Movers and Shakers |Cheri Simon |Esri Skincare
Cheri Simon is the founder of Esri Skincare, an ethically-sourced, luxurious and natural skincare line specifically for the health-conscious, 30 something and over woman who knows herself on a spiritually conscious level, dares to be non-conformist and is free spirited.
What drove you to start your own business?
Looking back, becoming an entrepreneur was a natural choice. I’ve always gone against the grain, valued freedom, and rebelled against anyone telling me I can’t. So breaking free from a 12 year unsupportive, uninspiring marriage and coming out the other side of a challenging divorce, I knew I needed to honour the real me, do something empowering and prove to myself and all the naysayers not only, that ‘I CAN’ but that I am capable of amazing things.
I also want to instil this mindset into my 17 year old daughter. She being a young black woman, the world will try and test her resolve. I want to be her role model and show her that she has the spirit of a powerful woman and she can do anything and not let anyone tell or show her differently.
Thinking about how I could combine my interests, talents and desire to inspire women to love themselves, I kept coming back to aromatherapy. Prior to my marriage, I was always interested in natural remedies, essential oils, reiki, reflexology etc. Anything that reflects beauty within and without. I discovered I had gift of blending essential oils for a specific purpose. I loved it…
Then I fell in love with my (now ex) husband who wasn’t on the same plane and my passions took a back seat. However, I always looked after my skin and have seen it as a ritual which allowed me to consistently practice mindfulness which over the years has kept me sane and grounded. I wanted to create the same powerful opportunity for other women so they can be healed on a spiritual level and access their divine feminine and this is what I set out to achieve with my business.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I worked within HR as a Global Recruitment Business Partner in the Third Sector. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my career, something was missing. I needed to be my own boss.
Tell us about the business planning stage (for example: did you write a business plan? did you contact any business support agencies?)?
I previously owned my own Education recruitment agency from 2003 to 2008, supplying teachers and nursery staff. When the recession hit in 2008, like many businesses big and small, I was forced to close down.
That experience taught me several valuable lessons that I use now. I don’t look for perfection, I go with the flow, worry less and trust myself so much more. However this does not mean that I fly by the seat of my pants either. When it came to Esri Skincare I wrote a business plan; as it is crucial to know the direction the business is heading and how.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
So far I have planned yearly and break that into monthly and weekly manageable chunks. I also use daily to do lists. They are my best friend. I get great satisfaction crossing off my tasks one by one.
I’m a fairly upbeat person and I like to motivate myself by playing eighties grooves in the background as I work.
Can you describe a typical working day?
I start each day at 7am with exercise and light stretches, sometimes I go for a walk. Next it’s breakfast, I can’t function without it. I check and respond to emails from customers and suppliers. I check for new orders and double check the orders I’ve already made and ready them for postage.
Then I carry out my engagement strategy on IG, using posts and personal stories. I keep in touch with my followers and comment on their posts. I look for interesting people that I would like to follow. I encourage interaction. It helps me to understand who my customers are and what they want. I also use Instagram to find like minded individuals that will help me carry by business forward. There is a lot of opportunity to help other businesses. I adhere to the notion of reciprocity and it works for me.
I also read up on natural skincare articles on industry led websites to find out what is happening in the natural skincare sector. Keeping abreast of who’s who and any changes in this sector, helps me to know how to pitch Esri Skincare in the market place. In between all of this sometimes I put a wash on!
What has been your scariest moment?
The scariest moment was starting. The main difficulty was myself. Getting over myself, I was a little scared and I had niggling doubts and kept thinking about the ‘what ifs’.
I went through a very challenging divorce and got through it. I woke up and realised that if I can get through this, I can do anything. Therefore, I took the first step and just started. I would say to anyone wanting to start a business that you will never truly feel 100% ready, so just start. Let go and go with the flow.
How do you work on making your business grow?
I have done this by making opportunities or grabbing them. I was approached by Vanity Fair to feature my products in their magazine, from there I was able to secure features in British Vogue and Glamour UK over a six month period. This led on to Hinton Magazine, an online lifestyle magazine, to do a front page editorial with full interview. This has created a lot of exposure for Esri Skincare.
With this behind me in such a short period of time I was able to apply and be approved for a pop up shop in a very well known department store. So watch this space.
I would definitely suggest going with any opportunity not matter how big or small as you don’t know where it will lead. Also connecting with others in the same business is a good idea, as there are people who become mentors and will help you. I would not have progressed this far and so quickly if it were not for special people that I have met along the way. You know who you are.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Freedom to make executive decisions and flexibility of the hours of work. I also get to pick who I’d like to work with. I love that there is no one telling me “No” or “You can’t”, no office politics. Most of all I can be my authentic self, no code switching. This allows me to flow and be the best me I can be. Who wouldn’t love that?
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them
Choosing what you’re going to work on
Usually, in a day job, you’d have a defined scope of what you need to do with your manager setting your priorities. The advantages of having your own business is that you will make these decisions yourself, however the challenge is that you have no one telling you what to do.
I have to figure out what to say yes to, what to decline, what my priorities are and this can change on a daily basis. I overcome this by having a plan. I decide what is my biggest priority and what actions I must take to get tangible results.
I also choose one thing that will make a difference. Another important aspect is to ensure that I include both personal and professional priorities eg. Taking proper breaks, blocking out time for friends and family (now via Zoom).
Knowing when to stop
It is easy to blur the lines between work and play when you work at home, especially when you are super motivated about your business. You have so much to do and you want to get it all done. It is so easy for work to spill into your personal time. The risk of crashing and burning is so high.
To get round this I set up physical and virtual boundaries. I have a designated corner for just my business and I put my phone on silent during dinner and shut down my laptop at the weekend. Although my week is not a traditional Mon – Fri, 9-5pm, I communicate the boundaries to my family so they know when I am available for them.
Working in a vacuum
In a corporate environment I would have had a Director and be part of a team, liaising with different departments. Working for myself I may have the final say, however I have no one to brainstorm with, no feedback and no second opinion. I am the CEO, Manager and employee. To help me I lean on a couple of trusted friends and I have mentors to bounce ideas with. When I get a huge win, I celebrate with a nice Prosecco or if I have had a tough week, I reward myself with a home spa. It is important to acknowledge and recognize the incredible progress that you make.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I admire Amenti The Awakener, you can find her on IG. She’s an international bestselling author, holistic health consultant, spiritual healer & therapy trainer. She is inspirational to me as she has a passion for assisting people from all walks of life, in moving beyond their limitations and awakening to the true power within.
One of her sayings is “You are the master of your own reality! Time to take back your power and dance in your magic! Health, wealth, power and success are all yours for the taking! Lets Get it!”
This really resonates with me.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
How do you expect to become the most successful version of yourself if you’re not willing to take risks and make yourself uncomfortable. – Montelle Bee (a mentor).
This really helped me push myself and to not shy away from the unknown
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
Gary Vaynerchuk – the no nonsense entrepreneur, author and speaker, The Alchemist by Paul Coelho, an inspirational and captivating book on the wonders of the spiritual universe and wix.com to help build your website
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
Good food and drink and music. I also love to spend time with my daughter, playing Just Dance on the Wii, she always wins!
Esri Skincare won the Start up Business of the Year Award at the 2020 PRECIOUS Awards.
Connect with Cheri: