Cocktail with Nyesha

When did you decide to start brown sugar and what was the process like?

In high school, My skin was one of the things that I was most insecure about and it affected me so much that I didn’t really take many pictures. And it wasn’t just the acne, It was also the scars from acne (hyperpigmentation) and   I tried everything from doctors to dermatologists and the different products they recommended for my skin. It wasn’t until the second or third year of university that I decided that things that my dermatologist was recommending were not working for me and I no longer wanted to go into Shoppers Drug Mart or the body shop or The Face Shop and spend a lot of money only to be insecure and unsure of what I’m buying. 

So, that’s when I started watching more YouTube videos and I just started researching for myself.  I tried a bunch of different things and I know for a fact Khrystal, roommate at the time, thought I was crazy because I had a mason jar full of sugar, lemon honey in the shower. 

From there I realized that this more natural process was working for me and I thought that other people who experience the same struggle that I do could probably get some use out of this.

The Process

That’s when I had the idea for brown sugar but never fully launched it, I just kind of had all these ideas on my computer and never did anything about it. Two years later and after multiple lifetimes of my computer crashing I  finally said to myself “I actually want to do this, I actually want to launch a product”

I thought of different things that I was interested in and one day I was like “okay, let me just try, let me start this business. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it.” Candle making was something I was interested in, so I went to Michaels and I spent far too much money and bought some products. I decided to have a core amount of stuff that I can make that people would benefit from it. Something that people would enjoy buying, especially if it’s something that they’ll actually want to use. 

What is unique about brown sugar?  What makes it different from other self-care brands?

 For me, a self-care day isn’t necessarily confined to a glass of wine in a bathtub. It can include anything I choose to do for myself that day.  Even if it means going out and coming back and knowing that I get to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie. So, I wanted to give people the opportunity to shop at my site and be like, “okay, When I go away for this weekend for my birthday, or when I stay home this evening or this weekend what do I want to look like?” And if that includes a sugar scrub, if that includes a nice candle, or a sage bundle, whatever that might be that they actually enjoy they’ll be able to find it in the store. So I would say that’s what makes it [Brown Sugar] the most unique because they get all of those things in one place. 

What has been the biggest challenge when it comes to starting your own business?

I think the most challenging thing was not knowing where to start and not knowing where to find all of these things that I wanted to use to make my product. When I went to Michael’s in the beginning and spent too much money on products to make a few things, I just thought to myself, “this is not realistic and  It’s not practical”. So it took a lot of research, it took a lot of time to find better ways to make my products so that it’d be cost-effective for me, but also for the people buying it. 

I also remember messaging people on Instagram that I follow and  I support. And asking “hey, how’d you start your business?” One of the women who responded said it took her $200 and the determination.  I thought “this sounds easy but I’m sure it’s not. But if she’s saying it as simple as just taking the plunge and being willing to make an investment then that’s what I’m going to do”.  But then once you finally take the plunge there’s also the waiting. It’s not just being able and willing to do the research, to do the groundwork and putting in that investment. I also had moments of waiting for people to be interested, waiting for people to respond to you, waiting for the whole process to happen. And honestly, in some ways, I’m still waiting. 

What has been the best part of starting your own business?

The best part has been realizing that there was so much support and that people are actually interested. You know, a lot of times you see people have their friends around them. They’re there for the events, They’re for there for particular things. But do they buy the product? not really. So for me, realizing that my friends actually support my business, outside of just like promotion, and being there not to order just once, not twice, but multiple times. 
Also, another great part of starting this business is that I’ve had this idea in me for four and a half years and I was really scared to put it out there because I wasn’t sure what the result would be. But now i’m actually doing it! The first initial part that was the most terrifying for me, is the part that I got past. So at this point, I’m really just excited to continue to do the work and see what happens from here.

What misconceptions do you think people have about starting a business?

I’d say one of the biggest misconceptions is that not everybody that you have reached is going to invest in your business. Thinking that just because you have 1000+ followers that all those people are going to see your business, care or invest. Lots of people see my story every day, even on my business page, but not all those people order, not all those people are interested.

There’s so much more groundwork involved in running a business and you have to actually be consistent and invested. I’ve seen that myself, there are some days where it’s not that I don’t want to see the business grow, but  I’m just not as motivated because that’s just life. And so as a result, I’m not posting as much or I’m not doing the groundwork necessary for a new business to actually see the results. But when I put in that extra work, that’s when I see the results and those results vary. Sometimes it works the way you want it to and other times it doesn’t. But there’s always a balance, there are good days and there are bad days. And I think a lot of people think that the more that you engage, engage, engage and have a wide reach that it’s going to mean anything and it doesn’t always.

What are your future plans for your business? 

In the future,  I would like to expand the brand even more. At one point I did a poll in regards to offering robes, slippers etc so those are things I would like to add. I really just want the brand to not just be like for your own self-care night but also about ways we could do it with others. For example, brides that want to have a bridal shower, I want us to bring back those lingerie birthday nights, and I don’t want it to just be sexy, I want it to be fun and cute.
I want it to be like all of the little things that we enjoyed when we were younger. For me, when I was younger, I never really liked to go out much. But  I really enjoyed when I was at home doing my own little version of self-care at six years old, being in my PJs with my light-up phone talking to my friend. So those are things that I’m hoping to bring to fruition even in the way that I market my brand. I want us to kind of remember times when we were younger, and reminisce on them and bring it back in our adulthood. 

What are some of your tips for self-care? 

  • Make it a priority and plan it:

The first thing is to make it a priority and don’t put it off completely. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just find whatever works for you,  think about what day you can set aside for you and plan what you want it to be like.

  • Use that time to invest in yourself. 

Investing in yourself can be anything. For me, that’s my time where I sometimes read my Bible or pray. It doesn’t have to be something spiritual or poetic, it could be like reading sister soldier, or reading something nasty ;), making some pasta and adding extra cheese. That for me is a part of investing in myself. It’s the part of making myself feel good.
Also, use this time to check in with yourself, I think it’s super healthy to talk to yourself, have a conversation, it could be out loud or in your head, whatever that might be, check-in with yourself and see how you’re doing. Sometimes, that’s the point where you’re the most at peace with yourself. 

  •   Pick a few  things you really want to do

Pick a few things that you really want to do, and do it. At my job (at Nike),  it’s really cliche because it’s like one of our slogans, just do it. So literally, whatever those three or four things are that you want to do, just do it. Obviously, it should be realistic and hopefully, you have the budget for all of those things, but whatever it is that you want to do, go for it. 

  • Be  Responsible

You should be responsible with your time in the sense that like you don’t waste it away. There’s nothing wrong with just using that time to relax but, be responsible with that time, especially if you’re on a tight schedule or if you have a lot going on in your life. Use that time wisely so that you can do a lot of the things that you most enjoy. So if that means, for example, you like to have a bath, put some bath salts in there, get a scrub, take your time, and take care of your body for yourself, invest in yourself. 

Where can people find you/your business? 

Instagram: @brownsugarbynk