Featured investment proposal:
Rishi Anand of Venture Giant met with Retailer Nicola Ena-Smith to talk about her inspiration behind her established natural skincare business, her criteria for finding new suppliers and how she is dealing with the economic crisis overall.
An allergic reaction inspired me to start my own business.
It was back in 2005 when I started to suffer allergic reactions brought on by a move into a new house. I started suffering from hives, which would appear all over my body and cause me particular pain on my head. It was after seeing my GR who filled me up with antihistamines and steroids that I turned to natural health products. I went to see a homeopath who told me that I could be allergic to Sodium Laurel Sulphate - the foaming agent found in most conventional beauty products his started my fascination with natural health products and I began to research other ingredients that can cause allergies. Green People was the first brand I used and then I started using Pure Muff Stuff as well.
I knew there was a gap in the market for a shop that sold just natural skincare
I was musing to my husband one day about how I needed a shop where you can go and try all of these natural products, and that was when he said:” Why don't you start one then?" I had already started the business in the back of my mind -1 knew what type of products I wanted to sell and what companies I wanted to stock. It was just a case of finding the shop.
The shop opened a year ago
The shop pretty much still sells what I started out with. We started selling Luma bedding and robes from day one. From thinking about having a shop to opening one, was about two years. It took that long to source products and brands. I didn't want to just go for skincare as I didn't think that would sustain me.
My customers vary in age and expectations
I get such a varied range of customer. People in their 30s and some much older. Some are buying it because it is chemical free and others because they have allergies like me. Then there are people who just like to buy organic and Fairtrade.
Children's clothes are a big seller and the Bio-D refills are popular, too.
My customers love the idea of refilling their cleaning products instead of throwing away packaging.I take on new products all the time I am fussy about ingredients of new suppliers. Because there is little legislation regarding labelling, anyone can make a product and say it is natural. I want to be able to say to my customers that these are the most natural and organic products you can get.
Customers are 50/50 on whether a product needs to be green
With the toys, for instance, people pick them up because they like them. When I explain they are made out of trees that would have been burnt because they no longer produce latex, they are interested and want to buy them. Similarly, with the candles, some people will buy them because they like the smell and others will buy them because they are made from organic plant wax.
The next thing I will look at is mineral make up
Mineral make up seems to be very popular at the moment. It is definitely something that people ask me about. I will wait until I go to the Natural Products Show to see what is there. I find new lines at Natural Products, although I would need a shop ten times the size if I stocked everything I wanted to!
I am often triggered by a customer asking for something
A customer might come in and ask what do you think about this product or company? I will then look them up and give them my expertise. We will spend time looking at ingredients together. Or suppliers send some samples or information and I speak to my customers. I ask them if they would use it and I make my decision after talking to them.
Nicola Ena Smith is looking for £150,000.00 and her investment proposal is featured on Venture Giant. Please click here to view this investment proposal as well as others all categorised by region, investment range and industry.
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