We have a chat with Nafiisah of Zil Nature about starting her business, her challenges and what she is currently learning about her business.
Tell us about your business and how the idea for Zilnature came about?
Zil Nature is a natural skincare & haircare business where all products are ethically sourced, plant-based and uses eco-friendly packaging. I currently have an oil range such as face oils, oils-based cleanser, hair oil and a beard oil. I have always used oils in my skincare & haircare routine and I love so many different oils but could not find one that contains all the amazing oils so I created Zil Nature to have different oil blends based on skin type for their great properties.
How did you settle on the name choice?
I was thinking of something to combine nature and where I am from which is Mauritius and decided to have “Zil” which means Island in Creole which kind of reflects the natural beauty of the island.
Where is your business based?
All products are handcrafted by me in London.
Describe/outline your typical day?
Every day is more or less different where some days I am doing research on new distribution channels to have my products out there, other days I am working on my labels, new formulations, looking for suppliers, coming up with new ideas to represent my products. I also spend quite a bit of time looking for the right collaborations with other businesses. Some of the time I spend networking, visiting shows, exhibitions either general in natural products, small business or for the cosmetic industry.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
The first thing I did was to enrol myself on a course to learn about the legal requirements of cosmetic in order to be compliant and to know the paperwork I would need to legally sell my products. Then I looked into setting up a company and the logistics and then it was on agreeing on wholesale suppliers from the oils to the bottles and everything else.
How/where did you make your first sale?
Before I started the business, I was already making the products for myself and some friends. One of my friends refused to buy from another supplier until my products were live and wanted to be my first customer and she was.
How do you generate new ideas?
I would either go for a long walk or go to a new area away from where I am based, visiting new shops and seeing around are all the different things I do when I want to think of something new in order to get a fresh perspective.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I have mainly oils based products where each oil has been researched and included for its properties and where quality is not compromised. For example, the rose essential oil that I used is one where its allergen has been removed as there is cosmetic restriction on its use if it wasn’t removed. I also use eco-packaging such as jute bag which is re-usable compared to the typical carton box.
How many hours do you work on your business on a daily basis?
When its your business, you don’t think about it in terms of hours but more how many things you need to get done as most of the time in a small business, its mainly you doing everything. I work pretty much from breakfast to bedtime but in chunks of 1 to 1.5 hours with breaks in between on most days. Even when I am meeting friends, I still talk a little about my business, show my new products or give samples, it still counts!
What has been the best way/method that you have used to create awareness of your business and reaching potential customers?
I don’t think there is one best method to generate awareness but instead multiple avenues together give the business awareness. Few of them are reaching out to current acquaintances and friends and asking them to share through their networks, online marketing, networking and other events are all good ways to generate awareness.
What has been your greatest challenge to date and how did you overcome this challenge?
Working on your own can be very challenging especially if you don’t have a business partner or another team member where you can bounce off ideas. What I incorporated into my routine is I make every effort to work at least once a week in co-working space to meet other entrepreneurs and also go to at least one networking event once a week in order to meet and share with other entrepreneurs.
How important it is for women of colour to be represented in beauty campaigns by the major beauty brands?
It’s important so that we don’t feel excluded and that we don’t associate a brand with a skin tone but rather be able to shop anywhere.
What more do you think can be done to make women of colour feel included in the mainstream beauty world?
I think there should be more variety for women of colour in the mainstream beauty world especially in colour cosmetics as very often either the brand doesn’t have a variety of different darker shades or doesn’t cater at all for darker skin tone.
What are you currently learning about your business?
There is quite a few support and other avenues to get your business out there and all I need is research to look for them and be open about doing different things.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
It’s better to do things that you want now rather than look back one day and regret for not giving it a go.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs starting a skincare line?
Be realistic and be patient.
Would you do anything differently?
No. I do not get everything right or perfect how I want but it’s all part of the learning process and experience.
Can you tell me three things you are grateful for?
Family, Health and the places I have had the chance to travel to.
What is your favourite quote or an affirmation that inspires you?
Everything comes to you at the right time for you.
How can we connect with you? Can you tell us your social media platforms?