Did You Know Lakme, The Indian Cosmetic Brand, Was Named After A French Opera

Lakme is the brain child of JRD Tata. It was started in 1952. It came out as the most successful brand that was later sold to Hindustan Lever Limited as Tata thought HLL will do better justice to the company. A survey ranked Lakme to be one of the top 50 most trusted brands in India.


Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the idea of starting an Indian cosmetic brand to JRD Tata.

Back in the early 1950s, when Indian women were splurging on imported foreign cosmetics, it was affecting Forex reserve. This was disturbing Nehru as the Indian society was in its nascent stage and maintaining Forex was of the utmost importance. Nehru came up with the idea of starting an Indian cosmetic brand because banning such products was impossible in a democracy.


There are sources that says certain women’s associations put forward there concern about unavailability of affordable beauty products. Nehru was well aware of JRD Tata’s passion and entrepreneurship skills. Nehru had faith in JRD Tata’s unquestionable skills and therefore he personally approached him. JRD Tata got keen about the idea and accepted the proposal with open arms.

There were a few challenges. First, keeping a brand identity to please upper middle class women, and second, making products suitable for “Indian Skin” which foreign products failed at. 


JRD Tata named Lakme after a French Opera.

JRD Tata was a master in market research and finding chemical engineers for the start up was not at all a worry. Giving the product an identity was a big task. He named it. “Lakme” after the famous French Opera.


The reason behind this name was that the French Opera derived it’s name ‘Lakme’ from the sanskrit word Lakshmi. Well, it was a spectacular name one could ever have thought of, as Goddess Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and beauty.


The company was said to bring wealth to our nation and  also was to take care of the beauty of our nation’s women. Upper middle class women who were using foreign products never would have been tempted by any product named Lakshmi lipsticks, Lakshmi  Kajal. Therefore, JRD Tata thought of giving the product a name that won’t let the customer distinguish between desi and videsi. As the motive was to divert women from imported products to the products made in-house.

So this is the story of Lakme for you. JRD Tata’s superb thought process and marketting skills made it the top rated Indian brand of today!

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