Imagine our complete surprise and excitement when we discovered almost by chance on our Facebook classroom group that two Formula Botanica graduates had won funding for their skincare brands after participating in TV shows. All the more incredible was that they both gained fame in their respective countries just a week or so apart. In a slight format change to our regular Graduate Success Stories, we’ve interviewed them both on their wins.
Our congratulations go to Rukhsana Ibad, founder of Le Pur Organics in Pakistan and Erika Simangunsong, founder of Pavettia Skincare in Indonesia on their well-deserved recognition and in gaining that all-important funding and business mentoring.
In this interview, Rukhsana and Erika not only share their experiences but also pass on some very helpful tips about building a skincare business and how to grow your confidence as a beauty entrepreneur. We hope their stories inspire you to seek out funding opportunities, even if it means facing your fears and being on the big screen.
Tell us about the TV shows’ format and following.
Rukhsana: The show Idea Caroron Ka is the first reality business show of its kind to promote start-ups in Pakistan. It is proving to be a game changer in the Pakistani business sphere, helping budding entrepreneurs to transform their business ideas into reality.
Erika: The Big Start Indonesia is the first creativepreneur competition in the country that focuses on providing opportunities for creative economic actors in developing their business. It helps provide them with the insights and experience needed to grow a business, especially in the digital era with all the changes that brings.
First announced in 2016, The Big Start Indonesia has a mission to instill the spirit of innovation and creativity by providing knowledge, training, capital, networks, and resources needed by participating SMEs. The Big Start was packaged in the form of a competition that would also be entertaining for everyone to watch.
What inspired you to apply to take part?
Rukhsana: After the launch of Le Pur Organics, my products were getting positive reviews from the community that I had built in a short time. A client suggested that given our customer base and the increasing popularity of our brand, I should try appearing on Idea Caroron ka. I went for it, and presented my idea to the investors.
Erika: My husband had been trying to persuade me to apply for the competition for a couple of years. I had said ‘no’ because I thought I didn’t have good enough public speaking skills. In 2018 (season 3), he continued to encourage me saying that I’d get a chance to gain more business experience and that people would get to know my brand. There was also the incentive of perhaps winning and getting that capital injection. So, I decided to enter and overcome my fear of public speaking.
How long were you in business before entering?
Rukhsana: I started my business on a small scale. However, the amazing response that I got from my customers through word of mouth boosted my spirits. Le Pur Organics was registered in November 2017, but its official product launch was January 2018. The TV show is similar to the US programme ‘Shark Tank in how its organised and I was selected for appearance in November 2018.
It is good to get validation in the business market and analyse customer feedback before you perhaps enter competitions like this. Only then are you sufficiently prepared to present your business model to the investors.
Erika: Pavettia Natural Skincare was established in February 2016, and the competition was held during the autumn of 2018. So, I was around two and a half years in business before applying. This, I thought, was the right time for me to leverage the business to the next level by getting more exposure for my brand and possible investment.
In my opinion, one to two years of running a business is the right time for a start-up, indie beauty brand to leverage their business. At this point, you have had some useful market experience, got to know who your customers are, and know about and can anticipate what you need to do to expand your business to the next level by getting investment and more brand exposure.
What were the scariest and best parts of being on the show?
Rukhsana: The best part was to gain investment from the TV show and getting a positive response from the investors, and gaining free business mentorship. I was so focused on the positive side of this opportunity, that I didn’t think about the negatives.
Erika: Public speaking is my weakness, so the scariest part of being on the show was when I had to do the presentation in front of the judges (there were 10 challenges to be done within a limit time, and I had to present my result in front of the judges).
I also didn’t have any courage to speak in front of the cameras. So when I did overcome my weaknesses, that part of the show turned out to be the best part of participating.
What were the toughest questions you faced?
Rukhsana: We did get grilled by the investors on some in-depth statistics and economics of the brand. However, at the end it all paid off very well since we were able to negotiate a deal and on top of it acquire mentorship and have access to some key business acumen from the investors.
Erika: The toughest challenge I faced on the show came when I was asked to be a content creator for my business and present the results to the judges. I love to do formulation things for my brand but creating content and marketing copy is not my strength. However, I knew I had to pass the challenge and I pushed myself to the limit.
What amount did you win and how will you be investing it?
Rukhsana: Le Pur Organics was able to get an investment equivalent to nearly $225,000 US dollars. My main focus is to spend the money on scaling up my business, concentrating on product management and marketing using social media and other platforms.
Erika: I won the equivalent of around US dollars 32,000. I am going to use the money to set up my own production facility and register my products with the Indonesian government so I can get the distribution permit. I am also going to use the money to boost research and development, as well as marketing.
How has the show has changed you and helped your business?
Rukhsana: I felt a confidence boost in myself and recognition of brand by the business community, customer markets and media channels. It made me believe that I was doing something vital that meant more to me than just a business venture.
Erika: As a new entrepreneur, the exposure on the show gives me a new optimistic spirit to run my business. The exposure on the show helped in brand recognition. More people now know my brand and are willing to try my products.
What advice would you give Formula Botanica students on grasping opportunities?
Rukhsana: The first advice that I can give to inspiring beauty entrepreneurs, it is to kill the fear in your heart. To achieve something extraordinary in life, you have to go beyond that one line of despair because fear restricts you from jumping off that cliff and not making the change. Go out and explore opportunities; then grab them! I would suggest that start-ups use social media heavily for this particular purpose and to gain a strong brand foothold.
Erika: My advice to all new beautypreuners is: Dream Big and let your dream lead you to overcome your weaknesses so you can realise your goals. Don’t be afraid to enter any competition as long as it can help you to leverage your business. You never know the result until you try!
Thank you Rukhsana and Erika for sharing your TV show experiences and your advice and inspiration on growing a natural skincare brand. If you’d like to find out more about Le Pur and Pavettia, find them online here:
If you would like to follow in Rukhsana and Erika’s footsteps and start a new career with the support of a like-minded community of natural formulators, take our free, organic skincare formulation sample class and you’ll be on the road to starting the organic skincare business of your dreams.
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Liz was Formula Botanica’s Content Coordinator from 2017-2019 and rejoined our team in August 2020. Liz worked as a professional blogger, journalist and site developer for many years and was also part of the Formula Botanica student community. Read more about the Formula Botanica Team.