Five Minutes With Nneka Fleming
Nneka Fleming is the founder of Novel Skincare which is brand that creates natural skincare products to make this connection in our daily lives. They incorporate specially selected natural active ingredients that work in unison with your skin's natural composition. She took five minutes out to tell me more about her brand.
What made you decide to set up your own beauty business?
I wanted to add a story to skincare. I was tired of products only catering to a type. I wanted natural skincare that also responded to my mood.
What is the concept behind Novel Skincare?
We create sophisticated natural blends that read and respond to you. We only use natural active ingredients that work in unison with your skin’s natural composition and we only use aromatherapy grade essential oils that can ease your mind.
What sort of research did you do to find out what sort of products your customers wanted to buy?
Like most small businesses I went by my gut instinct. I had done some work for Chanel Beauty where we translated their colour cosmetics products into stories by working with young artists. The feedback and response from that was really inspiring. I then thought it would be interesting to try and do something innovative myself with skincare products.
I am a natural skincare convert after my youngest son suffered from terrible skin irritations and eczema and I saw a drastic improvement by changing his diet and the products I was using on his skin so I knew that this was the sector I wanted to go into. My research included looking at what other brands out there were doing. At the time a number of natural skincare brands were launching as luxury products by trying to imitate existing commercial brands. I could see that an entirely new approach was needed for this new market. I then attended a number of seminars and conferences on natural beauty and skincare to educate myself on the industry, ingredients and rules and regulations around cosmetics and there a loads! I would have never got my head around all the details u if I hadn’t done my research.
How did you decide on the look and feel of the brand?
Our brand has a luxurious quality to it. We wanted to offer both that home spa feeling and wanted illustrate personal stories through skincare. The idea of a skincare product that responds to moods and emotions as well as skin needs. Packaging into books made perfect sense. The other thing we did was build on the literary aspect of each ingredient. With names like Stream of Consciousness – Raw Cane Sugar Scrub, and Irony – Body Butter we want our customers to be able to recognise emotive interests as well as skin needs. We also include a library of ingredients on our website so customers can see how each ingredient reads and responds to them.
The environment is very important to us so we designed all the packaging with this in mind. The books are designed to keep and the jars, which we call Refill Chapters, can be bought separately so once you’ve finished using your product you can fully recycle your empties and refill your book.
What are your future plans for Novel Skincare?
We have recently just been shortlisted as the Best New British Brand 2017 by the very prestigious Pure Beauty Awards and we have already won Editors Choice 2017 at The Beauty Shortlist so the future is looking very bright for us. We plan to hold more temporary showroom/shops both in London and internationally. We’ve already held two; one in our hometown ofShoreditch in London and one in Manhattan, New York. These were great experiences for us as we got to meet new customers, introduce them to the brand and get immediate feedback, which was thrilling. We’re also planning to expand our range as we have had a few requests for even more personalisation in our products. We’ll also be collaborating with other brands. The future is very exciting – so watch this space.
What are your favourite beauty products?
From the Novel Beauty range I’d say my favourite products are Stream of Consciousness – Raw Sugar Scrub and Irony - Body Butter. I have very dry skin and these products really hit the spot with Shea Butter and Papaya Fruit. It also smells amazing and has some powerful aromatherapy ingredients like Cananga flower oil (Ylang Ylang) and Geranium Rose oil both relieve symptoms for stress with their uplifting scents. It really helps to relax my body and my mind which I need with two kids and one on the way and a new business! I also use Irony Body butter every night on my growing bump as it has avocado oil which helps the skin do its natural job of restoring itself.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own beauty business?
I would say stay focused, don’t concern yourself too much with what everyone else is making and blending. It’s a long journey don’t be afraid of opportunities that may take you out of your comfort zone. Learn from challenges and disappointments then move on quickly. And most importantly recognise when things are good, reward yourself with a bath or chocolate bar or whatever you like as those moments are precious and make it all worthwhile.
You can follow Nneka on Twitter.