Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Our spring vendor, New Eden Skincare, was co-founded by Samantha, a student at the University of Birmingham. Learn more about this natural skincare line our latest Q&A.
How did New Eden Skincare come to be?
Originally it started because I liked making skincare products like body butter and body scrubs. Then friends and family started asking me to make some. I realised I needed to find some way to finance this hobby! When I first started thinking of how I could start this as a business, I tried to think of a way to make it stand out.
There are two key focuses. One is our values which are natural, ethical and honest. And the second is wellness. We have two sets of products. One is the lavender dream, which is all about sleep and relaxation. And then we have mango orange tropical glow which is a lot more energising. We also have a new citrus based body scrub that we’ll be releasing soon!
Walk us through the creative process, where and how do you source your ingredients?
When it comes to sourcing ingredients, we do source from a reseller because we are still working with smaller quantities. We do ask them to tell us where they receive their products - is it fair trade and stuff like that. Some supplies just don't want to be transparent about it. I think that their concern is if they tell us where the product is sourced, we might go directly to the source and then there's no need for them anymore. However we want to see that it's fair trade, everyone's paid a living wage, it is 100% natural, vegan and cruelty free and it's done in a sustainable way. We do push them about their benchmarks and then try to match the ones that we think are the most ethically sourced.
How do you create your products?
My co-founder and I do everything in house. For body butters, it’s basically how you treat the ingredients. It's about the temperatures, making sure you melt it at a certain rate, making sure it solidifies at the right rate and right temperature. Then we whip them so that they have a fluffy consistency. You can use a normal hand whisk or the big electric mixers. Everything is then hand piped or collected and packaged into the labeled jars.
We've got a big wholesale focus at the moment. We do get orders of 20 and then we also get orders that are 600. So we try and [make a batch] every month. Then once they're sold out, they're sold out for the month. That way, it's easier to manage.
Favourite product to make?
My favourite product to make is probably the mango orange butter, the mango orange butter and the lavender dream body butter. Just because they’re the most simple. With the scrubs, there are so many ingredients. You have to make sure you're putting everything in at the right time to make sure you get the correct consistency and so on. But the mango orange body butter, I especially like it because it was like one of the first ones I ever made. It just became like a favourite for me. I love the texture and it's also like my favourite product in the range as well.
Greatest accomplishments and challenges as a business so far?
I'd say that the greatest achievements and the greatest challenges are probably the same thing. When we first started to get into wholesale, it was really new. We worried if we would be able to meet the deadlines! So in February, we did an order for 600 of our large scrubs. We had never done an order of this size before. But we did get it done. She was very happy with the finished product, which was the main thing. So it was a big achievement, but it was also the most challenging order that we've ever done.
How have you started changing your business to the wholesale market?
We haven't really decided on where we will be taking the business next [on moving into wholesale]. The focus at the moment is wholesale, once we buy the equipment and determine the best price, we can figure out how much that will cut down on the time making it, this should free up more time to dedicate to other areas of the business. And we will have a better idea of how many people we need to hire. I'm in uni at the moment, so I don't have all the time in the world to do this. I do have other commitments. So we're looking at a way to do it sustainably and affordably.
It is kind of scary thinking I'm going to trust somebody else because our business is my baby! However I do like the fact that we're moving in a growth direction, having to change things because there is more interest.
How do you balance uni and starting a business?
I think that starting a business [in uni] would probably be the best thing that I did. Some people definitely said "oh you should wait until you finish”. But one thing I learned is that the University of Birmingham, and I think a few other unis, have this programme where they have a mentoring or support group for those who want to start a business. They have bursaries so they'll actually invest in your business and then don’t expect you to repay any of the money. The kind of support that I've got from my uni is really good.
In terms of uni work and managing the business, it is extremely difficult. But in the same breath, because it is your business you can choose kind of how much effort you want to give it. For example, I know that I’m gonna have exams in May so I have a co-founder fortunately, who is not in uni, and can take orders. The other thing that I found very useful is that you learn so much when you build your own business. Even if you do want to work for somebody else when you finish uni, you can definitely keep your side business going. You have that extra advantage.
What does it mean to you to be Black owned business?
I think it’s really interesting because obviously I am a Black woman but I'm not really targeting Black women exclusively. One thing that I do know, I think maybe because of my life experiences, is that texture wise a lot of Black people do respond to our products. We get people of other ethnicities too. But it's really nice to know that when people see your product, they can see that this is a product for them.
In the past, I felt like vaseline or cocoa butter were the only two things that I could use. I’m not even a big fan of them! You also get these lotions that have amazing senses but I still look ashy. I would like to have a product that would make me look moisturised! It’s nice that my customers don't feel like an afterthought. They feel like “oh this is a product made for me.”
How are you adapting your business to COVID-19 environment?
I think that COVID has been the best thing for our business. Before we were doing a lot of market stalls. It is a lot easier to do face to face than it is online. The plan at the beginning of 2020 was that we wanted to do a market stall a few days a week. Then COVID said no you're not doing that.
So we wondered what can we do? I noticed that subscription boxes were obviously doing really well. You don't have to leave your house, everything comes to your door. So why don’t sell to them? I think it turned out a lot better than expected in terms of opportunity. Going forward, while we do have a strong wholesale focus, I think there will also be a market stall element.
Any advice for Black creatives or entrepreneurs?
Make sure that your business has a very clear purpose especially if you want to get investments. There's opportunities for grants and stuff like that so definitely look into that.
Also in terms of being a creative - whether it's cosmetics, art, jewellery or clothes, you really need to focus on who would appreciate your product. Your product might be beautiful. But if it's miniskirts and you're posting on LinkedIn, they're probably not that interested. It’s thinking through “how do I show that my business is designed for you”, because people love to feel like this is made with them in mind.