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Starting a 100% Pure Cosmetic Startup Business
by Startacus Admin
Everyone loves to smell good (well, most of us anyway!) By giving yourself a quick spray of deodorant in the morning you can smell like almost anything, whether it be vanilla, jasmine or strawberries (sweet!).
But, have any of us really stopped to think about the different ingredients that are in our favourite main-brand deodorants and antiperspirants? Sometimes the rush of life gets in the way, and we need to smell good to feel good – but perhaps there’s a healthier option?
Well, we recently had the opportunity to chat with Jim Steele about his new business venture and what may be the answer;Skinlikes, a healthy, environmentally friendly deodorant that is entirely made with natural ingredients.
Intrigued? Read on...
Hi, Jim! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself, and what was the inspiration for Skinlikes?
I have always had an interest in plant-based therapeutic essential oils and the health benefits that they offer. I was intrigued by the fact that they have been used for thousands of years benefitting and healing many ills. I was fascinated by the physiological effects of fragrance and percutaneous administration. The dogged work of any chemist and perfumer is to prove the efficacy of and understand the complex chemistry and in doing so myself, I have studied the works of many gifted French scientists, doctors, fragrance researchers and aromatherapists since 1900 and prior. The antiseptic and healing powers of lavender oil on wounds cannot fail to impress even the most sceptical investigator – much as they were used saving many lives in the First World War, however, oils are highly toxic and potentially dangerous in the wrong hands – and thus I often shiver when I read an article written by someone – or indeed a company who launch a product and clearly don’t have much of a clue as to what harm they may be doing to their customers.
Of course the curative properties are found mainly in plants – rather than some chemical concoction invented in a factory. Much like the peppermint in toothpaste, it has little if anything to do with peppermint oil from a plant – and perhaps the reason why Jean Jacque Rousseau wrote “Man is a poison to man”. However I have benefitted from the numerous papers, theses and observations made by scientists on the subject of how and why oils work and indeed as to how in the right hands they are safe and proper to use, and thus my products are produced with great care and in this structure.
What were the first steps you took after you initially got the idea for Skinlikes?
I am angry to see that with clever advertising the market-leaders in the skin-care and health-care world can sell products that are full of nasty chemicals. One such popular ingredient (Tricolsan) is used as a propellant in antiperspirants. Yet this repugnant ingredient is actually better-known as Agent Orange and was used for deforestation in the Vietnam War. Thus I have to ask – why when the skin is a thousandopen mouths waiting to absorb what we put on it, would anyone in their right mind wish to subject their body to such abuse.
My Skinlikes deodorant is an honest, natural product using food-grade ingredients that you can eat, with a blend of carefully researched plant-based therapeutic essential oils as the active ingredients, but apart from the usual antimicrobial and stability testing on the product, I wanted to take it through a test that other manufactures (due to their highly chemical content can’t do), and so I subjected my product to a cytotoxic test at Glasgow Caledonian University where of course the results were very much in our favour. The cytotoxic test tested to see what the product would do to human cells. The control that we tested against killed everything in a few hours, while the cells subjected to my product had natural cell death after weeks. Thus I think that I can safely state that my deodorant may be the safest to be found anywhere. This was my ambition before starting.
You’re perhaps a little bit older than many of the entrepreneurs we see today. Do you feel like it has held you back in any way. Are there any difficulties that you face due to your age?
Age is no barrier to success. Colonel Saunders at KFC didn’t start his business until he was 73. PG Woodhouse died when he was 93. He worked every day of his life. Members at my golf club who took early retirement - and with big pensions, and who then did nothing with their lives – are dead. Died of boredom perhaps? Working keeps your young and most importantly keeps the brain active.It is the food of life as far as I am concerned. I am lucky that I don’t have a mortgage or any debt and so a bit like Richard Branson I work a bit and play a bit every day. I can start at six, work to lunch, play golf in the afternoon and then work in the evening if I feel like it, or if I have a deadline to meet. I am an entrepreneurial inventor with two products making me money and others in the pipeline with patents applied for. I have absolutely no intention of ever retiring. I don’t eat to live – I live to eat.
There’s always a learning process that comes with starting something new. So, If you were able to invent a time machine, go back in time and give your old self one piece of advice before taking the plunge with Skinlikes, what would it be?
Work harder at school and college. I obviously have a good brain but in my youth I was lazy. I was happier playing rugby and chasing girls than I was attending studies at college. As a result I had to do a lot of catching up later in life attending colleges and universities. One thing that I didn’t do till later was to study how a human being works. In the process I learned about the trillions of single cells that we have inside us, how every day millions die and are replaced by millions of new cells. Every cell is its own little factory drawing in amino acid from the food that we eat (not junk food), breathing in oxygen (although it’s mostly nitrogen) and converting this to ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) – energy! When we stop making ATP we are in a box with a lid and we don’t get out at the weekend. We are dead. Thus it is in my opinion that it is critically important for any company who manufactures a product that is applied to or used by a human in any way – they should know how a human being works. Sadly too few care to bother about this important factor.
This must be an exciting time for you, and we appreciate that you have been shortlisted for a Design Council award. What are your future plans for Skinlikes?
I am working hard to try to change people’s thinking about what they put onto and into their bodies and in doing so I wish to have Skinlikes accepted as the brand considered to be the most safe and honestly natural to be found anywhere on the planet. I have concluded some research at Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen where I was able to blend various natural oils and water and hold it in suspension without the use of any chemicals.
This super emollient will be the base of products that we will launch later this year. I have also completed some research at Aberdeen University where I was using natural components able to eradicate bacteria taken from hospital acquired infections. Given the over-use of antibiotics where a simple cut on the skin may be life threatening, it does seem that I have again something particularly worthwhile to add to my brand.
Have you learned anything from this experience so far, and if so do you have any advice for anyone wishing to start their own business or project?
Do your research first. Know your product inside out. More importantly, understand what the customer wants. The best researched product in the world won’t sell to anyone if there is no market for it.
Try to remember that you are working for yourself – and not for the bank. Don’t put your home up for surety to a bank. A bank should lend on the value and prospects for a company and take the risk on this – not seek your house as a fall-back. Banks are rascals (and rascals are not the word that I am thinking about)!
Don’t give away any shares in your business unless you really have to. I have turned a pound into two. Two into four, four into eight and so on – and without any bank borrowing! I own 100% of all of my companies.
Pay your suppliers on time or earlier. Then you will build status. Be honest – with yourself – and with anyone that you touch. Who knows what happens after you die – so maybe best not to take the chance and be some rotten money-grabbing, ruthless businessman or woman. You can’t take your money with you. There are no pockets in a shroud. Forgive and forget. Learn to draw a line under things. The past is the past. There is nothing that you can do about it.
Be kind to your fellow man. We may make errors and omissions – but this is only natural: today’s truth is but the embryo of tomorrow’.
We’d like to thank Jim for taking the time to tell us all about Skinlikes. We really like this idea and it has certainly opened our eyes to what we may be putting onto our bodies. We’re definitely excited to see what’s in store for Skinlikes and we’d like to wish Jim the very best of luck with his business! You can learn more about the product by visiting his website here.
Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.