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Building Success Stories: Angela Ursem’s Food for Skin, from upcycling to minimal-waste skincare!

angela and cathy ursem founders of food for skin

Angela and Cathy Ursem are the founders of Food for Skin. Food for Skin is more than a skincare company. It is born out of two sisters’ mission to revitalize the skincare industry away from waste and pollution. Their brand consists of an upcycling program promising a large impact with minimal products made in the Netherlands. We spoke with Angela about Food for Skin’s mission. 

Hi Angela, FEM-START is pleased to have you here! Tell us, what inspired you to start your own business? And why this business, what drives you?

A more sustainable world! 5 years ago, I discovered how ‘ugly’ the beauty industry can be, by adding, for example, consciously microplastics and other nasties that can harm the planet and skincare products. My sister and I decided we had to prove it can be done differently: 100% natural, vegan, made in the Netherlands. After 2,5 years of product development, we launched a skincare line without any nasties!

What are some of the most essential things you did to get your business off the ground?

We didn’t wait until everything was perfect but pre-launched at an early stage to test, get feedback and improve our product, packaging and communication messages, prices, and target audience. We tested everything extensively, collected loads of data and improved along the way. Was it a perfect launch? No, but it gave us the opportunity to learn and grow, and we kept in close communication with our following! It took two years, but now we have a crystal clear positioning which resonates with our customers.

How did you build your customer base and grow your business?

We build our customer base grassroots, one by one. By listening to our customers, by offering happy customers something for their friends to try, by building reviews and by winning multiple awards. This gave consumers the confidence to try a new brand. The strongest marketing a brand could have is word of mouth! It goes slow in the beginning, but when you’re in it for the long run (which we are) it works out  like a pebble in a pond.

Food for Skin Logo
What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way, and what did you learn from them?

We faced many problems, like wrong packaging, a webshop that did not work, by trying to do everything at once. We learned, for example, that regarding our distribution strategy, we had to choose. It was simply impossible from the start to focus on our own shop, retailers, etailers, B2B and drop-shipping. We saw opportunities everywhere, but it diluted from the core business. We lowered our expectations and selected a couple of sales channels which gave us the right focus. From there we started growing the business.

What is your biggest achievement since founding the company, and how did you get there?

We are very proud of our collaborations and certifications with organizations that have the same goal, like with The Plastic Soup Foundation (no microplastics inside) and we recently became a B Corp. Being on a mission-driven journey (to clean up the beauty business), together with like minded companies helps you to keep aiming to fulfil our mission!

What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own business?

Our advice to other women is to stay bootstrapped for as long as you can make it, so you’ll have the time to build a strong and validated business case with loads of data. Don’t start pitching to VC’s too early; you might have to give away too much too soon. Wait until you are sure about your data, until you have a proven business case that can scale! So far, we are still bootstrapped (after 2,5 years) and we might have to collect additional funding in the near future to start scaling abroad, but at this point we have proven we have a validated business case, which would make negotiations way more ‘even’ to us.

3 key takeaways

  1. Pre-launch early to test! Don’t wait for perfection, it does not exist!

  2. Stay close with your following and customers! 

  3. Fund your own business as long as you can, or you will have to give away too much too soon!

If you’d like to know more information about Food for Skin, click here!
 

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