Funmilaya Aiyenuro graduated from university three months ago, and she’s ready to get started as a young entrepreneur. She’s literally putting the ingredients of her business together.
She’s be doing consultations and training in making your own natural cosmetics, and providing clients with bespoke natural beauty products.
Currently she’s finalising her recipes, getting her products tested, and building her network of contacts.
My budget goes up every day as new costs come along that I hadn’t anticipated
She hopes to raise £6,000 of funding from the Bright Ideas Trust or LiveUnltd, although she’s finding that her budget goes up every day as new costs come along that she hadn’t anticipated.
For trade shows “the price to hire a stall at the first couple I looked at was about £30-60. So I thought, OK, 20 events a year, and put that in my budget. But then I started looking at the bigger trade shows and the minimum basic stall hire was going up to about £700-£1,000 and I was just blown away.”
“I hadn’t factored that in at all. So I’ve reduced the amount of shows I’m going to go to, but increased the price I’m willing to spend on a single event.”
“I want to start off as a small business, but I also want to start off as a known business. I don’t think people always trust small businesses. They might think, she hasn’t had that much experience, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”
People can use words like natural or organic in their branding but the products are full of synthetic chemicals
She tells me that with cosmetics, although new products are supposed to be tested before they go on sale, a lot of people don’t, and there isn’t any enforcement of the EU legislation in this area.
“There’s a list of ingredients you’re not allowed to include in cosmetics, and if you’re introducing a new chemical you do have to get clinical testing etc.”
But for people using established ingredients, “there’s no checking up on the regulations around whether these people have the right manufacturing practices, are they introducing microbes, are they using the right preservatives.”
Plus people can use words like natural or organic in their branding but the products are full of synthetic chemicals.
It took Funmilaya a while to figure out how to get her products tested. She researched it on the internet, she even read the relevant legislation, to pinpoint what she needed to know, what she needed to do, and who she needed to inform. She tracked down a chemist to check her products and processes for her.
It’s an accomplishment to have something that you’ve built up from the ground
As I talk to her, I’m pretty impressed with how clued-up she seems in having figured this stuff out. I ask her what kind of help and support she’s managed to tap into along the way.
First of all it turns out her degree was in pharmacology and physiology. “I was looking at all these chemicals that we use, that can cause cancer and we use them every day on our skin. They accumulate on our skin and in our bodies. They move through our skin into our blood and into our livers. And I thought, what could I do to prevent this from happening?”
During her degree she went to some entrepreneurial workshops and seminars, and after graduation she took part in a course from the Young Entrepreneurs Programme, organised by Adwoa Agyemang. The course showed in detail how to get started, and she received mentoring from a fellow youngpreneur afterwards.
To keep the wolf from the door she was working as a play worker, but got made redundant following the cuts in public spending.
She’s doing some volunteering as well, with Women in Enterprise, a charity which works to recognise the achievements of women of African origin. She’s pleased with the variety, it helps keep her from going crazy putting all of her focus on just one thing.
Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right
But she’s keen to get going, and ride the wave of interest in natural products. She realises that if her funding applications don’t come through, she may need to bide her time, while she works and saves up, to raise the cash to fund her business.
She’s wanted to start her own business since she was in secondary school. “It’s an accomplishment to have something that you’ve built up from the ground, from scratch.”
I ask if there’s anything she’s finding worrying as she pushes ahead with her project, and she tells me she’s not carefree, but she’s not worried either. She sees it as a matter of attitude. “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Funmilaya will be offering consultations and training in natural beauty products, and providing clients with bespoke natural cosmetics, www.layalovesinc.co.uk