PARIS — Indie Indonesian vegan beauty brand Esqa has raised $6 million in a series A round led by Unilever Ventures, Unilever’s venture capital and private equity branch, which is making its first foray into Southeast Asia with the investment.
East Ventures also contributed to the funding.
Esqa is billed to be the first vegan cosmetics brand to have launched in Indonesia, the fastest-growing beauty market in Southeast Asia, according to digital ecosystem lab iStrata, citing Statista data.
Esqa is known for its makeup products, but has just expanded into skin care. The brand has 120 stock keeping units, with each being certified halal — alongside vegan.
It is sold through omnichannel platforms, especially via marketplaces, e-commerce and its own direct-to-consumer website. Brick-and-mortar wise, Esqa is carried in Sephora, Watsons and local cosmetics stores in 47 Indonesian cities. Esqua has broadened its reach in Vietnam through Sociolla stores, as well.
In Southeast Asia, the brand is present in countries such as Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.
Esqa was founded by Cindy Angelina, who serves as its chief executive officer, and Kezia Trihatmanto, the brand’s chief product officer. Their goal was to make luxury beauty both practical and affordable, according to a statement from Esqa.
“With the growing middle class, Esqa is in the best position to leverage this masstige market, through its inclusive products designed to simplify the beauty routine of modern women,” said the brand, in the statement.
“Innovation is at the forefront of our brand,” said Trihatmanto, in the statement. “Our approach is to think globally and act regionally, therefore Esqa is fast in spotting international trends, but catering [them] to Asian skin and local demands, according to our customer-centric focus, providing products that the customer needs.”
Esqa executives weren’t seeking to fundraise initially, as the brand has been consistently profitable, they said.
“But we realized that strategic expertise is needed as the business grew,” said Angelina. “With Unilever Ventures’ expertise in partnering with visionary founders in building iconic consumer brands across the world and East Venture’s strong ecosystem in Indonesia, it will empower Esqa to embark on its next stage of growth.”
That includes scaling its omnichannel distribution and reach to new cities at home and abroad, while growing product offer, talent pool and bolstering its market strategy.
Pawan Chaturverdi, a partner at Unilever Ventures, said Esqa is being built “into one of the most exciting indie beauty brands in the Southeast Asia.”
“Esqa’s ability to innovate an exciting line of products spotting international trends while customizing to local needs has been instrumental to their early success,” he said.
“There is a growing demand for high-quality, hyperlocal and affordable beauty products, and 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 Southeast Asia,” said Avina Sugiarto, a partner at East Ventures.
Other past beauty investments made by Unilever Ventures include True Botanicals, Nutrafol, Frank Body and Plum.