PARIS — Independent Indonesian vegan beauty brand Esqa has raised $6 million in a Series A round led by Unilever Ventures, the venture capital and private equity arm of Unilever, which is making its first foray into Southeast Asia with the investment.
East Ventures also contributed financing.
Esqa is considered the first vegan cosmetics brand to be launched in Indonesia, the fastest growing beauty market in Southeast Asia, according to digital ecosystem lab iStrata, citing data from Statista.
Esqa is known for its makeup products, but has just branched out into skincare. The brand has 120 storage units, each certified halal, along with one vegan.
It is sold through omnichannel platforms, especially through marketplaces, e-commerce, and its own direct-to-consumer website. Physically, Esqa is carried in Sephora, Watsons and local cosmetics stores in 47 Indonesian cities. Esqua has also expanded its presence in Vietnam through Sociolla stores.
In Southeast Asia, the brand is present in countries such as Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.
Esqa was founded by Cindy Angelina, who serves as chief executive officer, and Kezia Trihatmanto, the brand’s chief product officer. Their goal was to make luxury beauty practical and affordable, according to a statement from Esqa.
“As the middle class grows, Esqa is best positioned to tap into this mass market, through its inclusive products designed to streamline the beauty routine of modern women,” the brand said, in the statement.
“Innovation is at the forefront of our brand,” Trihatmanto said, in the statement. “Our approach is to think globally and act regionally, so Esqa is quick to spot 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 looking to raise money initially, as the brand has been consistently profitable, they said.
“But we realized that strategic expertise is needed as the business grows,” said Angelina. “With Unilever Ventures’ experience partnering with visionary founders in building iconic consumer brands around the world and East Venture’s strong ecosystem in Indonesia, it will enable Esqa to embark on its next phase of growth.”
This includes scaling its omnichannel distribution and reaching new cities at home and abroad, while growing its product offering, talent pool and strengthening its market strategy.
Pawan Chaturverdi, partner at Unilever Ventures, said Esqa is transforming “into one of the most exciting independent beauty brands in Southeast Asia.”
“Esqa’s ability to innovate an exciting line of products that spot international trends while adapting to local needs was instrumental in their early success,” he said.
“There is a growing demand for high-quality, hyper-local and affordable beauty products, and we are confident that Esqa’s innovative natural ingredients and broad product offering will propel Esqa to be a leader in the beauty market in the Southeast Asian,” said Avina Sugiarto, partner at East Ventures.
Other past beauty investments made by Unilever Ventures include True Botanicals, Nutrafol, Frank Body and Plum.