Zara Saleem's Delhicious, shares how she started with £250 , now she’s got a 50,000 person waitlist
Today we’re learning from Zara Saleem, the founder of Delhicious. A 100% natural Ayurvedic-inspired skincare brand that started in her kitchen while on mat leave.
And this has many important insights packed in here; for Zara it was a veryyyy slow start but at some point, the TikTok gods kicked in and changed the game. We also talk about how hard the challenges of building a business are, especially when we see the highlights splashed across social media. I loved this episode and felt like we can all relate to the ups and downs of building a business and what it truly entails.
When it comes to the financials, Zara was able to bootstrap Delhicious with a slow and steady approach. Starting with just a couple of hundred pounds, she was able to just wing it and see how far she could take this. Skincare's low barrier to entry is a huge help when it comes to this, it's totally doable to start a skincare business with a low initial investment. Start scrappy, go slow, prove out the concept, and just start there. If you're going to spend too much too early, you're going to feel that. More so emotionally you're going to feel that loss. So as much as you can, save and do things yourself before letting go. Relieve some of that pressure off your shoulders.
This was such an inspirational story that shows there is absolutely nothing truly stopping you from starting a business today.
And remember to pop your details onto our waitlist ahead of our upcoming announcement! Go to femalestartupclub.com/waitlist and we’ll see you there
Let’s get into this episode, this is Zara for Female Startup Club.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
So my name is Zara and my business is a Indian inspired skincare brand, which I started with my husband, I'm the co founder and yeah, it's it's been a very organic star, a very organic story of how we started. But yeah, but the gist of it is that we make asian inspired skin care and it's very much inspired by Ayurveda and if people don't know what Ayurveda is, it's a system of medicine. So it's one of the oldest healing systems in the world and very much inspired by that and it's inspired by our south asian roots. So amazing. Gosh, I'd love to understand kind of why you were thinking about starting this business, where does the story begin, where does that light bulb moment happen for you and how did you go from kind of, you know, I read that you were a teacher before? Teacher to entrepreneur. Yeah, I mean it's it's quite, it's just too crazy. It's a crazy story because I think initially I didn't think that I would end up where I am today. So yeah, I was, I mean I graduate from uni, didn't really know what to do um and kind of fell into teaching more so because I had, I had a passion of, I wanted to help people and that was my main thing, I was like I just want go into a field where you know, I'm working with people and I'm able to make somewhat of a difference, so it was kind of like an easy, just an easy career choice in that sense. But the way the business started, it's quite a, it's a bit of a strange story because in the sense that it wasn't an intentional decision to start a business. So I was actually pregnant with my daughter and I was on maternity leave at the time and I developed a really painful dry skin condition. So it was because I was pregnant, I didn't want to use any of the creams that the doctors were prescribing at the time, which is mainly steroid creams that they go straight for steroids, obviously being pregnant, didn't want to use those because I'm from south asian background, I've kind of grown up and I think a lot of people with a lot of South people experience this where you grow up using natural ingredients, which you're like grandma or your mom has passed down to you for any kind of ailment and that's whether you know you've got some problem with your hair or there's a problem with your skin, there's always a natural ingredient solution for it. So I come from a background of in the sense that my grandma used to create lots of different recipes and she was kind of known as a healer and she had these incredible formulations and incredible recipes which I guess I kind of grew up with not knowing actually how amazing they were because it's so ingrained in our culture which is like I'll go to to use these kind of ingredients. I started experimenting and formulating with my husband and we came across an ingredient which was black S. M. T. And I started using it as a topical body scrub and literally like my skin transformed within within the week, it was just it was completely different and then I think at that point we were like this is actually amazing, could we start a business off the back of this? Like is this something that people would want? And it was more again it came from the helping perspective which was like I want to be able to give this other pregnant women, like I wanted to be able to help other women who are suffering from this kind of thing who might be looking for a natural solution and at the time there was no product out there that was using this ingredient, like nobody was using indian black smt which is sourced from India and it has such incredible skin benefits. So it was just kind of like do we start with just this one product and see how it goes and that's literally it, like we just started off the back of that formula, you know, got clued up on all the legals and launched the business, I think it was like within three, I was still on maternity leave like when we launched it, so it was so crazy, it was like my second daughter as well and it was just like, it was just such a crazy time. But yeah, it was like such an unintentional start just kind of discovering something amazing, wow, I love that, gosh, your grandma must be so proud of you, that's just so amazing, gosh! Yeah, I mean it's just insane, like it just kind of happened off the back and yeah, we launched with one product and I think that's a misconception a lot of people have that you need to have a big range when you're stepping into a skin care market which is, it's such a heavily saturated market as it is, I think people have the idea of you need to have 10 products and you need to, you know have a whole range of, it wasn't the case, we started with one product and now we still have a small range but it's growing, we have five or six products now and we're slowly developing that, But I think it goes to show that you can just start with one thing and just see how it goes that really resonates with me. I used to have a jewelry brand and there were just so many different products and so much newness and it became actually really difficult to market because if you have one product, you can stack your marketing really clearly across all your channels, you can continue to build on ads, you can continue to have the same Creative like all those kinds of things stack on top of each other. But when you have 50 different products it becomes quite overwhelming. So I'm I'm all about the one product launch and I think it's actually really smart decision if that's the kind of offering that you can have, I'd love to kind of talk a bit more about how you got started, you know what you were doing in those early days to get ready to launch and bring this brand out into the world. You know, I think again, people have the idea of age being a factor when you're, when you're launching because I think people think, oh, you know, you have to be young and have all the time in the world. I had a toddler, she was one, she's one and a bit 1.5 and a newborn at the time. So for me, I was so stretched, I mean not even just having to deal with kind of starting the business and understanding all of that, it was just kind of getting to grips with juggling two small Children. I think it was really messy. It was such a messy start. I think there was no, like there was no actual workspace. We did, you know, we were at home, I didn't have an office space. It was very much like me and my laptop when I could find those pockets of time in the day to just research and and get my head around what needed to be done. And of course I had my husband who was, who was incredible, he was working full time and I was still on mat leave at the time. So I think we were in such a, such a chaotic season of our life. So it's hard, even when people say it to me, like how, like how did you start? It was kind of like, I mean, it was a lot of like we were just exhausted, we were just so exhausted because we were just trying to juggle our family life, just trying to get by and then to think about Yeah. And to think about branding and like, you know, thinking of your name and you know, getting trademarks done and all of the other bits that we were learning as we went and I had zero experience in the cosmetic industry and neither did my husband, but I had a passion for it and I just and I loved it, I loved the product and I knew that with the right branding with the right, you know, getting my story out there because it was so authentic. I think that's what I was concentrating on, but it's so hard to say like it was so messy, it's so messy. Was there was no like ours, it was just as and when I could I could describe it, scrappy start, literally, it was so scrappy. Are you like making these products in your kitchen and kind of making a batch that's ready to go or are you starting to market and then getting orders and making it on demand? What's the kind of model in the early days? So we were we were hand making. Yeah, we were hand making in our kitchen literally making small batches and even our packaging wasn't printed, it was just stickers, like we printed stickers slapping those on heat sealing ourselves and instagram I think was like my main place to start. I had no idea. I didn't even, I think a lot of people think you turn your website on, you're gonna get those orders. It just doesn't happen. I think our first order would have maybe came like a couple of months after we launched just because we were like sitting in this market that again is so saturated and I had no clue about marketing, I had no idea how to get the product out there. I think we started just started our instagram page and we got lucky in the sense that we we end up getting a lot of press quite early on when we launched, and that was just the basis of again, instagram and kind of just reaching out to other kind of south asian branded pages who then started re posting about us, and that's that was great, that was a really great start for us, because it got the attention of the BBC, the BBC got in touch and said you want to come on the radio? Oh my gosh, wow, Yeah, so I think it was such an organic, we didn't spend a penny, we did not spend a penny on ads, just because I think there's a lot of fear behind spending money on something that's so new, you just think, okay, I don't know what I'm doing, I don't know how to run ads, So a lot of it was just organic, kind of, reaching out, the same with them, we got a feature in harper's bazaar by was just hounding the journalists, like just hounding her, like just sending her emails, sending her DmS on instagram, and then she was like, okay, I'll try it, and she loved it, and then she wrote an article about it, what were you saying in those emails and messages, like how were you talking to her? I was just kind of like, I think I was, for me, it was like, I was just kind of telling her my story and saying, I've kind of, you know, we formulate this amazing product, do you want to try it? Like it was just as simple as that and of course a lot of time with journalists, you won't get a response. But my main strategy was to get myself out there without spending a lot of money and just getting that press for us. I think we kind of said presses, it was a really important thing for us because we thought it would give us some legitimacy in the market. And I think that's just how we got our start. A lot of it was just hounding people chasing, we didn't put a lot of money into it. And then just off the back of that it grew, but it was a slow start. I mean like, like I said, my husband was still working full time and I was at home with the kids. So it was, it was a slow start. We had one product, I had instagram and I was just hounding journalism that was literally how we, how we started. 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Additionally, scribes knew reorder product makes it frictionless to capture reorders in a single click to help you increase your business's profitability and customer lifetime value, Give your e commerce business the charge that it needs today by visiting up scribe dot iO slash female startup club to learn more and you'll also receive your first month free that's up Scribd dot io forward slash female startup club. What kind of money did you need to get yourself ready to launch? What, what was your like investment to start this business? So I think with something like skincare, it's quite a low financial startup cost. You can, it's literally down to, you know, packaging, getting a few of your legal sorted. So it was like under £1000. We started under 1000. Like well under, I'd say it was like around between 2 to £500 just to get our product with a website and ready to go. And that was enough for us to begin with. Again, I think we just kind of thought, let's just wing it and see how far we can go. So we didn't want to invest too much to begin with, which I think can work for some people and obviously for others it isn't, it's probably you know, they want to start the brand and they want to come out with a bang, but it's totally doable, it's totally doable with like under £500 to start a business. Absolutely gosh, I love that. What a great message to send to everyone who's kind of sitting in their jobs right now being like I'm dreaming of starting this thing, I have this thing tucked into my back pocket that I want to get started but they're thinking I need thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, you really can start small and scrappy and like you said just go slow and prove out the concept and start there definitely, definitely. I mean sometimes when I, I speak to quite a lot of other small business owners, I love it, I love the small business, especially the female community and then I hear them say things like oh I'm thinking of out, you know sourcing out my social media or I'm just gonna you know take get a fulfillment center, like don't do it like what you can do, do it yourself to save that money because if you spend too much too early and and the idea isn't approved concept and it doesn't, it's not successful, you will feel that and then more so emotionally you're going to feel that loss that you failed at something. So I always say, you know as much as you can save and do things yourself before letting go, especially early stages that we just did everything, you know, we did everything to begin with. And it's hard. But I think everybody knows that running a business is hard work. And if you're passionate about it, you can totally pull yourself push yourself through it. Absolutely Gosh, I want to go kind of, talking around this time. I think we're in 2018 now at the moment, right? Where you're, you've spent a few months, you're easing into it. You're starting to get pressed. Things are starting to kind of move along. What happens next? How do you kind of take the brand to the next level? And when did things start to snowball? Yeah, So, we, so, again, we were kind of in that slow burner stage and it was okay for me, physically and emotionally, mentally, I think it was a good stage to be in because I was coping with a lot with the girls at home. And, and then we had glossy box reach out and glossy box is the UK's biggest beauty subscription service. They reached out and they said, oh, you know, we we really like the look of it. We like to look at your product, can we have some for our box? We're like, oh my gosh, this sounds amazing. How many do you need? And remember at this stage were still hand making back to their home, they place an order for 100 and 10,000 units. And we were like what? We don't have staff, we don't have a factory. We took the order on What? units? Oh my God, we Did 100 and 10,000 units. We took we took the order on. And the reason we took it on, we did way out. And I think it's one of those things where we just thought, you know what, this is the opportunity for us to just get our product into 100 and 10,000 people's hands. And we just we went with it said, yeah, we can do it. Okay, so how do you do that? We turned our house into a factory essentially. Oh my God, you did it yourself, what we did it ourselves. Because the thing, the way that beauty subscription models work is because they have a certain amount of products that they have to fulfill in the box. It's not the same as when you go to a retailer. So, so we we didn't have an option to go to a manufacturer. And also, I think we were just at that stage where we thought, you know, we can do it like handmade product is always we had that control and we weren't ready to let go of that control. So literally we moved our furniture out of our living room, we got industrial machines in, we had a marquee in our garden, Thankfully it was summertime. So we ran out of storage pretty fast our whole like I'll share that. The back was full, it was like a 3-4-month project and when I say that order nearly killed us. It literally nearly killed us. Like we were making filling. He's like one room was like a heat seeking room bearing in mind I have two very little girls like my family and like all of our family and friends were amazing. Like my mom just took the girls, she was like, I'll just take them and you just need to get on and oh my God, like when I, like, we had like pallets on our driveway, we had like huge delivery vans coming with like, like all of our wholesale ingredients and our packaging and it was just insane. Like that summer was so difficult. But we did it. What was your like, how did you fund that? Because obviously that requires working capital. You need to buy all of the ingredients, you need to buy all of the packaging. That sounds like a big investment definitely. We had that was I think that was our point where we thought we now need to invest our own money into this and we did like, we didn't, we thankfully we didn't need any loans, we didn't actually get any investment, we invested our money into and of course we were still getting paid for the or so we invested a chunk of our money in knowing that it's going to come back in a, in a, in a roundabout way, it'll come back to us at some point. It was an investment. But the best thing about that order was it enabled us to uplevel our packaging because when you're buying at large volumes, it means that your costs can come down. So we thought, this is our time to really invest in some good packaging, really invest in wholesale ingredients and get our, get our prices down to get our costs down. So it was a good, so we weighed the pros and cons of it and thought we we need to go for it because we're at such an early stage, pretty much nobody's and this massive beauty giant has come and said, you know, we can put your product in people's hands and we thought, whatever it takes, we need to get it, we need to do it whether that's investing in it financially, whether it was literally like blood sweat and tears, like our backs were broken, like literally broken backs, like lifting boxes. Our entire house was not a house. Like we didn't have a dining room, we didn't have a living room, It was just our factory for those 3 to 4 months where we just fulfilled that order. And the, the day that that order went out, I think we were in the september or october glossy box I think was august delivery. That august, We had like 15 pallets being collected from our drive? We were like, oh my God, Like is this like a living hell over? Because it was so difficult. We were hand making and we did 110,000 units. I am in shock. That is insane. Stuff. It was just, whoa! Oh my God, it was insane. But it really goes out there. You hand packed 100 and 10,000 units. That's like, I just can't even wrap my head around what that looks like. That's crazy. Also during that three months, are you still marketing as well or are you kind of like, hey, I'm just going to focus specifically on this. I'm not gonna kind of like push every day to market. Exactly. I fully, I think everything was paused. We paused everything. Our socials just went quiet because there was just not enough hours in the day. So everything was going into this order. So we knew we were like pause it and just deliver the order and then we see then we'll see how it's received. And it was great. Like glossy box were amazing. There was such a wonderful, wonderful team. And even for them to work with us was such a big deal because they work with huge brands. You know, like they have like Loreal and like Colgate and all these massive brands that contribute to their boxes. And then there was us like this like literally husband and wife team like, but we'd love to be in your box and they were like, yes, what can we do to help you to make it happen and they're amazing. I love that, gosh, yeah, there was so amazing and so supportive and literally it was like, I think that for us felt like the start of our business because off the back of the glossy box order, we then were able to expand into three different body scrubs and I was like, okay, we've got a range now, we have a range of body scrubs and people knew us, people would say, oh I tried this and my glass box. I loved it and we had so, So many great reviews but I think even now on their website, they probably have like 2500 close to five star reviews on the product and it really gave us that boost. Yeah, because we knew the product was great and we knew that if it gets so we just need to get into people's hands. So it was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but we got there and off the back of that, we managed to get like, really nice upgrade on our packaging and we had a whole range and then that was it. Like, that was really the start of delicious for us where we thought, oh my gosh, like we're an actual brand now because we're sitting in this beauty box with all these other really lovely brands and people are saying, wow, I love the packaging, I love the name, you know, I love the story behind it and it was so nice. It really made me feel like, yeah, like this is it now, but you know, it was, it was really intense, it was just such a crazy. I read that at some point you decided to jump on Tiktok and I feel like this was the next big thing that happened for you. Can we talk about your Tiktok journey? Yep, definitely. So I think after the glossy box order and I think that was like pandemic time pandemic hit. And so I guess it was 2020 when we joined. So I speak to a lot of small business founders and I have this friend who she has a tanning brand. So she had joined Tiktok and of course Tiktok was very new at the time. And to me it felt like, Oh God, I don't really want to like manage another social media platform. Like that's just such a headache, I don't want to do that. But she was seeing some really good success off the back of it. And she kind of messaged me to be like, you need to join Tiktok, like it's the place to be for small businesses right now. Okay, like let's just see, let's just try it, you know and see how it goes started posting a few videos, I don't think I got anywhere actually for the, for the first couple of videos still trying to like find a way to work it out. I remember I was asking like my husband's nieces who were like teenagers, so how do you post, how do you add like text? Like I had no idea how to do it. And then I started sharing, I think with Tiktok, you kind of need to like test it and see what it is that you're you, your particular audience once. And I think when I start, I started talking about my first video that went viral was I did a video about how I used to bleach my skin as a south asian woman and um skin whitening and how toxic it is and how toxic the culture is that promotes skin whitening. And I think that blew up where people were like, oh my God, yes, you know, um that's so true, like skin whitening in the asian culture, so toxic. And I think that was like, okay, wow, like people really resonated with that message. And then I started posting, we, so at that point in the pandemic, we have formulated some body bombs, again, formulated for super dry skin, really unique formulation, really, like they were brand new, We launched them in like october time, we joined Tiktok around january feb and they're, they're pretty new and at this point I was kind of hounding Rita taylor's or hounding people to try. The bombs are amazing and not really getting anywhere with them, started posting about them on Tiktok and it just blew up like it was incredible. I think I had one customer who had shared it with the magazine. How much it helped her psoriasis and I posted it on Tiktok and it just blew up. Like people like, oh my God, if this works, I want to try it. And then people started buying at that point, we were hand making the bombs were probably doing about 100 a week. Hand making 100 a week. And then the more that people brought on from the back of Tiktok, the more success they were getting. And then I was getting, I literally was getting DM like hundreds of before and after shots of people's skin. So anybody that was trying the bomb was like, oh my God, look at my, look at it. And I was sharing that. And then every single video was going viral because people were like, what is this? Like magical moisturizer? And we were just all we were doing was all day long. Me and my husband making hand making bombs. Hand making bombs and shifting them because of the back of Tiktok videos going viral. And the fact that people were like, oh my God, the product works. People commenting on Tiktok, I bought it, it works, you know? And it was just insane. Like at that point then, you know, we only bought like a couple of 1000 like bits of enough to make the ingredients and then we were just selling out constantly selling out every single video going viral, like getting viral. It was just insane. I think it was just because the product worked, like people were like, oh my God, it actually works. Look at my eczema results, look my psoriasis, look at this, look at that And it was just like Tiktok just blew up. Like I think we went from zero followers to like 50K in a couple of months and now I think we're like closer to 50. It was insane. Like just off the back of Tiktok, I think it really speaks to the power of the testament to when you actually solve a problem. And when you actually have something that you can visually see the results, you can see the change the power is so real. Especially on a platform, like Tiktok with, you know, video content and being able to show and explain and kind of talk through it that the opportunity is just crazy there. It really is. I think, you know, I think we joined at a good time. You know, it was still quite early days, a lot of small businesses were getting a lot of promo and it was just a good time to be on something that was so new to people, it's still a good time to join. I always encourage people and get on Tiktok, like invest your invest time in one platform and see how it goes? Like whether you think, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna invest in instagram and I'm going to post out those reels every day. Just invest that time in it and you will see a result. Like I have lots of people with messages that I haven't gone viral yet. It's like just be consistent and if you believe in your product in the products work or whatever it is that you're selling, you will get there like just be consistent with one platform and that's what we did. Like instagram was always great. It was that kind of curated pretty side of our brand and I think people like that, like the pastel colors and it was all about the brand aesthetic. But Tiktok was all real was our real behind the scenes. It was just us, our hands making product, talking about our product, it was just, and I would literally make videos in a couple of minutes at a time because I wanted them to be really real and authentic. I don't want to spend like hours creating content. I think a lot of people think you need that, you need to do that, but you really don't like just keep it really authentic. Get that content out there and just see how it's just test it out and see how people respond, How many times a day were you posting? Like, what was your posting schedule on Tiktok? Like I literally didn't even have like did not even have a schedule. I was like again because I'm just so like mom life, you know, I was trying to aim for like daily, I was like, I'll try and do like one post a day, but I'm not gonna be religious about it. I'm just gonna see how it goes. Like there's no, I feel like people will be like post two times a day post. It's like just go with what is like doable for you because if your content is good, it's still going to get those views. Um I think people thought they had to crack a code, you know, you have to like post every, every day at this time. And it's really not like that. I think if you use the right kind of hashtag use, you know, your content is good. It will get seen regardless. People are going to engage with it, they're gonna engage with it. Absolutely. I read that you gone at a wait list of 50,000 people. How did this happen? What happened? It was, oh my gosh, so that was, that was Tiktok, that was all Tiktok um we were selling out so quickly and the results were coming in so quickly that people were just, people were ending up buying like three for a time and then we ran out of everything, you know, And then there was delays in like shipping with our t because it comes from India. So at this and at this point we were still hand making. So we were just thinking like how can we, we can't like were fulfilled with packing orders were hand making bombs and it was just so intense that I was like, you know what? We were like we just need to put ourselves out of stock because we can't fulfill the demand and then we thought, okay, let's just put a waiting list and see how it goes. And every single day that way just went up and up and up. It was just amazing. It was just like, oh my gosh, I can't believe this many people have signed up for like alerts. There was 50,000 people had were waiting and that in itself was scary because there was no way we were going to fulfill a demand of 50,000 even just to invest that much to be able to fulfill 50,000 is just insane. So we were still, we're still taking it slow, still ordering small amounts at a time and still hand making And at one point I think we would like maybe put out 2000 bombs because we're like, Okay, we've done 2000, it's taken us days, we've done it and they would go because people were just waiting. But it was insane. Like I still can't even believe it, you know, it's so insane. And what happened there though Like did you think okay we've got to stop hand making these bombs. We've got to find you know a factory and fulfill these in a different way. Like we need to level up what's that kind of next phase of your business. So when your hand making product I think and you realize that there is a big demand for it. It is you have to let go. And I think for us that was really difficult to do because we were perfectionist when it came to the production of it. We didn't want to let it go. And equally it's such a delicate process it's such a delicate process. So we had to find the right manufacturer and that took us a really long time. So we were still hand making bombs letting them go like putting them online. Just a little bit of time, couple of like a couple of 1000 here and there. Hopefully that would satisfy the demand. We had to limit it to one per person because people were buying so many at a time and then we were in the in the background still working on finding a manufacturer. So we had to we had to outsource that went to visit a few people but we knew we wanted to keep it in the U. K. So we can still have that control. We can still go visit. But yeah eventually we did we had to we had to give it to a manufacturer because we couldn't be hand making and marketing and doing everything that came with doing the brand when you're still kind of bogged down in the, in the practical side of it. Um, and as much as we love the practical side, it actually wasn't realistic. So, yeah, we then ended up saying, okay, look, the demand is there now we're gonna, you know, scale up and we did, we just went to a manufacturer, so we no longer making them. And yeah, that's just a way to satisfy the demand. Really. Did this change the way that you were thinking about capital and whether you needed to raise, obviously in consumer based businesses, consumer product based businesses, you do need that capital to invest in bigger orders. And I'm sure when you start working with the factory, you have to kind of explore what those avenues are. Did it change your approach in how you were thinking about, you know, money and loans and fundraising and things like that? Yes, I think so. I think, I think that was a time when we thought, you know what we, is there a way for us to kind of raise some kind of investment. And we looked at crowdfunding, initially, we looked at crowdfunding and I think that is still is still a great option. Um, we didn't end up going for it. And thankfully we ended up not having to take loans and we ended up, we scaled so slowly. And I think when people look at us from the outside, they think, oh my gosh, Like, you know, you, you blew up so quickly. How did you manage? We did, we took it really slow because we knew that, you know, raising investment is not always easy and there's a lot of complications. I think that come with it and a lot more pressure as well. I think when you have an investor on board, you now have somebody else who's kind of asking you and, you know, questioning your business. And I think we probably weren't, we weren't really sure in what way to go, but thankfully because we had so many orders that we had enough and we took it so slow. We didn't actually end up having to get any external investment. But I think it was around that time when I was also approached by Dragon's Den. So for anybody that doesn't know BBC Dragon's Den, it's like an investment show you go on you pitch and you know, you're pitching to essentially these dragons who, you know, are millionaires. I think we thought, okay, you know, we've got something really good here. We know we're really small. It's just asked, but potentially this could be a good route to getting investment. So we entertained that idea as well. But I think because we took it so slow, we didn't actually have to exhaust too many external avenues. Um, if that makes sense. But I think that was the best way for us to grow to do it slowly. Did you go on Dragon's Den? I did go on Dragon's Den. Yes. How did it go? That's great. I mean it's kind of like traumatic talking about now. So it was filmed last year june I think I'm now in a place where I could actually like talk about and be like, yeah, I can't believe I actually went on it. So um yeah, so when they approached me, we were like, okay, like we need to do this. Like let's just see how it goes when filmed in the den and obviously the episodes now live so I can say it, but I didn't get the investment. And I think a lot of that always comes down to me feeling like, you know, I maybe I didn't pitch right or maybe they didn't believe my idea, but there's a lot of rules and regulations around the den. Like for example, I wasn't allowed to show my before and after pictures of skin transformations and that is a really, it's a really big part of our brand. Yeah, there was wasn't allowed, it was just um, it's just like BBC guidelines. You know, you're not allowed to I think it was probably around consent and things like that. I'm not, I'm not even 100% sure I did ask the question, they're like, no, sorry, you wouldn't be allowed. So there's a lot that I couldn't actually may be expressed and it's also a very high pressure, very high pressure situation, you know, you're in a room with like 50 cameras and you know, you're pitching to these people that are like tv stars essentially. So I didn't get the investment and at the time I was so bummed, I was just like, oh my God, like they didn't believe in my brand, which means that like it's obviously not that good, like maybe I thought it was better than it really took a massive knock on my confidence and my husband was amazing. He was like, no you didn't listen, you were great. But I really felt like I had let like the business down, I'd let the brand down because I had gone on as the spokesperson for it and then I mean we carried on, I just think they didn't believe me, I think they didn't believe how how great it was and how much it was working and how much it was helping people's skin and I just don't think they got it. And maybe also like me being like an ex teacher and kind of standing there, like I started this with zero experience, like what do you think? You know, like they're like yeah we don't we don't trust you, we don't know, we don't think, you know what you're doing. But yeah, then Dragons don't happened and we didn't get the investment, but thankfully we actually didn't need it, the business carried on, you know, and by the time the episode had aired I think a lot of people were like I'm really shocked you didn't get it because clearly the, you know the brand has gone from strength to strength, but obviously at the time I just thought it was such a it was awful, you know, it really, I took it, I really took it to heart that they didn't want to invest. I think sometimes in those situations it can be a silver lining that you go through the experience and you don't take investment or you don't get given the opportunity to get investment and in hindsight it might be for the better that you didn't take money, you know, too early on, you know? Yes, Yeah, and also like give a part of our business away, you know, like you're giving, you're giving a big part of your business away and also I think it's important for people to remember, it's just a tv show, I don't think that it's you know how real investment circles and how you actually raise investment if you were to pitch for an investment, I actually don't think that that's how it would go, like essentially they say a lot of things for entertainment and when people watch that and they think that's how you have to raise investment, I don't think that's the case I think that people are a lot kinder in in the real world because they're not, they're not kind of trying to do it for entertainment and it is an entertainment show, but it was an experience and I'm glad I did it. I think, I think after I'd like seen the episode um I was like, yeah, I'm glad that it was, it was great. You know, of course it's a great experience to go through. It's a learning curve for sure, definitely. I think it just made me stronger definitely. As you gear up for fall, you need to find the right people on your team to help your small business fire on all cylinders linkedin jobs is here to make it easier to find the right people you want to talk to faster and for free if you follow me on linkedin or you're a subscriber to our newsletter. You already know how often we're sharing jobs that are coming directly through linkedin. It is so powerful, you can create a free job post in minutes on linkedin jobs to tap into the world's largest professional network with over 30 million people in the UK alone. It's why small businesses rate linkedin jobs number one for delivering quality hires versus their leading competitors, then add your job and the purple hiring frame to your linkedin profile. So your network can help you find the right people to hire simple tools like screening questions, make it easy to focus on candidates with just the right skills and experience. So you can quickly prioritize who you'd like to interview and hire linkedin jobs helps you find the candidates you want to talk to faster and you can post a job for free, just visit linkedin dot com slash F. S. C. Again, that's linkedin dot com slash F. S. C. To post your job for free today. T and CS apply. I feel like we've spoken a lot about like, you know, the success of your brand and all these kind of amazing things that have happened for you when it comes to the wait list and and glossy box. What are some of the challenging things that you're going through as a business owner that we don't see on social media, that other business owners might be sitting there being like, it feels really hard. Like I'm struggling a lot like everything, everything is hard, everything is hard. Like I think people and this is what it shocks me when I hear the successes being listed because to me the negatives feel more because I do think it's difficult. Like I just think everything can be a challenge like your time, you know, your effort and feeling like you are quite literally just sat and all these businesses trying to make your mark and you're not getting anywhere with it and that's how like, you know, that's how we feel. Um I think the biggest challenge for us has been kind of figuring out our next steps each time on every stage is just kind of like, okay, so where do we go from here? And the multiple amount of rejections? Like we have been rejected constantly from bias. You know, I think whenever you get like a, whenever you get into a retailer, I think people are like, oh my gosh, wow, you're in retailers like yeah, but you don't know how many doors were shut before we got Yes. You know the amount of rejections, the amount of emails are ghosted and it's, it really does make you just feel so low, like you just think, okay, what am I doing? Like why am I even doing this if nobody, if they can't see if they don't see potential in this brand, Like does this brand even have potential? You know, you question everything and I think emotionally it's really difficult. I think emotionally it's so difficult running a business and especially if you're doing it by yourself. Like I think that's even harder. I think everything is a challenge honestly. Like that's the only way I mean I hope that it's not like super negative to say that, but it is really hard and I think it's very easy for people to share their wins, but I just think the reason they're doing that is because that wind was so important because it probably took them so many. No's like we were like rejected by a major retailer in like january before the bombs went viral, and then people kept asking us why are you not stuck there? And I was like, they rejected us. Like that's why like, everything is always a no, like you, I feel like brands and businesses always here and know first before you get your Yes, but they don't show the nose, but I have to Yeah, we've been, we've had multiple rejections and I mean, I think Dragon's Den is a very big thing part of that, like that for me was I'm being fully like rejected in front of the nation, like that was really tough. Like, I just think there's just so many like conceived failures when you're a business person that when people share your positive, you're like, yeah, but that's because there's been so many negatives. Um Yeah, I think everything honestly, like, I wish I could, like it sounds, it sounds really dark, but entrepreneurship is just a series of nose and rejection. I actually posted that once on my twitter after I'd had like, some, I don't know, something that I was excited about fall through and someone was like, this is a really negative view and I was like, is it negative or is it realistic literally like, it's, it's so, it's so many no's, it's so many knows it's so many rejections and there's so many things that can just go wrong in a day and you just think, and the other thing is I think people think that these positives, I feel like someone is very short lived, like for example, like going viral on social media, like what happens then is you build up that pressure on yourself what you think, okay, like my videos now I need to make another one and if you get lower views you're like, oh no, what have I done wrong? Like there's something wrong, you know, like there's a lot, it's very up and down. It's such an emotional roller coaster and like it's very cliche to say that, but success does not come that easily and that quickly. It is such a struggle. Like every day is a struggle because you're essentially just kind of winging it a lot of the time, you know, you like you actually like for me, especially that I had no experience in the business or running a business, but yeah, like I just think it's so hard. I don't think people probably realize how hard it is. Yeah, it's that thing of like if you had known how hard it is, would you have ever gotten started? You need to kind of go in with a naive sort of, you know, rosy glasses on to be like, yeah, like this is amazing, it's gonna be amazing. And then as you kind of go through these challenges, you're like, wow, like I didn't expect it to be this difficult because of course people don't really talk about it. Yeah, definitely, definitely. And I think a lot of the time it is that positive realism that people showing a positive view of their life and it's like their business and it's like, no, like for example, like we recently got a like office space now, like our own warehouse space, people like, oh my God, that's amazing. Like do you realize that we were in our house, like literally working our house for so long, like boxes everywhere, like for them for people to think, oh, we've gotten that, you know, and it's like, wow, you've got yours, but it's like, yeah, but we didn't have this for so long, you know, like it's been so hard to get to this stage. Like it's been literal blood sweat and tears. Like literally it's so hard. I think every day is hard keeping that all in mind. What is your kind of best piece of advice for founders who are out there listening, just getting started, I would say to not, I mean again, it's really cliche to say these kind of things, but I just feel like you need to believe that you can do it and have the energy and the passion to just keep going and not let your failures define you. Um, I think I did that when I, when I didn't get the investment on Dragon's Den, I felt like for a good couple of weeks, I was just like, oh my God, this is just awful. I feel so low and like I let that failure define me and I don't, and I think it's so important for founders to not let your failures define you, not even failures. Just just maybe when the door has been closed because you put so much of yourself in a business, like it's literally so much of you goes into it that it can feel very personal. Like don't take it personal, it's a business decision. There's a lot of factors that have led to that decision and you move on, you know, because if it's a no today, you will get a yes somewhere else. But yeah, I hope it's such a hard one to say, isn't it? I mean, I just think people don't realize how hard it is, but they shouldn't let it just really take over their mood because I think that's why I let my, I think that's what happened to me as well. So you have to work hard to keep it separate, easier said than done, definitely. And you know, a lot, I think a lot of founders, especially if you're working from home, that is really difficult because it feels like you can't separate your business from you. Like you are literally one entity and having that separation is it is important for your own mental health because otherwise if you're physically in your business, you're mentally and emotionally in your business, it's going to take its toll. And it's really unhealthy and I think it took like it took us a while to even realize that it's the minute we took the business out of the house even it was like wow like this feels like a weight has been lifted. Like I just don't like I think a lot of founders we don't switch off but it's so important to just kind of step back and think and realize that it's not personal. You know don't take it personally.
Question # one, What's your why? Why are you doing this every single day for me? Um I think my wife has always about is underpinned with helping people. And I think that's where my teaching side came from. If my business wasn't something that was making a difference to people, I think it would be easier for me to give up my y is around my customers community and also representing culture, which I think is so important and it's about representation for me. So my wife is to inspire younger generations of, you know, women of color who can look and think like if she did this and you know, it's great to see our heritage and our culture sitting in mass market. That's definitely my wife is so important. Question. Number two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? I think it would be between our glossy box going live. That was amazing. That was an incredible moment for us. And also like when our first videos went viral on Tiktok because it was no ad spend like where we've gotten to has been totally organic. Um, so marketing wise, we've not spent a penny and that's been, that's been amazing. So I think it would be between those, that feeling of like, oh my gosh, like we're getting somewhere with this. You know, absolutely Question # three is what's your go to business resource if you have to choose like a book or a newsletter or a podcast. Um it would definitely be girls that invest. Oh my God, I love sim, she's so great and sonia, I mean she's so great and actually when I first started delicious, she was running a different page at the time and we were kind of, we chatted at the time so to see her and how far she's taken something that was so you know, new to the world and it's such an amazing, it's such a great concept to make women financially literate. Like it's just incredible isn't it? And it's just the way that the investment space is so dominated by men and they just make it so easy to digest and they're fun to listen to. That would definitely be girls that invest and she's recently got her book out as well, so I can't wait to get that. I love it all. I love it all so much. She's coming on the show in october and I'm so excited. Amazing. Oh my God, that's amazing. Yeah, I think she's so great shout out to question number four is how do you win the day? What are your am mpm rituals that keep you feeling happy, successful and motivated? I think that would wouldn't even be around like my to do list or anything like that. I think as a, like as a woman and as a mother for me, my winds come from feeling like I haven't just devoted attention to my business and have been present as in my other roles that for me is so important, like the days that I'm just an entrepreneur, I'm just, you know, working on the business. I don't feel like I've won the day, but when I've, you know, been able to have a little bit of balance and I've, you know, made it like a good dinner for my kids, I've read, you know, I had the time to sit down, do some reading or whatever it is, those are my wins. It's having that balance is definitely not gonna be, you know, it's not about that checklist of what I have to do this in the morning or the evening. It's that overall feeling of feeling like I am present in my roles and that's important to me. So that's definitely how I feel like I've won the day. I love that. So true. So true. Question # five is what has been your worst money mistake and how much did it cost you? Worst money mistake? You know, I think we've been, we've been quite lucky in the sense that Everything has been very careful. However we um, I feel that when you skip stages, you can leave it leads to issues. So we had a order of um, some mailboxes that we place an order for we, we use the factory before. We didn't test the final sample and they came and they had these like tear strips that were just horrendous and we had, I think it was around worth £15,000 worth of stock that we had ordered. And we were like, oh my God, we did not test the final sample and now we've got all of these boxes and they were just kind of like, yeah, well that's it. You know, there was just no resolution to it. So they weren't totally unusable but we still had to use them. But it still felt like it was such a bad move on our part. We should have, we should have been more diligent with the, with the process and we weren't. Um, so I think sometimes if you skip stages, it can lead to, it can lead to a lot of money lost and for us it felt like a big loss. Yeah, absolutely, totally feel that that's crazy. Yeah, lesson learned. Always test definitely. And question # six, last question, what is just a crazy story, good or bad that you've had from building this business. I think my only like main crazy story. I think business has been on such a journey and it's, we've had so many crazy moment. I think the glossy box order would be our crazy moment of, you know, like our neighbors looking out their windows and seeing like pallets being delivered and we would literally be unloading like 30 bag kilos of t onto our driveway. I think that was really crazy for us. And I also think like for me, the experience of just being on Dragon's Den was quite crazy too. But yeah I think that would probably be it for us. I think we've just been on such a journey like it's just been it's just been overall so crazy. But I think we had a crazy start. So for me it was definitely that that order was just it was just insane. I love that. This has been so cool. Thank you so much for coming on the show Zara and sharing your journey and all these ups and downs you're going through. I am such a cheerleader, I'm going to be here for whatever you need. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It's been so fun.