The spark for her to venture into the natural beauty space started as a hobby, where Corium Naturals was born, an area in which she had an organic interest in. Vuyi had started making skincare elixirs for herself and close friends as a past time. She received good feedback, which encouraged her to start offering these products for money.
Vuyi spent a considerable amount of time researching natural skincare and traditional skincare practices of African and Indian people. This is how Corium was born. Vuyi shares with SLA contributor, Anelisa Kasper, her journey in starting Corium Naturals.
What was the spark that lead you down the natural beauty industry to start Corium Naturals?
Organic interest in beauty and personal care and a generally experimental nature. I love all things relating to personal beauty and the interest was born of that.
Are you highly involved in the making of your skincare products? Was it fairly easy to learn the skill? What have been the benefits and challenges of making the products yourself (if you still make them yourself)?
Yes I am. I have partners who supply the raw materials and whose guidance we rely on, and who have “trained” us in some areas, such as the new addition of ECOCERT certified preservatives. The products are largely hand crafted and only the black soap is received already fully made from our partner in Ghana. The products are not complex to make.
The challenge that we have faced with hand crafted cosmetics is batching; you have to get the measurements and batching identical so that the end user satisfaction is uniform. When we experience a bad batch, it results to wastage therefore we take the utmost pride in making sure that the products are of the best quality achievable.
How do you ensure that your products are safe for your customers to use?
Our partners provide Certificate of Analysis of the raw inputs and testing dates, as well as expiry dates. Our partners carry SOIL, ECOCERT, FDA and BCS Oeko-Garantie certification and registration. They have the labs and resources which test everything and declare it safe for cosmetic use. This is a highly important part of the business.
The shea butter and African black soap are received from Ghana and our supplier is part of the Global Shea Alliance and adheres to Fair Trade principles.
You started Corium Naturals while having a full-time profession, how has the journey been from when you started your own business and to where it is now? Has the corporate/start-up balance been smooth?
I would still say that I have not perfected the balance and I probably will never feel that it is perfect. However, it works for me –as a professional and business owner. My profession is to assist businesses optimize their performance and to solve business problems. Entrepreneurship is also defined as solving a problem for the consumer. In my head, I see the two easily complementing each other.
It isn’t smooth at all times, but what I learn from one, I can transfer to the other. It is a tough journey, and I am not sleeping enough. However, the journey is rewarding.Vuyi Zondi: What I learn from my corporate job, I can transfer to my start-up Click To Tweet
Where do you see Corium Naturals in the next year, or two years? How do you plan to grow it?
I would like to see Corium listed in more stores –we have just entered our first listing at Plush Luxury Concept Store in Braamfontein.
I want Corium products to be ECOCERT certified in their formal form, rather than the certification of the separate input ingredients.
Maintaining the fast growth of Corium Naturals is a great achievement, what keeps you going to ensure that it becomes an empire and who are your biggest cheerleaders that motivate you to keep going?
The fast growth of Corium has taken myself and the team by surprise. It has been exponential. That puts us under pressure because we have to perform to that standard and keep the magic formula. What we have done really well is our marketing strategy, especially on digital platforms.
What keeps me going is my strong hunger for achievement and my own private ambitions. I also have a great network of friends and supportive family. They are so supportive.What keeps Vuyi Zondi going is her strong hunger for achievement Click To Tweet
What advice would you give to women looking to venture into the natural beauty space?
Do your research, read up from credible sources. Reach out to the suppliers of raw materials because they have a wealth of knowledge and guidance. Become a sponge, always soaking in new knowledge and new learnings.
Do your market research and find out what the market wants.
Corium has grown from the online shop, to being stocked at a physical store in Johannesburg. Please tell us where SLA readers can get hold of your products, the different kinds of products you stock and where the physical store can be found.
We have soap, cleansers, serums, facial masks, and body butters. All of these are available on our online store, and our best sellers are found at Plush Luxury Concept Store, 38 Melle Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
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