Welcome to Chicks We Love! Here at Chip Chick, we love inspiring women to follow their business dreams while giving them the tools they need to make it happen.
Chicks We Love is our new series showcasing, well, chicks we can’t help but just love! Get ready to meet some of our favorite exciting female entrepreneurs and hear all about their wisdom for helping you to succeed too. If you want to subscribe so you can stay up to date on all our Chicks We Love interviews, click here.
In this article, I caught up with Yasmine Ishmael, Chief Scientist of NIUCOCO. Here is Yasmine’s inspiring story and her words of wisdom for you!
Photo courtesy of Yasmine
What was your inspiration behind starting your company?
My inspiration was based on my own personal story. I have dry hair naturally, but coupled with the harsh shampoos I was using, along with heat styling and coloring, my hair was in pretty bad shape; I used to have THE worst split ends and my strands would snap and break all the time.
It was quite embarrassing. I tried using all of the promoted products out there: pharmacies, salon, and sponsored brands. Unfortunately, these were all products that could not deliver on their claims and, at best, they would mask the issue and not fix the underlying issue. So, because of my frustration with products on the market that did not deliver results, I began to create products tailored for dry, damaged hair.
During my research and development of the line, I realized that there were many common hair care ingredients I did not want to work with simply due to their toxicity profiles. So, I vetted high-quality ingredients and validated each one across several databases that have the latest standards in regulations for personal care.
I carefully selected the ingredients that I felt safe to handle in a laboratory, felt safe to put on my scalp, could confidently recommend to my mother and nieces, and would make a visible difference to the health of my hair. And this is how NIUCOCO was born.
Now that I’ve been using NIUCOCO, strangers will compliment my hair all the time and even come up to me to ask me what products I use. Now I have length, volume, and a healthy shine to my hair!
My hair even feels soft to the touch which is something that used to be foreign for me but now is an everyday luxury.
What is your favorite aspect of the brand or product line?
My favorite aspect of the product line is that all the ingredients we use have been vetted by third-party certifiers who have classified them as safe to use, meaning that our products do not contain any ingredients that have a documented potential negative impact to health.
So, I am happy that I can confidently recommend the products to my mom and my nieces and also to you!
What do you aim to accomplish in the next year?
I want to introduce new products to the market, namely additional styling products and my patented hair mask that detoxifies hair from dirt, oil, and pollutants.
I also want to do extensive research on developing scalp health products, as more and more people approach me about their dandruff, dry scalp, and eczema.
I want to develop solutions not only for healthy hair but also for healthy scalps.
Photo courtesy of Yasmine
What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?
The most difficult part of being an entrepreneur is that you have to keep pushing yourself with 100% motivation when there are times you see zero progress.
It can be disheartening to have one rejection after another, but you still have to attend the next call or meeting with the same unwavering motivation and confidence.
If you 100% believe in your business (and you have to if you want to start a business), you will have the determination to keep moving forward.
What advice do you have for other women that would like to start their own company?
Do it. You are already fierce so show the world. Yes, starting your own company takes a lot of work and you will question why you embarked on this adventure at times.
But the hardest roads are often times the most rewarding ones as well. My advice would be don’t be afraid of pursuing your path.
And if you are going to start your own company, then be the biggest believer in your business and the value it brings to your users.
Why and how did you end up an entrepreneur? Was it a path you always envisioned pursuing?
I guess, looking back, it was serendipity. I knew the co-founder of NIUCOCO as he was a mutual friend. He was the one who gave me the signature, patented coconut oil we use in our products and asked me to explore some ideas on what to do with the oil.
Once I did my homework and brought the NIUCOCO line to the market, it was only then I realized I was an entrepreneur! I never envisioned this path.
But, as I get deeper and deeper into this fantastic project, I am certain that this is the path I was always meant to walk.
What tools do you recommend for other women who would like to be entrepreneurs?
I think one of the most important tools is to find a mentor. Someone who has gone through the process before can be a great coach and can help you navigate obstacles, provide advice, and guide you with a different lens and a fresh, unbiased view. I would also recommend attending entrepreneur events, and more and more of them are tailored for female entrepreneurs.
These events are extremely informative and interesting. For example, you can hear the stories of other female entrepreneurs and how they overcame their trials and tribulations. In addition, many associations that focus on supporting female entrepreneurs also attend these functions, so you can learn more about what they can potentially provide your business.
And, these events are also an amazing opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs. Networking is a vital and essential tool as well, as it allows you to spread the word about your startup and its vision and mission.
Along with entrepreneur events, you can also network via social media where you can connect with other entrepreneurs to share ideas. There are even more apps popping up just for networking.
The more you connect with people, the more opportunities for the name of your brand to be heard and for you to get to know people who can help your business.
Photo courtesy of Yasmine
How do you overcome failure or fear?
Failure is hard and as an entrepreneur, you will experience many. With every failure, I think it’s important to reflect on what happened so that I learn from it and understand what I can change going forward.
With time, you don’t fear failure as much because you realize that with every failure, it is a lesson to be learned and it is one step closer to success.
What habits contribute to your success?
I think there are two main habits for me. The first is my devotion to the field. I constantly read newsletters, magazines, and blogs so that I am up to date on new ingredients, market trends, and government regulations.
This keeps me current so that once I’m in R&D mode for a new product, I am already ten steps ahead in that I already have a sense of what I want from the product in terms of results, ingredients, and functionality.
I think being genuine also contributes to my success. I genuinely want to develop high-quality products and I want the consumers to be happy with their results. I am in communication with a lot of our consumers and I am always checking in with new users and repeat customers to find out how the products are working for them.
Continuous constructive feedback is imperative to the success of the products and can help fuel the development of new or additional products for another segment of the market.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
When I’m in work mode, I prioritize work and I focus on making sure that what needs to get done will get done. I make work the sole focus when I’m working so that I’m at my most efficient, which leaves time for life after work.
I’m also very lucky in that I have aligned myself with business partners and colleagues who believe in and support a healthy work/life balance.
What does your typical day look like?
That’s a difficult one. When you have your own business every day is a little different. Some days I work from home and some days I head to the office to discuss projects and priorities with the team.
Often there is a portion of the day dedicated to meetings and brainstorming sessions. Then I like to spend another portion of the day just to myself where I can continue my research.
Sometimes this bleeds into after hours and weekends. But, I always make time for friends and family and my favorite pastimes so that I can unwind and relax.
What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
The one thing I can’t live without are the people in my life who make me laugh, who inspire me, and who believe in me.
They keep me at my best.
They challenge me and keep me motivated so that I continually become a better version of myself every day.
Bre is a female millennial go getter residing in New York. One part entrepreneur, one part geek, she obtained her degree in Textile/Surface Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology.
She has held some exciting roles in both fashion as a designer working for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, as well as in ad tech working for publishers like Ziff Davis.
Today she operates her own luxury label Bre Avery, along with Chip Chick Media which reaches millions of women each month.
Bre is passionate about teaching women how to build a business and be an entrepreneur, in addition to keeping her readers informed of the latest technology trends and exciting products to improve their lifestyles.
You can send Bre a message here.