Continuing our series profiling women of colour making their mark in the world of business. Precious Jason is the founder of Etieno Skincare Ltd an independent retailer of natural, therapeutic, ethical and effective skin care products.
What drove you to start your own business?
After a cancer diagnosis in 2012, I was desperate for natural products to soothe and repair my skin. I was also after products that were safe (free from chemicals and without any harmful side-effects.) I also wanted to do something positive with my life by giving back to the cancer community and Etie’no skincare is just that.
We create lovely products that help people feel and look their best and also support two cancer charities – Shine Cancer support and look good feel better (LGBF). I struggled with self-confidence after treatment so I understand first hand the challenges cancer treatment can have on a person’s ability to face the world. I get to provide the products to help people feel beautiful and together we support people going through a tough time.
I feel really blessed to be in the middle of it all.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I graduated with a degree in law and trained as a chartered secretary. A 360° turnaround
Tell us about the business planning stage.
I started out with passion. I had an immediate problem that needed to be fixed. So my first job was actually playing with ingredients and seeing if they worked. The business plan came in the second month and still is a work in progress. I don’t think I’ll be able to put a full stop on it as I am constantly learning and improving every day.
I spent time networking and learning about the business side of things. I found it extremely useful as it saved me time and money and I would recommend that people starting out in business should devote time to planning the business and setting goals. Seeing your vision on paper gives clarity and fuel for the journey.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I tend to plan three months in advance and then break it down into monthly, weekly and daily goals. I use business planners and create time during the week to fit in. Things don’t always go according to plan but at least I have structure.
I also have a wonderful accountability partner and we check up on each other during the week.
I genuinely love what I do and getting great feedback from my customers motivates me. Knowing that I’m solving a problem and helping people look and feel great about themselves gives me such a buzz.
Can you describe a typical working day?
No such day just yet. I work part-time as I’m still concentrating on getting better health wise. On most days, the first thing I do is to plan my day, look through orders and enquiries and tackle the hardest job first. I really enjoy speaking to customers and look forward to emails.
I also spend time talking to the various freelancers I work with. Some of them are in different countries so it’s always interesting trying to get everybody on a call at the same time.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
I have been very fortunate to have been nominated for three business awards in five months of running my business. It has taken me by surprise. I only ever wanted to make great products and empower people like myself going through cancer treatment, so it is a big honour and motivates me to be better.
I wrote an article for the beauty therapy industry magazine which was published earlier this year. Seeing my article in print was really special and gave me brownie points with mom.
The most amazing day for me was quite recent, a national cancer charity connected me to a fantastic business powerhouse who offered to mentor me. She had seen my website the night before, had heard about me and didn’t think I was crazy. To have someone like her believe in me and what I do, as well as offering to help me make more of an impact to society is a beautiful thing and I am deeply grateful. I am really looking forward to rocking my brand with her.
What has been your scariest moment?
Handing over my first product to the first person who tried it was a really scary time. It was what is now the Renew Skin Balm. I was terrified. Thankfully the product worked. It soothed her skin and she slept better and she asked if I could make some for her. She never has to buy the skin balm now so it was a win-win situation!
How do you work on making your business grow?
By listening. I listen to my customer needs, I ask for help and I give everything my best shot. I also look out for people who are passionate about what they do, I look for ways to collaborate with them. I try not to do things I am not too good at, because it is a waste of valuable time, resources and energy. I believe if you ask for help people are so kind and so wonderful and willing to help so we do it all together.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
I am doing something I am really passionate about. I believe I’m here for purpose and I get to fulfill my purpose through my work. I always wanted to do something meaningful with my life and being my boss means I get to do just that.
I also love the fact that I get to use the creative part of my brain every day and I get to work with wonderful people on exciting projects
Working for myself can be isolating at times. There is no colleague next-door that I can ask questions of. I have joined business groups for women so I have help when I need it. The only downside is that the groups are online, so I still have to make my cups of tea.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
There are so many amazing women business owners and I admire their tenacity, strength courage and grit.
Claire Mitchell of The Girls Mean Business , Sophie Jewry of the Brand Kitchen , Mavis Amankwah of Rich Visions, Sandra Pollock of Open Mind coaching , Griselda Kumordzie Togobo of AWOVI and Akua Wood of Sheabutter Cottage,are women who work hard, balance gracefully and create platforms to support other women in business. I love that.
My friend Sarah Ezekiel is an eye gaze artist. She is incredible. She inspires me everyday. Anyone who has overcome adversity of any kind to start a business that impacts the world is my hero
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
“Your pain has a purpose.”
This advice was from my mom when I was going through treatment and wondering if I would make it. I now understand that my business is a vehicle for making the difference, one product at a time. That piece of advice defines why do what I do the way I do it
What are the 3 books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
Enterprise Nation- Brilliant workshops and networking days
Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I really love her books
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I love to cook, I love to read a great book and I love travelling. Spending time with family is also a wonderful way of relaxing
Connect with Precious via Facebook: etienoskin | @etienohq