GUNAS, America’s first vegan handbag company, has successfully completed its seed investment round of a quarter million dollars from an anonymous angel investor at a valuation of USD $5 million.
Neil Mohinani, an independent finance professional in New York City, brought in strategic angel investors with the objective of expanding the product offering and geographic reach of the brand’s customer base.
The angel investors saw GUNAS as a lifestyle brand aligned to shifting millennial preferences associated with conscious consumerism and high design. Mohinani believes the company is on a growth path to cross a $100 million-dollar valuation within five years given its current growth rates and product strategy.
Over the past four years, sales of GUNAS handbags and accessories went up by approximately 30% annually as the brand’s message of mindful consumerism increasingly resonated with its audience globally. The company has a growing social media base and a healthy list of customers in over 40 countries. In June last year, GUNAS won the Macy’s Best Retail Bag Award in New York City through the Independent Handbag Awards.
The company will use the $250,000 investment to introduce uniquely designed and 100% plant-based artisanal beauty bars, starting with pure olive oil soap in floral fragrances and volcanic ash. “Beauty soaps have a huge opportunity in terms of being animal-free and formulated with pure ingredients,” said GUNAS founder Sugandh Agrawal. “This new direction is an extension of our core values of inner beauty inside and out, without harming any living being.”
In addition to the monetary investment, the angel investor – who prefers to remain anonymous – will provide GUNAS with trademarking help, digital marketing and expanding sales in Asia, as well as placing the brand’s fashion and beauty products with Asian celebrities.
Self-proclaimed ‘design addict’ Sugandh Agrawal founded GUNAS in 2009 to fuse her passion for sustainable, cruelty-free fashion with her love of aesthetics. Born in India and brought up in Germany and the US since she was a teenager, Agrawal’s international experience is reflected in her stunning collections of luxury vegan handbags, which are hand-crafted in South Korea, in sweatshop-free facilities.
This mission-driven entrepreneur, who firmly believes that animals do not belong in fashion, worked as one of the lead industrial designers for Whirlpool and KitchenAid in Michigan before relocating to New York to study design management at the prestigious Pratt Institute. After deepening her industry knowledge at Be&D Handbags and Victoria’s Secret, Agrawal used her marketing and design skills to launch GUNAS – America’s first high-fashion vegan handbag brand. Agrawal draws inspiration from nature and other cultures and has a knack for identifying emerging trends to keep GUNAS current, ethical and eco-friendly.