Indonesian beauty startup ESQA bags $6m led by Unilever Ventures

Indonesian beauty brand ESQA has snagged $6 million in a Series A round led by Unilever Ventures, the venture capital arm for the FMCG major Unilever. East Ventures also participated in the round, the company said in a statement.

The deal marked the first investment by Unilever Ventures in SE Asia’s beauty space.

ESQA plans to use the funding to expand its omnichannel distribution, and reach new cities and markets. Moreover, ESQA will add more product offerings, boost talent building, as well as strengthen its marketing activities.

ESQA products are distributed through omnichannel platforms – marketplaces, e-commerce, and its own direct-to-consumer website. The brand is also sold in prominent offline retailers such as Sociolla, Sephora, Watsons and local cosmetics stores in 47 cities nationwide.

ESQA has expanded to Vietnam through Sociolla stores across Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang and Hanoi. The company has also expanded into Singapore and Malaysia.

Claimed to be the first vegan cosmetics brand in Indonesia, ESQA has about 120 stock-keeping units (SKUs) of make-up and skincare products. The startup was co-founded by CEO Cindy Angelina and chief product officer Kezia Trihatmanto in 2015 with the aim to redefine luxury beauty products and make them accessible and affordable to wider customers. ESQA products are also halal-certified.

Despite the pandemic, ESQA recorded profitability and positive growth.

“By having consistent profitability, we weren’t looking to fundraise initially but we realized that strategic expertise is needed as the business grew,” said ESQA co-founder and CEO Cindy Angelina. 

“There is a growing demand for high-quality, hyperlocal, and affordable beauty products, said Avina Sugiarto, Partner at East Ventures. “We are certain that ESQA’s innovative, natural ingredients and wide-product offerings will propel ESQA to be a leader in the beauty market in SE Asia,” she added.

Indonesian local beauty brands have been attracting VC investments over the past few years. Other notable local beauty startups are AC Ventures-backed Nama Beauty, Scarlett, Avoskin, and Skintific. In September, Somethinc-BeautyHaul raised $10 million in Series B funding from Sequoia Capital India and Prosus Ventures.

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