'Earthly Essentials' - Pakistani Organic Skincare Industry Gaining Momentum
Zainab Arif, mother of three is the founder of a local organic skincare brand, ‘Earthly Essentials’ natural, handmade and chemical-free organic skincare products. She has graduated in engineering from FAST and done MBA from Lahore School of Economics (LSE). Zainab started her work in the capacity of marketing manager at a tech company.
With her growing responsibilities as a homemaker and raising kids she took a leap and joined a prestigious education institute as cocurricular head of Senior school. It was during that time, she developed a keen interest in organic soap making that naturally led to the existence of a world class local brand, Earthly Essentials.
The Startup Insider brings you some very interesting aspects from the success story of Zainab Arif. She tells about her initial entrepreneurial journey and the motivation behind developing the leading organic skincare brand; Earthly Essentials.
Tell us about your journey, how did the brand start?
I started my journey into organic skin care mostly as a hobby as this was definitely an interesting area. But most obviously did not plan on launching a full-fledged organic skincare brand and being successful!
It was in 2017 that my hobby turned into a brand. Since then the metric for success has changed for me. At the start just being able to learn how to make these products for self-use was the dream. Within 3 months, I was able to share the products with friends and family and now I set revenue-based goals that we try to fulfill every quarter each year. Mashallah, I have come a long way and my solid success metric, right now is we are expanding the brand across Pakistan, so every Pakistani can use original organic skincare products at affordable prices while maintaining our quality and customer satisfaction that is totally non-negotiable for us.
What makes you a successful entrepreneur?
I am a successful entrepreneur because I have been able to achieve the goals I set for my business and myself, which started from scratch, now is making profits.
How do you manage your team and operations?
We are still a fairly small scaled family-run business. We stock our products in several third-party outlets but our core sales channel is our ecommerce website.
I do have a handful of people that help me with production and distribution. My husband helps me with most of the web development and digital marketing side. So in total, we are a team of under 10 people who are super passionate about what we do and that helps with retention.
How did you manage your brand during COVID and unstable economy?
So two and a half years ago when Corona started it was a really tough time. We had to scale down the business because of raw material short-ages and losing access to our workforce due to quarantine. To be honest we are still recovering from that shock. In the end, it all comes down to passion. I make organic soaps, deodorants and other products because I love doing it, sure earning money is a big factor but it becomes secondary when one is passionate about their work. As long as that's true I will always keep on pushing through the tough times.
My husband helps me with all facets of the business that I struggle with. Basically, I focus on making quality organic products and he has helps me build an organization that can scale and sell those products.
What keeps you motivated and who is your biggest support?
Yes, we need good partners. In any business, there will be times when you are down and unmotivated and need positive people around you to pull you out of your lull. In my case, my husband is my fulcrum, he helps me part-time with my business apart from his but fully engaged with my mental health and physical well-being. This has been key for me.
Which quality in your opinion helped you reach this stage?
Never settle. I think as a brand our core mantra is that we are 100% organic and not a lot of organic brands follow that. Earthly Essentials was built around the concept of being completely unadulterated to provide organic products and we stick to that. We found our niche customers who were looking for quality organic products, their appreciation and brand loyalty keeps us going and never settle for the quality and value our products represent.
Is there any secret ingredient of success or is it just luck?
Well, it's a combination of both luck and hard work. Having said that, we all know that luck favors the brave, so we have to be fearless and hardworking.
Tell us about your planning process & how you bring improvement in your business?
We do a lot of planning of course and use a lot of tools in different areas of the business. For example, I have countless google sheets for my recipes & formulas. A tool called ‘Asana’ for listing all the business tasks we have across different areas. On the operations side, we have a custom wordpress-based e-commerce platform that we use to manage our inventory, sales, and fulfillment.
What contributes to your productivity, happiness, and success?
Having a set routine & being organized. When you’re a mother and have a startup it becomes really hard to manage your time. It's like having multiple startups as every kid is like a startup itself. So you need to take care of it and make sure to succeed as failure is just not an option. When we make organization our best friend, that is the only thing that will allow you not to procrastinate, multitask and stay focused.
While taking care of a growing brand, how do you give time to your family?
We try to plan for family trips every year that give me something to look forward to and also allow me to work towards spending quality time with my family. It's a healthy activity for all of us as it not only makes one’s horizons open but many inspirations and perspectives change while traveling.
Any advice you would give to upcoming startups and entrepreneurs?
The best advice I received is to always be honest with myself. I would like to pass that very same generic advice to upcoming startup founders and entrepreneurs. I see there is this growing culture of ‘fake it till you make it’. Honesty is the key ingredient that will allow you to make it to the top of the mountain of success. If we keep lying to ourselves that we are already on top we will eventually lose the passion to get there.
Secondly, I see a lot of people jumping into the skincare sector as a business without having any passion for making the right products. They rightly see this as a viable sector and take shortcuts like importing subpar products from China and marketing them.
I say that one should follow their passion and only work on great things that excite them, and in the end success follows. So be determined and passionate!