Movers and Shakers | Nyasha Matanda | Silkebee Skincare
Nyasha Matanda is the founder of Silkebee Skincare which she launched four years ago.
“Silkebee Skincare Ltd is a natural skincare brand that was born out of a desire to soothe my daughter’s dry skin condition. Making healing skincare is a family tradition that can be traced back a few generations, most recently to my grandmother who sold skincare in my grandfather’s farm shop during colonial Zimbabwe. “
What drove you to start your own business?
I have an LLB Law with Business degree from Kingston University, London. However, since I can remember I have always wanted to be my own boss.
It was during my maternity leave after my daughter developed a severe dry skin condition that I started to turn a necessity into a business. I started to make the Silkebee baby balm to help soothe my daughter’s skin. Having tried emollients that had not worked, she had been prescribed a steroid that seemed to do more harm than good.
So I set about in the kitchen and found a formula that worked to soothe her itching, moisturise her skin and increase cell turnover. Her skin improved so much that other mum’s at the Mum and Baby groups we attended wanted to know what I used. Under UK law you cannot, gift or sell skincare without cosmetic safety certification. I paid for my formulation to get tested and certified safe for babies. It was at that point that I started to build my brand.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
My background is in healthcare regulation. I have worked for professional regulators and NHS litigation.
Tell us about the business planning stage (for example: did you write a business plan?
I wrote my own business plan. It is an ever changing document and it helped that I had the knowledge from my degree.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
Five years in advance, I am finding that since COVID- 19, I need to make some changes to fit the new climate.
My closest friends are all creative intelligent women, some are in business themselves and others are life coaches. They hold me to account, are supportive and are some of my best customers. I use my own products on my skin and my daughter’s skin, this is a constant motivational factor, almost like a living vision board.
Can you describe a typical working day?
I still have a 9 – 5 so most of my work is done in the evenings and weekends.
I prepare orders in bulk so I have stock waiting. I make the trip to the post office on a Saturday morning to post all orders that have either been made through Amazon UK or the Silkebee website.
If I am attending an event or show, I prepare extra stock if needed on the evenings and weekends leading up to the day. I have an IZettle card reader for card payments so that sales can be put through at the event/show. So my typical day is actually filled with school runs and a 9-5. My evenings and weekends are used for any calls or emails with partners and suppliers and/or social media management.
What has been the most amazing day in your entrepreneurial life so far?
Can I give three?
The day Silkebee was published as a Harper’s Bazaar Beauty edit. (January 2017)
The day Naima Mora (America’s Next Top Model cycle 4) promoted us in a social media video. I met Naima when she was in the UK on her Model Behaviour book tour. She has since given further feedback on how our balm gave her confidence during New York fashion week 2019.
The day I met singer/actress Beverly Knight MBE at the Shades of Beauty Live Show 2019. She was lovely and didn’t hesitate to try my products, and listen to my story. She loved the lavender balm and gave great feedback after taking it on holiday.
What has been your scariest moment?
Attending my first Mum and Baby Show. Meeting my customers face to face was a daunting experience at first, but the more shows I did the better I felt. The instant feedback that I get when people try the product is instant and invaluable. Being mainly online based it is nice to interact with existing and potential customers.
How do you work on making your business grow?
My aim has been to grow the business organically, using social media, attending events, working with brand ambassadors, subscription boxes and beauty apps. Progress has been at a steady manageable pace as I have taken the time to partner up with brands that are in line with Silkebee’s ethos.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Silkebee is not just a business, it is my purpose. A calling that I would never have seen coming. It keeps me grounded in the knowledge of where I come from. Confidence in my lineage and that I am following a family tradition that had been a part of my family for generations. So as my own boss I stand tall because I stand on the backs of those that came before me.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
Working for myself is hard work. At times you can become unsure of yourself and the best way forward. I have a business advisor from my local council who is a wealth of advise, information and support.
It can take time away from my personal life. What I have started to do is teach my daughter how to make skincare too. If I am making a batch on an evening or weekend she makes her own to use at home. Trips to the post office are also done together so she helps me carry parcels for drop off. She has attended some shows with me and has printed her own Silkebee T-shirt which she loves.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I admire Rihanna and Beyonce, as fellow black women who have managed to create brands that really speak to their market. The fact that they use and wear their own brands. Beyonce comes from a line of seamstresses and I can relate to the continuation of a generational skill.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
I was told to work on my personal brand by a few people, a friend in marketing, a cousin studying an MBA. The further I dug into who I was, the more confidence I got to tell my story and tie it into the of the Silkebee Brand.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
Your local Council – access to business advisors, networking events, business incubators and competitions.
A personal recommendation would be: The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle. It helped me deal with stress and the importance of living in the present moment. It’s so important to stay balanced as a business owner.
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I love to dance, so I attend masterclasses as and when I can. Mostly , I dance at home and sometimes post videos on Instagram. My favourite genre is afrobeats.
Connect with Nyasha on Facebook and Instagram: @silkebeeskincare