By Valentine Skin is a new vegan beauty range founded by full-time pharmacist and entrepreneur Valentine Sibanda. She started the brand late last year due to frustration and wanted to find out what would work best for her skin. After trying a plethora of other products, Valentine decided to start her own brand. We discuss balancing a 9 to 5 with a flourishing business and much more.
What inspired you to create By Valentine Skin Care?
I would say frustration mostly, because I was just tired of trying different skin care products for my skin and I still couldn’t find anything with a permanent solution. I would try this product and it would be great for a month or two then I’d be back to square one. As I have oily skin, come summer I had to reevaluate my product choices, same during winter and this cycle was getting exhausting and my skin had become dull at one point and I didn’t know how to fix it.
I came across a different combination of natural ingredients through research trying to find something to try out. I thought about all the products I had tried over the years and I couldn’t think of a single product with a variety of natural ingredients. Normally, the skin care products I’d come cross would have one or two ingredients listed as being 100% natural but then will also contain a tonne more ingredients which are synthetic and sometimes skin damaging chemicals. I was impressed by the idea of a product consisting of only natural ingredients and nothing else.
I contacted one of the private labelling manufacturers that I had come across to discuss some of their formulations and I requested for samples which I tried in a pursuit to fix my skin. I got rid of all the products I had at the time and I told myself I will stick with a few and await the results, and I wanted to be as minimalistic as possible so that my skin is not confused. After seeing remarkable results for myself, By Valentine Skin Care was born.
You’re a pharmacist by occupation, how do you balance your full-time role with a business?
I like to be busy, during the day I’m doing my 9-5 pharmacist job and after that I check for new online orders and get these processed straight away. I move around a lot being a locum pharmacist, so I would check my location for the following day or upcoming few days and search to see if there is a post office nearby, so I take the orders with me on my way to work and drop these off at the most convenient post office or I post them out during my lunch break if there is a post office close enough to my workplace. I wanted to be able to run this business without having to quit my career, so I set it up in a way that allows me to do both. I use weekends to catch up with the business orders, enquiries etc., keep the business up to date on social media – basically the weekend is for rounding up and preparing for the coming week. It works well, I know during the week I’m in full time pharmacist mode and the few hours spare after work are for business and anything else that’s left to do will be done over the weekend. The pandemic kind of helped, without the pressure of setting aside time for socializing etc.; but when the world is back open again, I will make time for that as well.
What are the main challenges you have faced since starting By Valentine and how did you overcome?
It was difficult deciding whether to get into the beauty and cosmetics industry or not, seeing how over-saturated it is but I realized the formulation of By Valentine Skin Care products is unique and it is what is needed in the market, so I followed it through. When I began piecing everything together, I also realized there was so much to be considered, some things I hadn’t even thought about and there are still new things popping up even now. This has been a learning process as much as it is an experience. Marketing is still challenging but I am getting better at it by allowing myself to work with other people. At first, I was doing it all alone and I wasn’t achieving a lot by doing so. It has been helpful to collaborate with different people and working together with experts in this field.
Can you tell us a bit about your range and what distinguishes the brand from other skincare products currently on the market?
The main thing that distinguishes ByValentine Skin Care from other brands is that it is a ‘one fits all’ brand. It solves multiple skin problems not just one – with proven results, the transformation is too obvious. The Black Clay and Liquorice Face Mask, the Vitamin ACE Facial Serum, Vitamin ACE Moisturizer, and the Rose Aloe Toner, all can be used on all skin types, they are not necessarily skin- type specific. Whether it be oily, combination, dull, dry, acne-prone, blemished skin etc., if you pick any from the range of four, it restores the skin, it corrects the problem. The four products can be incorporated into a simple skin care routine and can be used. They work well with other skin care products/brands. You can’t go wrong with natural, and the products are not specific to one type of skin problem or skin type it just shows that the natural ingredients used to formulate the products become symbiotic with the skin. Most products on the market are specific to different skin types and some are not suitable for sensitive skin – By Valentine Skin Care is suitable for use on sensitive skin and helps with other complex skin problems such as eczema and acne. By Valentine Skin Care is not gender specific, the products do not contain parabens or sulphates, not tested on animals, vegan friendly and Halal therefore makes it an all-inclusive skin care brand.
Tell us about the formulation process, what goes into making the products and are all your ingredients natural?
All the ingredients are natural, formulated in a GMP-accredited manufacturing factory with in-house technicians who ensure that up to date cosmetic regulations are adhered to. Cheap and synthetic ingredients that are common in today’s cosmetic marketplace are avoided.
What advice would you give to other budding beauty entrepreneurs who want to start their own business?
The advice is to not give up no matter what, taking one step at a time is key because this way you can be sure that everything is thorough, all boxes s is ticked. Whatever the venture, complying with cosmetic regulations is important as well as attaining the necessary certifications, this gives the consumers the confidence in your business and how you operate. Most of all, have fun with it, do not be fixated at the idea of gaining profits over night, it is a process – this mindset will help to maintain your focus and keep your eyes at the goal.
How has the pandemic affected your business? How have you adapted?
By Valentine Skin Care launched in October 2020, it was lucky that some of the restrictions had been lifted and measures were put into workplaces to adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic. Therefore, the orders placed were fulfilled on time by the manufacturer with a turnover of 3-4 weeks. It is primarily an online business whereby orders are placed online via the website; the business was not affected. However, had the business launched before the start of the pandemic, I believe it would have been affected during the time everything was at a standstill with factories closed as well.
Is there a particular moment within By Valentine’s history that you are particularly proud of?
The launch day, it was confirmation that all this was now a reality. I had a minor setback; I had a stock of products for sale, but I did not have a live website because a web designer had really let me down even after I had paid fully for the services. I sat for 48 hours with 4 hours sleep to create and design the website myself because I was eager to get the business off the ground. I thought to myself chasing up with the web designer and thinking about the lack of competency on their part and failing to deliver was just going to be a waste of time rather than solve the problem, so I felt proud when the website was live. It has since been revamped by a professional though.
If you could go back and give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself to take it easy, nothing happens overnight; it takes time, effort, and dedication. I would also give myself props for choosing the MPharm degree, as well as being passionate about health and patient care, the chemistry and pharmaceutical knowledge helped in deciding what goes into the formulation of the skin care products. It makes it very easy to recognize and differentiate between safe and harmful chemicals.
You can find the brand here: https://www.byvalentineonline.com/