Entrepreneur makes a dive into cosmetics
Worried about the chemicals in beauty products, Kayuntae Ming created her own.
She's now offering everything from lip balms to bath bombs through her company, His N' Hers Hair & Beauty Boutique.
The products are all natural, made by her, in her parents' kitchen.
“I just thought the natural way is always the best way to go,” the 19-year-old said. “I lost an aunt to breast cancer two years ago. I didn't want the same thing to happen to me.”
She'd been scared by articles she'd read that claimed certain chemicals used in beauty products caused cancer.
Sodium lauryl sulphate, for example, can become carcinogenic when combined with other chemicals; parabens are associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
She threw out her favourite hairstyling gel, deodorant and talcum powder and started looking for more natural options but the few she found were too expensive.
YouTube taught her how to make her own.
“Because I was making it myself I knew there weren't any dangerous chemicals in it,” she said.
Still, it wasn't easy. The aloe and oatmeal body butter she made turned mouldy after a day or two; her early bath bombs were more flop than fizzle.
Careful research helped her through and last month she was named one of six winners of the Bermuda Economic Development Company's Vend 2 Win competition.
Judges were particularly impressed that she was so young.
“I was really excited to get this award,” said Ms Ming, who graduated from CedarBridge Academy only two years ago. “I couldn't believe it, truthfully. I felt like my hard work was really paying off.”
As part of the competition she sold her products at a vendors' market.
Judges looked at how well she knew her products, her customer service and how efficient she was at handling cash.
“They sent around secret shoppers to find out about us,” she said.
The prize was a trip to Brooklyn to sell her products at a vendors' market and attend a few workshops.
“We have to ship them ourselves,” she said. “Right now, I'm in the process of figuring out which is the easiest way for me to do that.
“I contacted a couple of places and have been getting some ridiculous quotes; that's kind of a deterrent.”
Ms Ming was working at Rosewood Bermuda until November when her contract ended.
She figured it'd be difficult to find a job in the off-season and launched her company as “back-up”.
The limited business savvy she had, came from a camp she attended in middle school.
“My mother made me do it,” she said. “At first I wasn't very pleased, because I wanted to spend the summer with my friends.
“Now I'm really glad I did it. I've always been creative, so I love drawing up flyers and that sort of thing.
“I had some people tell me the first year is always going to be the hardest year, and I would have a lot of setbacks.
“I am an optimist. I look at the positive aspect of things. I decided that instead of the worst year, I could have my best year as I worked to promote the business.”
Social media helps.
“I spend a lot of time there anyway,” she said. “I just channelled that time into promoting my business.”
Once she mastered the YouTube tutorials, Ms Ming started experimenting.
Aloe and oatmeal helped with acne; coffee worked as an exfoliate.
“One day I saw some peppermint growing in a neighbour's garden, and I thought, that's supposed to be good for you, I should try to incorporate that.”
The result was her peppermint beard oil.
“I started adding my own ingredients and adding my own twist,” she said.
Family and friends gave “a lot of positive feedback”.
Ms Ming delivers her products between St George's and the City of Hamilton for free; she charges a $2 fee to people who live further west.
Products range from $8 for bath bombs to $16.50 for body butter.
“I have been really surprised at the amount of people who are into natural products,” she said. “I didn't realise so many Bermudians were looking for the same kind of alternatives I was.”
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