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I suffered from acne for most of my teenage life. It was painful not only physically but also emotionally. My peers regularly threw names like “crater face” and “pizza face” at me. “Go wash your face” was another favorite phrase one of the boys in my class used to shout. I was embarrassed. I felt lousy. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror. My self-esteem was in the toilet.

After the Pacific

“Many of us suffer from acne, and the impact on your self-confidence can be devastating,” says Neel Patel, Founder of After Pacific. “I started After Pacific to provide access to Indian skincare secrets and Ayurvedic remedies so we can all feel confident in clear, comfortable skin.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. It usually begins during puberty and can occur at any stage of life. It affects up to 50 million Americans each year. Acne can significantly affect our emotional health. Study after study shows the damage acne can have, including increased anxiety, depression, and feelings of being isolated and alone. And especially for teenage girls, acne can cause intense stress, making them less attractive and causing low self-esteem. For me, once the acne cleared up, the dark spots left behind served as a constant reminder of the pain the acne continued to cause.

Enter After Pacific. Its flagship product, the Pacific Glow Clay Mask, is supercharged with turmeric, alma berry, aloe vera, and lemon peel extract. It only uses 100% natural and vegan ingredients that are safe even for sensitive skin. Not only does this amazing mask fight acne, it also tackles stubborn dark spots and hyperpigmentation that so many brown and black consumers suffer from.

Image credit: After Pacific

Patel chose the name After Pacific as a nod to the Pacific regions of the world where Ayurvedic remedies have existed for over 5,000 years. He wanted to develop a modern brand with a fun, fresh and soothing vibe. “And most importantly, I wanted the brand to be inspired by and incorporate all the Indian skincare remedies that my mother made from scratch in our kitchen when I had acne.”

As Patel builds his skincare brand, here are three lessons he learned along the way:

Take the risk

As far back as he can remember, Patel has always been willing to take risks. When he was 9 years old, he and his mother left India to start a new life in Canada. Although he spoke no English, he helped his mother relocate for better opportunities. After settling in their small Canadian town, her mother started her own Indian catering service. “I knew my mother’s talents and what she was capable of,” he says. I pushed her to take the risk and start the service. It gave me first-hand insight into running a business.

After starting a career in investment banking, Patel risked it all and left. “People thought I was crazy walking away from this lucrative career,” says Patel. “But I wasn’t willing to put in 12-15 hours a day for a big payday in exchange for my happiness. Researching and moving company logos from one part of the game to another wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life. I know a lot of people who have enjoyed working in the industry, and I wanted to build something that was my own.”

The idea to build After Pacific came to him in September 2020. Inspired by his own battle with acne and what he saw adult friends living with their skin, he started looking for manufacturers. He worked closely with a chemist to finalize the flagship product and eventually launched it in April 2021. “Now some of my former colleagues who thought I was crazy for taking this risk are seeing how quickly the brand has evolved. and gained popularity,” says Patel. “They want to know how I did.”

Be open to your mistakes and adapt quickly

Although Patel has a strong background in finance, he had never launched an e-commerce brand before. He did his best to talk to as many founders as possible to try to avoid their mistakes. “You can’t avoid mistakes, they will always happen,” says Patel. “The important thing is to be open about your mistakes, to learn quickly and to adapt.”

Patel shares that one of his biggest mistakes was hiring an established and well-known marketing agency to help run paid ads for the brand. He found that the agency wasn’t spending as much time on its brand as it should because it wasn’t earning as much commission from smaller brands that weren’t spending as much. “I learned that lesson the hard way after spending a lot of money with the agency and seeing no results,” Patel says. “We finally separated from the agency and hired two media buyers who were entirely dedicated to After Pacific. As soon as we changed direction, we saw incredible results.

Remember that every dollar counts

As a self-funded, seeded founder, Patel always makes sure every dollar counts. “We look for unique ways to stand out and succeed in the market, and at the same time, we have a limited budget,” he explains. “Every dollar should have a return on investment. It can be scary and hurtful when you make mistakes, and having limited funds keeps you on your toes.

With limited funds, Patel has a strong sense of focus and is smart about where he invests. Although After Pacific may be in a number of retailers and expand distribution, it wants to focus on pursuing brand awareness before spreading it too much. As he seeks to connect with investors and begin the fundraising journey, he is committed to building a skincare brand that continues to honor and embrace his South Asian roots. .

Recently, Patel has started seeing brands similar to After Pacific’s vision. “They might have the money. But what’s more important is having a community that loves your product and naturally becomes the brand advocates – it’s not something you can easily reproduce,” says Patel. “It’s not a two-year plan for us; we’re in this for the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race.