There was a time when it wasn’t easy for Tanzanian women to find a skincare product that was 100% natural and meant for the African skin. That was before Tanzanian-made African beauty brand, Nuya’s Essence came along.
Nuya’s Essence is a natural bath and body care brand that handcrafts natural products from botanical oils, butter, and herbs. The product is made from the purest botanical and non-toxic ingredients there is. Largely, the ingredients are sourced locally and from South Africa, Ghana, India, and Morocco.
Njeri Meja, our SLA contributor spoke to former beauty queen and formulator of Nuya’s Essence, Helen Dausen. She found out more about how Helen’s beauty queen past helped her business and the steps Helen takes to improve her hustle.
What motivated you to start Nuya’s Essence?
I have always been so careful about how I nourish my skin. I think I got it from my mother. As a young girl, she would apply olive oil and pure coconut oil on my sisters and I. I had also been unemployed and needed to do something about my life.
While in college, I wondered if I could get a quality soap to complement my beauty care routine. So I went looking and found some DIY ideas for soap. I started mixing stuff at home and sharing recipes with friends. I would also tell them what to apply or what food to eat and the like.
The idea of Nuya’s Essence first gained root in my heart in April 2013. However, we didn’t start marketing it publicly until in June 2014.
How did you start?
I started small with support from my parents. I began with making handmade skincare products from the backyard at home. I sold to my mom’s salon, farmers market, pop-up shops, and friends.
Did being a beauty queen help your business in any way?
Yes, it did.
As the crowned Miss Universe Tanzania 2010, people often asked about my skin and hair-care routines. That also fueled my decision to build a skincare brand.
Who is your target audience?
Actually, everyone can use my products. The marketplace is saturated with products made with harmful chemicals patronized by unsuspecting African women.
I wanted to create something great enough to be an option to the mainstream skincare products. Nuya’s Essence is for women looking to go all natural and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Tell us more about your range of products
Our natural skincare range is formulated to work with all skin types. The ingredients are carefully selected and suited for everyone. We do not add fillers, toxic chemicals or test them on animals.
Our products are recyclable, bio-degradable, eco-friendly and safe enough to be used by kids. It can be used on sensitive skin, very sensitive and mature skin.
We produce them in small batches with our customers’ satisfaction in mind and they do serve the purpose. Did I tell you that they also smell amazing? Oh yes, they do!
Currently, our product range includes natural handmade soaps, body oil, body butter, body scrub, 100% pure coconut oil, and raw shea butter. However, we keep working at developing new products.
How have you improved yourself as an entrepreneur?
I just completed a Mandela Washington Fellowship program for Young African Leaders. The intense 6-week-long program ended on the 4th of August 2016.
I worked hard at it and formed great partnerships and friendships. It was a great experience and boost for my personal and business growth. I look forward to better opportunities.
I have also done some training in natural/organic skincare formulation in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. There, I learnt the basics of formulating a perfect product. I still study online, read lots of books on the subject and strive to improve my beauty range or create new ones.
Any challenges? How do you mitigate them?
My biggest challenge so far is getting customers to believe in our products, especially women. I started using my products long before I sold them. This made me more comfortable and confident to tell other women about them. Personally, I have experienced the healing powers of plants and I have been able to achieve youthful, flawless, glowing and evenly-toned skin.
However, getting clients to believe in you is hard. To tackle this, I give free samples for trials and this has worked. They usually return with their friends and this time, they actually buy. Word goes round and we’ve done well so far.
How would you advice a woman looking starting something like Nuya’s Essence?
Fear will always be a constant factor but if used well, can be your propeller.
You may never enjoy absolute support. Money may never be enough. But girl, you can rise above it all. The trick is to start with what you have at the moment and then grow in small paces.
One of my favorite successful businessmen said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I believe there are so many opportunities out there. You just have to be ready to take them.
Be willing to take risks and accept failure as a learning curve. The only real failure is not trying at all. After all, what’s the worse that can happen?
Always believe in something. Personally, my hope and faith are in God. I am at peace with myself, my work and the people around me and that helps. I set out to glorify Him in everything I do as a person or business woman.
Always have something or someone to fall back on for support. You can never go wrong with this.
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