Posted: Tue 22nd Mar 2022
The eco-friendly, sustainable skincare brand, which has already revolutionised the lives of many struggling with the hugely common issue of dry skin, has grown from a small lockdown venture into an award-winning enterprise.
Read how personal difficulties, immense sacrifices, unspeakable dedication, and a sprinkling of Enterprise Nation goodness, propelled Juste Nature into the big time.
Tell me about your career background – did you always dream of becoming an entrepreneur?
“At 19, I left my beautiful island, Mauritius, to come to London to study fashion design, hoping to one day start my own clothing brand in Mauritius, but motherhood changed everything for me!
“I worked in the fashion industry in London for over 19 years until my youngest son turned nine months. As a mom of two young boys, I was struggling with juggling a baby, school runs and my freelance design work with tight deadlines.
“Something had to give; after feeling exhausted and unhappy, I decided to press pause on my design work for my mental and physical wellbeing, to just take time to enjoy motherhood, with my husband’s support.
“I always knew that eventually, I wanted to work for myself - how, what, when, I didn’t have a clue! But not knowing meant the possibilities were endless!
“There is this lack of self-belief and self-confidence that comes when you press pause on your career to focus on your family as a mother.
“But it was also a time for me to find my purpose again. It gave me the time to enjoy my family and explore other options without any added pressure or deadlines.”
Talk me through your current business, and how the idea came about
"My current business happened from a place of need and love.
"My eldest son’s skin became worse and worse as he got older. He struggled badly with eczema and dry skin from birth and had severe peanut allergies amongst others.
"As a family, we had to change the cleaning products we used, the food we ate and the products we used. The natural product journey started in 2009 and evolved gradually.
"Sadly, I put all my trust in my doctors and kept using the medicated steroid creams from a very early age. It thinned his skin, and it was a never-ending battle.
"To be honest, I have similar skin issues and was always prescribed the same steroid creams. So, something had to change!
"While on my ‘career break’, I decided to learn about the natural remedies for eczema and explore the different oils and butters that would help his skin.
"I started formulating mainly for my family for about two years - until lockdown happened.
"With the feedback and support of my family, I decided to set up my business very slowly in January 2020. But it was again very difficult to take my business further with two young children and no time to spend working on my business.
"I went on courses on weekends and worked on my formulations whenever I could.
"March 2020, the first lockdown, came to my rescue! My husband was working from home, then he was on furlough, and I became time rich!
"It was now or never for me; after three years of running from nursery to school pick up daily!
"I joined more courses online, perfected my formulations and officially launched my business on Instagram and Etsy in April 2020. Those were very small baby steps that helped my business grow organically.
"As a designer, I was able to use my skills for my packaging, skills that saved me time and money as a start-up.
"Had it not been for the pandemic, I don’t think that I would have achieved so much in so little time. It really gave me time and headspace to transform into a formulator and find my calling."
Many out there struggle with skin issues, so how much does it mean to see your product make a tangible difference to people’s lives?
“I live with dry skin issues and so does my son. I know and understand the struggles of daily skin issues and I can relate to the pain points of my customers.
“That’s why I do what I do. Each product I formulate solves a skincare issue my family or friends struggle with.
“It means so much to me to be able to help them love their skin again using a natural skincare alternative.
“The power of plants and seeds is simply amazing, something my late grandfather always used as remedies in Mauritius. He inspired me to get back to using nature for its healing powers.
“Every review I get drives me to better myself as a formulator. It is such a rewarding job! As I now go through perimenopause in my early 40s, my formulations can now help more women with their hormonal skin - something that I can now relate to.
“And that’s why I formulated my now award-winning Night and Day Facial Oil. It is so important to find a product that works for our skin and understand the benefits of each ingredient.
“It means a lot to me as a mother to know that my boys will grow up using products free from unnecessary ingredients that their body will absorb and cause harm in the long run.
“We, as a modern race, are constantly absorbing toxins that are causing so many different health issues, unknowingly. From the food we eat to our skincare and the toxins in the air.
“My son is almost a teenager, and to know that he won’t have to start using an antiperspirant, as I did for years, that contains aluminium salts which will block his pores, is such a relief!
“My award-winning Ylang Ylang Natural Deodorant Balm is my labour of love - it took me almost a year to perfect the texture and efficacy.
“All my products have to pass the family test, from my youngest to my husband, and they are very harsh critics, too!”
How important is sustainability and producing an eco-friendly product?
“Sustainability and producing an eco-friendly product is key to my business.
“I always struggled with the idea of buying plastic tubs of creams that would end up in the landfill. The number of creams I used to go through as a family was ridiculous!
“I felt awful. So, from the word go, I needed to find packaging that was easily recyclable and could be reused many times.
“That’s why I started with aluminium tins that can be reused or recycled many times, over and over again.
“There is so much more to learn regarding eco-packaging as I grow my business.
“Sustainability is also very key to my business. I always buy sustainably/ethically sourced ingredients from companies that I trust.
“With each sale made on my website, a tree is also planted, as part of Ecologi, a platform for real climate action, to help restore our planet together.”
You mention you’re an award winner! It must feel incredible to be recognised like this, not just once, but on multiple occasions
“These skincare awards, that always felt unattainable as a self-taught natural skincare formulator, mean so much to me.
“It is the seal of approval every formulator wants in order to grow their business.
“It is hard for women's voices and businesses to be seen and heard, and even harder for a brown woman-owned business to find a place in this very competitive market.
“To win one European award, after just a year of trading was fantastic. But two more - this time international awards - was beyond what I hoped to achieve as a fashion designer who pivoted her business, less than two years ago!
“Dreams do come true and there is no doubt in my head now that if I can do it, so can other minority women-owned businesses.
“As a young, brown woman working in the creative industry, I’ve faced both racism and sexism in the workplace, and that can really crush your self-worth and belief.
“I want to inspire girls and women from different ethnic backgrounds to believe in themselves more and not waver from what society expects from them. To do what they love and do it with love.
“Some narratives need to change in our society, especially for women and girls from different ethnic backgrounds.”
You are also an Enterprise Nation member. How has being a part of this community helped your business grow?
“It can be very lonely as a solo entrepreneur and sometimes you will get advice or criticisms from the wrong people in your circle.
“You need to surround yourself with the right community.
“Becoming part of Enterprise Nation has helped me find a community of like-minded business owners. I get to learn so much from your online webinars and connect with other members.
“There is always something new to learn as a small business and Enterprise Nation is a great platform to get inspired and learn.
“I would say just join! You have so much to gain from this lovely, supportive community! In fact, I am always inviting other small businesses to join! I enjoy it so much!”