Designer Badal Patel Creates Identity For New Beauty Brand, Kulfi

by Bill McCool on 02/16/2021 | 4 Minute Read

The Eurocentric standard of beauty, long the guiding force of the fashion and beauty world, has finally given way to a more diverse range of options for consumers. Even in 2021, that sounds like a ridiculous proposition. Of course, our beauty products should be more inclusive. But it’s only in the past few years that we see that the “Fenty Effect” is 100% real, and underserved demographics are finally having their time in the sun with diversified beauty ranges flying off the shelves. The new standard is shades for everyone.

Now, a new beauty brand for South Asian skin tones has landed on the scene—Kulfi.

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Founder Priyanka Ganjoo spent years in the beauty industry but didn’t see herself represented. Plenty of brands would appropriate her culture, sure, but then she also couldn’t find shades that worked for her skin tone. Realizing she’d had enough, she launched her own brand, turning to independent designer and now creative director for Kulfi, Badal Patel, to help her develop the upstart beauty company and fill the void for South Asian consumers while also celebrating their rich culture. Patel fashioned the brand strategy, packaging, and art direction for the new makeup company, in addition to developing the launch campaign.

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

“It took me three months to find the right design partner,” said Ganjoo in a press release. “I spoke to agencies and designers around the world, from LA to London to Mumbai, and many of them had great design skills, but I wanted someone I could trust as a partner. Once I met Badal Patel, I knew she understood the cultural context and could build something completely fresh and relevant.”

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“The brief was to create a cosmetics brand that not only highlighted South Asian beauty but made it fun for those using it,” Badal says. “It's hard finding the right makeup for people of color, which can make the whole process very sad and unappealing. The goal was to create a space that felt like a beauty playground where you’d want to hang out and bring your friends. With that in mind, I wanted to create something that felt refreshing yet relevant while avoiding all the cliches typically found within this space.”

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The beauty brand launches with Kajal, a vibrant, colorful line of eyeliners with cheeky names like Tiger Queen, Rain Check, and Purply Pataka. Each of the slim boxes features the brand name, logo mark, and a simplistic but playful illustration of made-up eyes, all set to a lavender and orange palette. The typography utilized is LFT Etica, and the custom wordmark incorporates calligraphic scripts, which help the brand maintain its modern sheen. The colors, meanwhile, resemble that of dual-tone silk sarees, a nod to the Bollywood movies Patel regularly binged on. Even the art direction in much of the launch campaign borrows from the same films, from the lively colors to the hand gestures used in the videos.

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Editorial photograph

The brand name itself is also meant to delight and evoke a feeling of nostalgia—kulfi is an Indian ice cream typically made with sweetened milk cooked for many hours and then frozen in a mold rather than churned. For many of those of South Asian descent, it’s a frozen delicacy that immediately transports you to a sweeter time—after all, ice cream is the universal DeLorean.  

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“For me, the thought of kulfi, the ice cream-like sweet, takes me to a happy place,” she says. “It's not only a treat to eat, but a treat to look at, especially with the different colors and textures when it melts. All of these things felt like the perfect combination of feelings we wanted the brand to embody.”

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Frozen treats aside, the campaign, dubbed “Nazar No More,” is largely about empowerment and defining beauty from their own perspective. “The product itself, Kajal (meaning eyeliner), has traditionally been used to protect people from Nazar or the Evil Eye in many different cultures,” Patel admits. “Growing up, we are socialized to look and behave a certain way, which can have a lasting impact. For women and gender-expansive folks of color, it can be exhausting to navigate the conflicting signals we receive from culture, society, and family.”

“The whole campaign is about empowering ourselves to define beauty from our own perspective rather than the Nazar or gaze of others.”

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