An Interview with Rosie Khandwala of Sugar Coated Ltd

Rosie Khandwala

Meet Rosie of Sugar Coated Limted

Sugar waxing and hair removal expert Rosie Khandwala is the Co-Founder of Aqua Natural and the brains behind Sugar Coated Hair Removal. Sugar Coated is a vegan sugar wax made from just sugar and water blended with different essential oils for each part of the body. With over 30 years of experience in the hair removal and beauty industry she has worked with some of the biggest brands in world. Rosie grew up in Tanzania and when she moved to the UK she brought with her, her cultural tradition of sugar waxing with her and introduced it to the UK. Rosie’s focus and heart has always been in ethical and eco-friendly manufacturing and beauty products.

1. Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?

My beauty experience started from an early age of 15 having worked part time at my cousin’s hair & beauty salon in the port town of Tanga in Tanzania. During my teenage years beauty was pretty basic. Imported products were not readily available, so we got used to making our own traditional sourced treatments. Most of these were derived from home ingredients and using extracts from fruit, herbs and oils. One of the most common treatments was hair removal this was due to culture and the year round warm weather. We used to make a traditional paste blending sugar. Water and lemon juice.

Having brought up in Tanzania during the socialist period we were trained with the notion of ‘self reliance’. Moving to U.K was exciting but over whelming as I arrived in 1987 with a six year old and seven months pregnant. I had the urge to have some financial independence and wanted to just earn some pin money. Setting up as a mobile therapist was an obvious choice.

Whilst I was setting up the business, I could not find a natural sugar-based product apart from standard waxes which I was not very familiar with. I decided not to pursue as a mobile therapist instead I started making small batches and introduced it to the local salons. As the demand grew, along with my husband we decided to set up the business and we became the first to introduce the concept of sugar waxing into the UK market in 1989.

2. What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?

Manufacturing initially was the biggest challenge. What was not taken into consideration was the ratio of sugar to lemon juice when cooking in large quantities and the temperature variation. The initial batches would crystalize in winter and runny in summer losing its efficacy. We had to recall our early batches. By getting a better understanding of sugar chemistry I developed our unique blend of sugar syrups eliminating the need for lemon juice or citric acid and creating a consistent product for the last 30 years.

Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you? I think bringing in ideas from other cultures opens vast variety of opportunities. We live in multicultural society and the opportunities to introduce and influence products from these backgrounds is infinite. Just as sugaring was an old traditional method practiced for centuries in the Middle East, Africa and Indian sub-continent but was unknown when introduced in UK. Anita Roddick was a huge inspiration to me. Her philosophy on business and ethical beauty rang very true with me and her willingness to travel the world to source the next new product from other native cultures fascinated me. I was lucky to be a part of the movement as we supplied The Body Shop their sugaring product for 18 years

3. What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?

Coming from a background where there was a scarcity of basic everyday needs where nothing went to waste, that is instilled in our business ethics. Our strict manufacturing practice was influenced working with The Body Shop. At that time, companies supplying them had to abide by the values that were set out, recycling, using ingredients not tested on animals sourcing locally all this gave us integrity which we continue to hold. All our waste is chemical free as we do not use any chemicals in our formulation. We advocate strongly for cruelty-free beauty practices and for ethical and eco-friendly manufacturing. We are far from perfect but we try and get better every day and are always looking at how we can improve.

The decline of the bee population due to climate change and use of pesticides is a topic which has been of concern to us in recent years so we began actively support the Northamptonshire Beekeepers Association by providing our surplus sugar syrup which helps sustain the bees as a food source during the frigid winter months.

4. What is next for your brand?

Growth is next on our list. I have been in the industry for 30 years but Sugar Coated is a new venture for us and we are so excited to see how it grows over the next 6-12 months. We hope to see the product appear in more and more outlets both in store on the shelves and online. We also have a lot of exciting ideas in the pipeline to expand our range in some innovative ways. But I’ll keep those under my hat for now.

5. What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?

Grow your business at a pace where you can be in control and reign back. This was a lesson we witnessed during our first experience of 90’s recession where small companies grew fast during the boom years but lost control and went into receivership either by over borrowing or left to management.

6. What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?

Shifting our business online became a must for us. When we lost The Body Shop contract, we were left stranded without any other retail outlet. Our only option was launching the business online to survive. Having avenues like Amazon and Feel Unique available to us gave us stability and exposure. Social media today is a great marketing tool to keep brand awareness, be able expose your values to consumer and reaching the right audience.

The fact that currently we are the only UK manufactured hair removal brand registered as Vegan and certified as Cruelty Free gives us leverage to fulfill the current consumers trend who are conscious about the environment and ethics.

As my husband and I celebrate 30 years in the business we are comforted and excited that our son Noor has stepped in to build the vision of the company going forward and insight from a younger generations perspective.

More info on Rosie…

Brand Name: Sugar Coated
LinkedIn handle: rosiekhandwala
Twitter handle: @RosieKhandwala
Facebook handle: @sugarcoatedhairremoval
Instagram handle:@rosieaquanatural