit
While 9Skin may be the focus of the couple, what stands out is their entrepreneurial zeal. The two have invested in a handful of other ventures including beverage brand Chai Waale; a content marketing company, Rowdy Pictures; a female hygiene brand called Femi9; The Lip Balm Company; and food tech brand, The Divine Foods. “If we are not discussing movies we are discussing potential businesses,” says Shivan. “There’s a creative element inherent in every venture and that’s what spurs me to invest.”