Continuing our series of profiles of women of colour making their mark across industry and in entrepreneurship
Shalom Lloyd is Procurement Transformation Leader at Roche Products Ltd a leading global pharmaceutical company focused on making a difference in patients’ lives by developing and marketing innovative medicines across a range of disease areas (cancer and rheumatoid arthritis) targeted to the needs of individuals. Alongside this incredibly busy role, two years ago, Shalom launched Naturally Tribal, a UK skincare company that uses Mother Nature’s gifts to create natural products.
What drove you to start your own business?
Naturally Tribal Skincare was born out of personal experience. Through the combination of my African heritage mixed with an English twist, I solved my child’s skincare problem naturally without chemicals and felt like a ‘hero’ mum.
My boy twin Joshua was my very first customer! Joshua, was covered in eczema from birth and I spent months combining lotions, creams, emollients, teas – you name it – to stop his ‘scratch until drawing blood’ dilemma. So I tapped into my African heritage exploring recipes used for generations for skincare and it miraculously only took three days for Joshua’s skin to become what it should have been at birth. And this is how Naturally Tribal Skincare was born! My entire family now use my products and are my best clients and biggest critics.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
Physics, Chemistry, Biology – those were the subjects I felt most comfortable with from a young age and they have led me to work in an industry I love, where I can make a difference. I qualified as a pharmacist and today, work as a Transformation Leader at Roche Products Ltd.
So I work in an industry where the key difference between one company, one idea or any solution and another is ‘Innovation’. A competitive edge in our world today requires innovation in our thinking, our products and our services – taking risks, thinking outside of our comfort zone.
Innovation happens when we change our mind-set, when we see opportunities in everything we do on a daily basis. We live in a world where I see the perfect mix of Science, Technology and Nature colliding – with ‘innovation’ as a catalyst. Personally, I visualise that mix and see how throwing in my African heritage (invoking ‘thousands of years’ remedies) could benefit a lot of ailments being treated or soothed. So to answer your question, I am still navigating upwards through my career path and enjoying running my own business!
Tell us about the business planning stage (for example: did you write a business plan? did you contact any business support agencies?)?
I am one of those annoying people who truly believe that nothing is impossible. I am a driven woman who isn’t afraid of making innovative and daring decisions and resolutely refuses to ever be afraid to ask the question or fail.
“It is better to be prepared and not have an opportunity, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared” (L. Brown). I have lived by that quote for as long as I can remember! I have written over twenty business plans – an idea pops up, I put it on paper, sometimes shelve it and move on to the next. I am always ready! I worked my way from the ground up in the pharmaceutical industry and my previous roles included proposal/ tender writing, business development and business management – all of which somehow prepared me for where I am today.
I did a lot of research, understood my market, my competitors and did my homework before writing my business plan. I frankly felt I was best placed to do this, after all, it was and is my idea.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
Husband – “So what’s the plan this weekend”?
Me – “Nothing”
Husband – “But if you knew, what would it be?”
That’s a dialogue that repeats itself almost every weekend between my other half and I. I am a planner and although I deny it sometimes, I tend to plan for today and tomorrow. When I had my twins three and a half years ago, I think I project managed and planned their routine to perfection. Sad, I know but like I said previously, “It is better to be prepared and not have an opportunity than to have an opportunity and not be prepared”. I am always prepared, I was prepared and ready when the ‘Naturally Tribal’ opportunity presented itself.
Being organised keeps me on track plus, seeing the difference I make in my life, my family’s life and the lives of people I come in contact with motivates me like crazy.
Can you describe a typical working day?
There is no such thing as a typical day!
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
On the 21st of June 2017, I received an email just after 2pm informing me that Naturally Tribal Skincare had been selected as an Export Champion for the Third Cohort of the Commonwealth First programme. WOW! I did not appreciate at the time, what that meant but when I look back today, that was a pretty phenomenal day for a company that launched its products in February 2017
What has been your scariest moment?
There have been quite a number of scary moments but I think those moments when I ask myself if all this sacrifice is ‘worth it’ are the scariest!
How do you work on making your business grow?
Everything we do in life is all about relationships, about people! You can have the best product or the best service but if no one knows about it, believes in it, feels it, touches it, buys into it, what’s the point?
This business has grown and will continue to grow because of the relationships and contacts I have tapped into, developed and formed through the journey.
I believe in what we are doing, I believe in my products, I believe in our mission and vision, I believe in the amazing team that surrounds me.
We know our market, we are constantly learning about our customers every day, we are networking, we put ourselves out there, we are relentless, we work hard………………..and our business is growing.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
I make decisions quickly, we are nimble and agile, if it’s not working, we fix it right there and then. I get to be the one who puts pressure on myself knowing that my successes and failures are all down to me.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them
The big ‘F’ !!!!! Is the biggest challenge I have faced to date. For any start up, Funding can be the difference between success and failure. Yes we’ve had to raise funds to get to where we are but it has all been self-funded to date.
I remember being told at the start that we would need at least £500k to start and recall thinking – ‘I might as well pack up and go home’ but as I said, I am one of those annoying people who truly believes that nothing is impossible. So we found a pace that stretched us but worked and trying to grow organically. It doesn’t mean that if we do get access to funders, we won’t explore that route though.
I have had to fully utilise my network of contacts to obtain skills and expertise for free, for a share in the company or at least at mates’ rates. I have also not been afraid to negotiate and sell the future of the business to suppliers and key partners. There are various government funding avenues available out there and one must never be afraid to tap into them – Your local Chamber of Commerce, Department of International Trade etc..
The second challenge is ‘Time’ BUT I always say that if something is fun it ceases to be a chore and one always makes time!
Cheating a little here as I can’t choose one given that I have three sets/ groups of ‘people’ I admire and look to for inspiration as a business owner:
My husband (David Lloyd) – a man who is mildly dyslexic but has worked his way up and now successfully runs his own business. A man who had the confidence to go pursue his passion, go back to university as an adult, has a passion for people and has the ability to see things through other people’s eyes. A man who is an equal but lifts me at any opportunity.
My Children – As my biggest critics and biggest fans, my children keep me on my toes and when I look into their eyes, I realise that I cannot afford to give up
The Self Made ones – I admire and look up to business women and men who have built their businesses from scratch, from nothing, from just an idea. Oprah, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, JK Rowling, Zhang Xin, Henry Ford to name a few.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
Everything we do in life is about relationships! That is something I have come to learn from my husband, David. He taught me that how we relate to, communicate and interact with others, how we make them feel is important.
So his best advice to me is a Maya Angelou quote – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I try to make sure I leave everyone I meet with the feeling that ‘they matter’.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
I would like to recommend books and resources (I love TED talks –they are real!) which have helped shape me personally as a business owner.
I have chosen two books, one that inspires me and the other fed my soul:
- Steve Jobs – The story of a true entrepreneur, who linked an idea to innovation and brought them both to reality
- The SHACK – A book that fed my soul and honed in the fact that all we do is about relationships
- This talk taught me that I have to look after ‘me’ to be fit enough to change the world. A story about transformation! – Lisa Nichols on Rescuing Yourself, Overcoming Fear, and Finding Success By Serving Others: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSxhIp4l1DY
- The Ted Talk, helped me to make sure I understand and explain the ‘Why’, a great constant reminder for me today of why we need to explain the ‘Why: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA
- About being a woman, daring to be different, some lessons to be learned: 3 lessons on success from an Arab businesswoman
- One of the best for me – Shut up and listen: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
Family time is precious! I have no hobbies per say but love to travel! I LOVE cruising holidays with my family because for a mind like mine which seems to always be on the ‘go’, being at sea really does shut me down!
Connect with Shalom:
Shalom won The Outstanding Woman in STEM Award at the 11th Annual PRECIOUS Awards