The Entrepreneur’s Corner – My Scents-ible Fragrances

We recently caught up with Hugo, founder and owner of an online beauty, fragrance and cosmetics retail store.  After completing an MSc in information systems technology, Hugo started a cosmetics and fragrance business. Hugo’s business started as an SME but has grown into a company that currently trades across Europe, Asia and the Americas and has attracted the interest of major vendors in retail cosmetics services. In today’s Entrepreneur’s Corner, Hugo shares how he transformed an idea into a business. He also gives advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to delve into the business world.

Aspiring Professionals Hub: Please can you tell us about your educational and professional background?

I am an MSc graduate in Networks and Systems Security from the University of Kent and a BSc graduate in Computing systems from the University of Northampton. I have extensive experience in systems architecture and security, network design and specification, programming and telephone and mobile computing and technology. I now provide IT solutions and services for major organisations as part of a large organisational network in the South of England.

What was the inspiration behind Just you business?

My mum was the biggest inspiration and the drive behind the business. As a child, I always liked perfumes; not just the scent, but the psychological effects and the structural design of perfume bottles. I remember my efforts as a young boy to create what I presumed would be the ‘perfect scent’ spending all my hard earned pocket money on fragrance oil…sadly it ended badly. However, I refused to be discouraged, my passion remained and now I can proudly say that I not only create great perfumes but I am also able  to recreate scents that are unique and appeal to a knowledgeable clientele too.

How important has social media and networking been to your business?

I would say it has been very important to my business. As an online retail store, the core of the business is driven by online traffic. The impact and contribution of social media is immeasurable as new products and special offers are driven and publicised using this platform.  I also find it gives my customers a feeling of clones and direct association with the business especially a business that caters for personal items like perfume and beauty products.

What are the challenges, if any, you face?

Starting out in any business can be a challenge especially having an understanding of the type of products and all the paper work that might be required, for example,  legal documentation. In this type of business there are some specific challenges such as trying to gauge or anticipate customers’ tastes. I also found gaining access to the best suppliers in the market another challenge as atimes some of these suppliers work directly with other competitors in the market hence finding these suppliers and building a good working relationship with them is important. And the other thing, pricing!! Knowing what sort of pricing strategies and what the best prices in the market are, especially prices that beat the bigger competitors in the market.

Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?

This is an interesting question. One mistake I can clearly remember is underestimating the size of the market and the amount of capital needed to get the business starting out and running effectively. Two key lessons I learnt in this business are: knowing when to stock certain products and at the right seasons as this can prevent non-performance of some products and loss of capital. The second lesson is also very important: conducting regular market research and running regular product performance analysis.

Who are your business role models, if any?

I never had any role models in the business world. I just had my interest and I followed it really.

Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Think of what you love and genuinely have an interest in and go for it not what you think will make you money. Except if you are not planning on investing much of your time in the business.

Contact details

For more details on the online fragrance store, purchasing your own specially scented perfumes or creating your own business, contact Hugo on  +44 (0)  7821441313

#StartUps – Just Plain Charming!

Nina Gizzie is the founder of Just Plain Charming – designing , making and selling handmade and bespoke jewellery. She is a creative individual who started her jewellery business while studying for a degree in Biomedical Science, talk about enhancing your academic experience! She has been able to successfully blend her love for both microbiology and jewellery by designing exquisite microbiology themed pieces…taking her ‘bugs’ outside the petri dish. In this article, Nina shares how she converted her hobby into a business, her inspiration and advice for budding entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting something of their own.

Aspiring Professionals Hub: Please can you tell us about your educational and professional background?

I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science from University of the West of England (UWE) in 2014. My main employment is as a Graduate Assistant Researcher in Microbiology completing small research projects in collaboration with an industrial partner. I also have part time employment as a Climbing Instructor and Duty Manager.

APH: What was the inspiration behind Just Plain Charming?

I have always loved crafts and the sense of achievement that comes from making something yourself. I dabbled in all sorts of creative hobbies previously such as knitting, sewing and baking but first got the inspiration to make jewellery at the Bristol Harbourside festival. I was perusing all of the wonderful stalls and one with copper/bronze jewellery caught my eye. After buying a lovely copper beaded bracelet I asked the seller how long she had been in the business. She said it had started as a hobby but she ended up with so much stuff and had to start selling things. I just had a little passing thought of ‘I wonder if I could make this kind of stuff’ and that is how it all started. A few days later, I bought some items to play with such as beads, chains, and charms. The more I studied different techniques and designs, the more I found to do with different materials and it just keeps on growing! The inspiration for most of my products just comes from looking at existing creations and playing around with them to make them my own. The microbiology themed jewellery I do was inspired by my career path and although it may not have wide-spectrum appeal, I like how different and quirky they are.

I would like to say that the name just came to me naturally but it took weeks of juggling different names. I chose this one as all my products were based on using charms and I thought it was a cute play on the words. Only about half my current products now contain charms but the name still applies to the remainder of products being charming…well at least I think it does!

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Images courtesy of Nina Gizzie. Please do not use without permission.

APH: How important has social media and networking been to your business?

It has been crucial. To start with, social media was the only place I could showcase my products and is where I made my first load of sales. Although I now sell primarily at markets and don’t push sales as much on social media, I still show off items I have made on there to my current followers to get their views and opinions.

APH: What are the challenges, if any, you face?

When I first started out, it was fronting the initial cost. In the 8 months I have been in business, I have spent around £2000 which is a big cost, especially for a student. I have earned most of my start-up capital back with sales but with my more recent pieces being sterling silver and precious metals/gems these upfront costs have increased. It was much easier and simpler with cheaper products but I like the challenge and taking up opportunities to further expand my business.

Another factor is time. I currently have 4 jobs and one of them is full time so having the time to make anything or run stalls is limited, I enjoy my jobs so quitting isn’t really an option. I would still like to further my career in Microbiology so for now this venture is about making money from something I love! Finding the balance can sometimes be an issue.

You also have to make a lot of stock which you may or may not sell leaving you with products that have cost money and time which no one wants. This cost is amplified when using semi-precious metals as you could be sitting on many unsold pieces of jewellery that may cost £20 or more each! It is annoying but unavoidable!

 APH: Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?

I have a habit of getting carried away with hobbies putting everything into them and rushing ahead. In all honesty you can say I did the same with this…bought A LOT of stuff, some I have still never used. I am also quite impatient so practising is not something I like to take time with so I have wasted material in failed attempts. I have also lost money buying the wrong items. However, when it came to playing around with the precious metals, some sense kicked in and I invested in a 6 week course so I could develop my skills and I am glad I did! I would like to say I have learned to be patient and not so carried away but I could still do with some work!!!

APH: Who are your business role models, if any?

Cliché as it sounds the ‘Dragons’ (from Dragon’s Den) give me inspiration, especially Duncan Bannatyne. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those that have made their way by coming up from nothing such as him. He started off with no wealthy family, having many odd jobs all the way up to his 20’s and not particularly excelling in anything. He then bought an ice cream truck, building up his business into an empire that includes his famous health clubs. I find this inspiring because it means that no matter who you are or your background…if you find something you want to do…then do it!

APH: Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just do it! Give it all! Start off simple and don’t get ahead of yourself (like I do), test the waters if it works build on it. It may not be perfect but if you give it time, effort and passion you can build something amazing.

Contact details –

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#StartUps –

businessWhat do you think when you hear the word entrepreneur? Do you think about people like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Aliko Dangote or Richard Branson? Do you think about yourself? Have you always felt that you were cut out for more than the 9 – 5 and would like to put your skills and abilities into developing your own business? Entrepreneurship is about developing your ideas into a profitable business. This is easier said than done but we can learn from those who have ‘been there and doing that.’ In our #StartUps section, we chat with budding entrepreneurs and share their stories which we can all learn from. This week we had the opportunity to interview Yuddie, the CEO of So Necessary based in Lagos, Nigeria on following her dream not only to start a business but in a country she hadn’t lived in for about a decade!

Could you tell us about your educational and professional background?

I completed a BSc. in Business Information Systems from London Metropolitan University and an MSc in International Business and Management from Westminster University. I worked in Customer Service for a large retail company in the United Kingdom while studying and for two years after graduation.

What was the inspiration behind So Necessary?

My mum is my inspiration I guess. She owned a bookshop where I worked as a teenager. I discovered that I enjoyed selling to customers and going the extra mile to meet their needs. I decided to go into the Fashion Retail sector to draw on my retail experience and because I sensed a gap in the market. Most of us love to look good but we also have to do it on a budget! I wanted to start a business where people could access quality items but at affordable prices. I started with women’s fashion because it was a market I believed I knew better. From a young age, I always knew that at some point, I would start working for myself. I like having a job but I believe in multiple streams of income and not just being dependent on a salary at the end of the month.

How were you able to raise capital to start?

I had saved up some money while working and I borrowed the rest from family members.

What were the challenges you faced?

The biggest challenge I have faced in this business is Logistics. I ship in my products from outside Nigeria and though you get good companies who can ship in within a few days, the charges can sometimes be more than the cost of the total goods you are bringing in! When importing goods, you have to deal with Customs (insert groan). We have been affected by Custom Officers going on strike, introducing further delays in delivering to our customers. The other challenge I have faced is that when you work in fashion retail, trends switch as fast as you can say ‘cheese’… Lol… This week, there are a lot of enquiries about bags, you bring them in and suddenly it is shoes they want. One has to constantly follow market trends on a regular basis, sometimes even weekly. You must know your business.

What was a mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

Hmm, I guess one mistake I made was not fully researching my market before taking the plunge to buy some items. I purchased some items which I believed would storm the market and invested heavily. Talk about…HUGE mistake. When you assume, you may make a fool of yourself. Some of those items are still in storage. It taught me that before taking a leap, research, ask questions, read, seek advice and pray.

What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

There are many things you need to run a business but personally, I have found three things to be most important. God, patience and determination. You need God to strengthen you for the other two; you need patience because the most beautiful things can take a long time to develop. Do not expect that the $10 you plunged into the business today will return in double fold tomorrow. You may lose a lot before you gain a lot. You will make mistakes. Be patient, it will come. Finally, if you have no determination to see through what you know is your dream, you might as well just close shop now. People will ask you questions, friends and foes will laugh at you, you may not have customers for long periods of time. Stay determined. God never gives a dream that will die. The plan will surely come to pass.

Who are your business role models?

I know this may sound cliché but Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are some of my greatest role models. I am not a bookworm but reading their autobiographies taught me that acquiring degrees are not the only way to learn what you need to know to succeed. Having an education is very important but think about what you enjoy doing and your passion. Everyone is great at something, all you have to do is invest yourself in it. God is a great business role model. His word says He gives us the power to create wealth. When we tap into what He says on wealth and add that to hard work, there is nothing one cannot achieve.

Contact details

I can be reached on:

BBM: 530B1775

WhatsApp/Contact Number+234 817 940 9447

Twitter & Instagram@sonecessary13

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