What challenges have you overcome starting and maintaining your own business?
At the beginning the biggest challenge in starting the business was balancing it with other things such as school and now work. As a result, we are very intentional in how we schedule in time to get things for the business done and have also found ways to either simplify processes or outsource different parts of the business. For instance, we started working with Shipbob- they hold our inventory and ship out orders whenever they come through the system. We are in the process of still looking for manufacturers to work with as we want the business to grow and need to ensure we can meet our customers’ demand. Another challenge is definitely finding investors who are interested in a) the beauty industry b) supporting a social impact business c) a small business that is still in its infancy.
What makes your products different from others in the market?
The nekawa butter is based on a family recipe of mine that has been passed down to me from the women in my family in Senegal. We are unique in that our product is handmade, uses all organic and unrefined products to maintain the high quality of the product, we donate proceeds from sales to non-profits in Senegal that empower and educate young girls and women, and our product is multi-use for skin and hair.
What are your long-term goals for Nek.awa Beauty?
Long-term, we hope to continue to focus on creating all natural products with a focus on skin care. We ultimately want to create a line of skin care products that help our customers realize their natural beauty with simple to use products that are not time consuming.
What did you learn in your business classes that helped you prepare for Nek.awa Beauty?
We learned so much from Kelley! Our business actually came from our class Venture Planning, in which I pitched the idea to a few classmates and we formed a team. From there we created a business plan that included everything from financial projections, market research, and marketing strategies. Chelsea and I then took this and continued to do market research by sending over 100 samples and surveys to individuals in our target group. We then took this information and made a few changes before we officially launched in March. Many of the ways that we run the business today is a result of things we learned from either finance, marketing, operations, or our strategy classes. They provided us with solid cases and experiential learning opportunities that have allowed us to put things we learned to practice.
What are you most proud of regarding Nek.awa Beauty?
We are most proud of coming in 1st place at the Clapp Business Idea Competition in April. This showed us that we not only have a strong business plan and idea, but also know how to articulate it to a range of audiences.
What’s next for you and Nek.awa Beauty?
We hope to introduce a new product by the end of this year and are really excited for our customers to use it! We will be working with a small marketing boutique based out of LA in the upcoming month to help increase our social media engagement, reach new customers, and begin partnerships with influencers.