#9 : Developing and Scaling Sustainable Skincare Brand SCB Naturals

Welcome to "Season 2" of Plant Basting Talks, where we interview entrepreneurs in the vegan-friendly space about their story, what they’ve learned thus far, their business model, and how they measure their business's health.  Learn the trends and strategies local businesses are using to grow.

Read the interview to learn how owner Lakisha Bullock:

  • Was inspired to begin making and selling skincare products that were natural and truly effective
  • Has steadily grown the business and its customer base since 2015
  • Prioritizes standards of being vegan and eco friendly in all components of her products
  • Finds time daily to prioritize her health, even while running a business

1. What influenced you to start SCB Naturals?

My influence for starting SCB Naturals was when I developed an eczema condition. It was a very stressful time in my life and my skin was completely reacting to everything I was going through. I had to do something because I went to dermatologists and they kept giving me steroids and they were making it worse. Finally, I said I was going to fix my own skin.

I had always wanted a skincare brand since I was 16 and saw Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter. She started her brand in the kitchen and I knew I could do it too. It took a while but once the eczema came, I knew it was time!

2. What were the critical steps you took to get the business started?

First and foremost, research and education. I went to cosmetology school so I could learn the science of skin and hair from the inside. I knew that if I knew the composition of skin and hair, I could fix the issues.

I did a tremendous amount of researching ingredients that would do what I intended for each specific product. I did a lot of trials and practicing until I got the recipes and texture right in the products.

I started using them first and cleared my skin. Then I was excited, so I started giving products away to friends and family and everyone loved it. I then put the business into motion.

3. How did you get your first customers?

I got my first customers right after I started as an actual business. I had already given out samples so people were okay paying. I started in July 2015.

4. How have you continued to grow your customer base?

I do a lot of events and that’s been my main way of reaching a lot of customers. My website is steadily growing as well. I do ads and promotions on social media as well.

Also, word of mouth has been awesome! I have also been featured on some Philly TV news stations as well.

5. What is SCB Naturals’ business model?

SCB Naturals' business concept is to be vegan, handmade and eco friendly. We strive to make our products natural and use packaging that is eco friendly, recyclable and compostable. We also source sustainable ingredients locally first and then from reputable companies. We also grow our own ingredients which we use in our products as well.

6. What is the most important metric you track for knowing the health of your business?

The most important metrics I track is cash in vs cash out. I always track what I am spending and how much is actually coming in. If you don’t keep track of your spending, you could be overspending and not realizing it. You may not be able to pay certain bills that are due, etc.

So, it’s majorly important that you know cash in vs cash out in order to accurately know what your profit or loss is.

7. How did you decide on pricing of your products? Have rising prices or shortages of supplies affected SCB Naturals?

I actually do a cost sheet to decide the prices of my products. I plug in the actual cost of the products and then price accordingly. The bigger the batch size, the lower the cost goes.

Rising prices in ingredients have definitely affected us. I’ve had to raise my prices because of the inflated prices of ingredients.

8. Why is it important to you that your business is vegan-friendly?

It is important because it’s a lifestyle. It’s not just a thing we do just to do it. We need to be intentional about living well and being sure we are also treating everyone, animals as well, respectfully and humanely. I only want to use products that come from the earth. I don’t feel like there is a need to use animal byproducts when you can do it plant based.

9. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome?

The biggest obstacle I would say is actually not having capital for my business. I fund my business entirely. I don’t have any loans and never get approved for grants. So that in return makes it slower to grow your business.

As far as challenges, not being able to hire more help is also a challenge.

10. Have you found anything (resource, book, skill, habit, or bit of knowledge) that’s been valuable or useful for your entrepreneurial journey?

I’ve found plenty of books, but I’d say knowledge I’ve gained from cosmetology school and the other courses I’ve taken have helped me tremendously.

I’ve also taken a Retail Ready course with Community College of Philadelphia and Northern Liberties BID. I gained a lot of knowledge there about running my business.

11. How do you tend to your mental health as a business owner?

I’m big on meditation, prayer and journaling. I also go to the gym 3-4 times per week to keep myself in the best health. I eat extremely healthy and take care of myself. I’m up every morning getting my day started by first meditating.

I think it’s important that we take care of ourselves as entrepreneurs. It’s extremely taxing on your body and mental. I also do a monthly massage appointment as well.

12. Any advice for entrepreneurs just starting out in the vegan-friendly space?

I would say do your research first and really understand your purpose and why you are doing what you are. It’s expensive to have a vegan and eco friendly brand. Definitely make sure it’s for you!

13. Where can we go to learn more about you and SCB Naturals?

You can visit my website and I also have all of my features on there as well, where you could learn even more.

Interested in learning how to start a vegan-friendly business like SCB Naturals?

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