LONDON — The best business lessons are learned in-house, which so far have proven right for Kuldeep Knox, founder and chief executive officer of hair care brand Chāmpo, who cut her teeth at Neo Investment Partners, the British backer behind brands including Victoria Beckham, Ami Paris, Miller Harris, Valextra and Alain Mikli.
Since launching in 2019, the brand has sold more than 1.5 million products with a 220 percent year-over-year growth rate that has resulted in being the fastest-growing hair care brand in Selfridges.
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“It was a couple of years after [leaving private equity] that I went through my own experience of hair thinning and this really knocked my confidence. It made me realize just how important a woman’s hair is to her self identity,” Knox said in an interview, adding that her eureka idea came after witnessing her 70-year-old grandmother’s long, dark and thick hair, who was traveling from India. The brand’s name is a nod to her heritage — the word derived from the Hindi word capo.
The secret to her grandmother’s locks was a product of ancient Ayurvedic ingredients and rituals, which set Knox on her own personal wellness journey and 18 months of working with labs and trichologists to create a range of shampoos, conditioners, serums, hair accessories and hair oil.
The success of the Pitta growth serum has resulted in Harrods collaborating with Chāmpo on a first hair set. The product is the bestselling hair care product at the luxury department store and it sells one every minute on its own direct-to-consumer channel.
The serum is made up of red clover extract that helps prevent hair loss; lipoamino acids to retain a calm scalp and geranium, himalayan jatamansi, neroli and petitgrain to support the strength of the hair.
Chāmpo’s pricing range starts from 14.50 British pounds to 56.67 pounds.
“The price point that we’re at has been an important factor in our growth and being considerate of who our customers are. We have quite a broad customer base and we operate in all of the prestige markets,” Knox said.
The brand is expanding its wholesale operations, which has overperformed with an 800 percent year-over-year growth selling in Northern Ireland and Ireland at Brown Thomas and Arnotts.
Chāmpo sold out at Brown Thomas in Dublin within a week — the retailer quickly placed the brand in three more of their regional doors.
Knox has recently ticked off Dubai on her list and next up is the Netherlands, launching at Douglas and Debijenkorf.
“Our main customer base are women experiencing fine or thinning hair and there’s a big pool of them in the Netherlands. We’re really data led about this because that’s where the organic traffic is coming from on our website,” said Knox, adding that she plans to scale the U.S. and European arm of the business this year after “the growth rates continue to rise.”
The business’ growth strategy has been focused on sustainable and profitable growth, which the founder started with a loan from her parents.
Knox studied finance and accounting at London School of Economics and entered the world of finance upon graduating.
“I thought I’d spend my career in finance, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to be the case. But looking back it’s quite a bold move, to give up a high paying, really stable career to go off and do something really creative and different,” she explained.
“The training that you get with a finance background is really useful because you really think about the numbers and that sets businesses up with a greater likelihood of success,” she added.
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