Jennifer Jackson, founder of cosmetic line Laila London, talks to First Women about how she went from making soy candles to creating her holistic charcoal based teeth-whitener that has become beauty’s new secret weapon.
She said: “I was over 40, no husband, kids were grown up, no job, home or money but just a dream to finally do something with my life that I would enjoy doing.
“The only thing I could think of was to create skincare products and candles because I could create them myself and my family loved. With my business and website skills I decided to start my business full time after all I had nothing to lose.”
Read the interview below.
Tell us bout your company. What type of clients do you work with, what inspired you to start it and how is it different to that of rivals on the market?
In 2013 I started making 100 per cent natural candles using soy wax and essential oils, after a year of experimenting with different formulas and getting the products approved we expanded our range to include natural skin and hair care products. I recently created Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder, which is the first of it’s kind in the UK.
I created the teeth whitening powder after my son asked me to make him a natural toothpaste – I thought he was going mad. After months of research I came to the conclusion that I was no longer comfortable using a fluoride based toothpaste filled with Glycerine that does not allow your teeth to remineralise and other chemicals I cannot pronounce.
After months of research I came up with some fantastic aged old remedies, but made I made it more effective than what was used back in ancient Babylonian times.
This was a product created out of need because if people are going natural the oral hygiene market was lagging behind. With limited funds, unlike Proctor and Gamble and Palmolive and so on, I could have ignored this segment of the market but by adding something I believed in to my product line people gravitated towards it because it works.
I only had £500 to get the business started so every penny mattered so I used my web and graphic design skills and created practically everything and worked hours on end to make it succeed.
I’m a strong believer of natural ingredients so the thought of adding preservatives and other chemicals did not appeal to me. The world is abundant with lots of healing minerals and oils that will nourish your skin, hair, teeth and body so it was an easy decision to make the brand natural.
We are on the quest to bring the best ingredients, herbs and oils to the market that will have a positive impact on peoples health and wellbeing. Take the ethnic hair industry for example there are very limited products on the market that offer 100 per cent natural hair care products.
Most of the products contain nasty chemicals that do more harm than good. After months of research I created a hair balm with more than 12 herbs known to help with hair growth and nourish the scalp.
What is a typical day for you? What does your role entail? What general challenges do you face (if any) as a founder and as a woman in your sector? Are you involved in other projects?
I wake up at 7.00am make myself a fruit and vegetable smoothie, walk or jog to work, answer emails, think of new products to create, formulate, manage marketing team, take phone calls. We are taking part in various trade shows around the world, including on in November 2016 to Jaddah, Saudi Arabia, Dubai beauty show 2017 and various shows in UK.
What are your company’s biggest achievements to date?
We were recently approached by Boots because it wanted to stock our Laila London Activated Charcoal Toothpowder which was the first of its kind in the UK. The product is now in stock at Boots and we will be launching in other major supermarkets, chemists and independent shops throughout the UK.
The product was top in teeth whitening on Amazon and top three in beauty, and also voted top in Boots beauty finds and featured on their website online video. We are really pleased with how fast we are growing and are looking forward to future growth.
What have been the key challenges for your organisation?
Obtaining funds and finding good warehouse space in London that was affordable but we took a negative and made it positive. Since moving to Liverpool the business was able to grow much quicker with the larger space at a good price. We now aim to increase our workforce and marketing campaign so our products can be found in shops throughout the world.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss? What are the greatest lessons you have learned?
We’ve had a few hiccups getting good staff that sees our vision, thankfully we now have a good team and are looking to increase our workforce. The greatest reward is seeing my vision come alive from start to finish and having my son’s working alongside me. I never get bored because everyday is different. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and believe.