With the onset of winters, the demand for genuine, focused, skincare products tends to skyrocket. We had a chat with Rida and Fahd, the founders of MerryDerma – an online skincare store that focuses specifically on common skin concerns in Pakistan. They’re also the parents of an atopic child, and we talked about the journey and philosophy that drove them to establish this start-up, and what differentiates it from others.
Tell us about your brand.
MerryDerma is an online store that curates genuine, therapeutic skincare products in Pakistan for eczema, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, and other such common issues. This includes moisturizers, washes, cleansers, sunscreens, etc. Currently, all our range is imported.
When and why did you start?
Our son was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis as an infant and his condition was so severe that it disrupted his day-to-day activities; ranging from sleeping, to playing, to eating; everything became a difficult task for him, and us too as parents. It took us a long time to find skincare products that made his eczema bearable, as most of the products weren’t available in Pakistan. It was such a hassle as we had to ask our friends and family living abroad to send us those particular products, and that wasn’t always possible. After a couple of years of struggle, it finally hit us that we couldn’t be the only ones with this concern. And so, MerryDerma was founded to fill that gap in the market and cater to all the major concerns like eczema, psoriasis, acne, early-aging, and dry skin in general. In the beginning, our primary focus was eczema, as we were struggling with it as a family. But later on, we added products related to other skin concerns as per demand.
What is eczema? What are the general misconceptions people have regarding eczema?
Eczema is a condition that causes your skin to become dry, red, itchy, and bumpy. It damages the skin barrier function and makes your skin more sensitive and prone to infection and dryness.
The biggest misconception is that eczema might be contagious. Well, it’s not. This actually reminds us of our son’s first day of school. That day his eczema was quite prominent, especially on the face. So one of his teachers asked us whether it is contagious or not. She had a very unsettling look, but obviously, we can’t blame her; no one wants to be exposed to something not desirable. Anyhow, we assured her that it’s not and informed her more about atopic dermatitis and it is more of a genetic thing.
In Pakistan, eczema is not as common as in some of the other countries, so naturally, you can’t expect people to know the details. But the prevalence is going up, and we as the sufferers (or relatives, friends, etc. of the sufferers) of this disease should definitely raise awareness in our country.
How’d you settle on the name “MerryDerma”?
We actually brainstormed numerous names for our business and eventually settled on this particular one. Wanted to keep it simple and in coherence with our tagline – “Giving life to your skin”. So, “merry” meaning “happy” and “derma” specifying “skin”, it serves our purpose. As happy skin is what we are targeting through the products that we offer.
Do you also guide people on what products would suit them according to their skin type?
Over the years we’ve tried so many products in order to ascertain what suits our son the best. Moreover, in the beginning, we used to ask friends and family with particular skin issues to try related products and give their feedback as well. We’ve tested most of the products in stock ourselves.
But skincare is always about individuality, and what suits each separate customer. What suits 90% might not suit the remaining 10%. It involves experimentation, monitoring, and understanding your own skin. And it’s a misconception that authentic products will 100% suit everyone – it’s not a guarantee. So while we advise, the final selection and results will always depend on the customer and their own knowledge of their own skin (or what their dermatologist might tell them!)
You don’t have much staff. Don’t you find it difficult to run your business, manage the supply chain and handle customers, while also balancing family time?
Generally, our shipping process is smooth because we work with some great business partners. We’re heavily automated, so that takes a lot of the load off, and we’re not really pushed to balance family time. But yes, sometimes hiccups do happen. We’re very interactive with our customers, so when that does happen, we notify our customers waiting for the pending products. It’s worth noting, we’re not working on a drop shipping model – our products, whatever we have in stock, are actually here in Pakistan, so we’re in more control than many.
How do you deal with unsatisfied customers?
Our customer satisfaction ratio is pretty high, almost stellar. But obviously, like any other business, we too face some setbacks once in a while, like broken products during logistics, or orders getting mixed (human errors). This is quite rare, but as soon as the concerned customer brings that to our attention, we at MerryDerma promptly respond and offer the necessary adjustment – whether it’s refunds, rebates, or product replacement assurance.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Over the years we have really learned to empathize with people suffering from skin-related issues. As it’s not a joke, it’s something very serious. Your day-to-day activities, in fact, your entire life are impacted by it.
So whenever a customer gives us positive feedback regarding a certain product; that their particular skin concern is getting better with each usage of one of the products they bought off us; this puts a huge smile on our faces. It’s such a comforting feeling that someone found something that suits them, via our platform.
Three tips for healthier skin?
Well, our experience has taught us that whatever you put inside your body, reflects what is outside. Diet has a very major role to play, a healthy diet will actually help control symptoms of your eczema, psoriasis, and acne-prone skin. So that’s the first thing to consider.
Secondly, uncontrolled stress can make your skin more sensitive and trigger skin problems. To encourage healthy skin – and a healthy state of mind – take steps to manage your stress.
Lastly, obviously whatever you apply topically also plays a huge role. So try to find moisturizers, washes, sunscreens, etc. according to your skin type. Ask an expert if you’re not sure what to and what not to get.
Anything you would like to add at the end?
Everyone has their fair share of struggle waiting for them, and we all have to go through it, whether we like it or not. It depends entirely on you how you handle your situation. In our case, there was a low point where these negative thoughts took over; that our son is never going to get better and life is only going to go downhill. But we both, as parents, pulled ourselves together and made use of those feelings, resources, and experiences; thus creating an opportunity for betterment. So the trick is to try to find positivity in whatever problems we’re facing. Reflect on whether we can find solutions or use our experiences to help ourselves or others facing the same issues.
This post is sponsored by MerryDerma.
Cover image via MerryDerma