Podcasts | Overcoming Challenges and Planning in Business Interview with Nabila Brabez

Soap Makers Tale

Listen in as Makers share their lessons learned, challenges, opportunities and systems used to start and grow homebased businesses. Get informed, inspired and entertained with a weekly podcast episoap of A Makers Tale.

Overcoming Challenges and Planning in Business Interview with Nabila Brabez

This week we have Nabila Brabez of Lancolia from South Jersey to share her Makers Tale. Learn how her love of scents and chemistry led her to starting her own business. Nabila shares her story and lessons learned growing her handmade business. When I asked Nabila to share a brief bio, this is what she shared:
“I am a mom, a chemist and I’m the founder at Lancolia where we care, connect and comfort with blissful scents and indulgent care..”
Listen in to Emely’s Makers Tale!
Key Takeaways
  • Live with no regrets, have you exhausted all options
  • Marketing can be challenging but you can commit to learning
  • Focus on you and avoid distractions
  • Cash is King but Data is the Empire

Find Nabila online at:

Her website: https://lancolia.com

Facebook and Instagram @Lancolia

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to another episode of A Soap Maker's Tale. I'm your host Zakia Ringgold of LiveSoapschool.com, and this podcast is for makers and would be makers alike. Listen in and get inspired with lessons learned building a handmade business. This week we have nabila from New Jersey. Sorry. I always say jersey that way. I met Nabila at a silk makers gathering and her energy is infectious, along with her extensive knowledge of product formulations. So I was really excited when she said yes to this podcast interview. Nabila has always loved since and has always believed that she could have her own business, tying her fascination of chemistry to creating her own cosmetic products. Nabila, can you introduce yourself to the listener?

Hello. Hello, Zakia. My name is Nabila. I am located in South Jersey in Logan Township, so it's about 20 minutes east of Philadelphia, but on the South Jersey side. My company is Lancolya, and my favorite product to make is definitely Emulsions. So creams lotions. I think it's fascinating to see two very different raw material merge together to give you those velvety pleasurable creams.

Thanks, Nabila. So, as the title of this podcast implies, this is all about a maker's tale, and every maker has a getting started story. So could you tell us how did you get started with your handmade business?

Oh, wow. So, for me, it was a long time in the making since I was young. I always loved scents, so I knew I wanted to do something with Scents. I was also kind of a rebel, and I was like, I don't want to work for other people, I want to work for me. And I always thought, you know what, someday I'll have a business that is related to Scents, right? So I came up with some type of plan. Eventually, I also discovered chemistry and thought it was fascinating. The moment that it became beyond Sense and more cosmetic product was that I had my first summer job in the chemistry field was at L'Oreal, and there I was like, oh, wow, I really want to be the people that make the products. So I went ahead and had an education in formulations, in chemistry and drug discovery. I even ended up I love school, so I even ended up going for a PhD on skin and pancreatic cancer because I really wanted to learn skin physiology. Right? By then it was more than Scents. It was also products, and I wanted to make sure that if I have a business, it will have to be effective products.

From that, I ended up getting a job job in the corporate world because, well, I need to save some money to start a business, right? So it was really a plan and eventually was like, okay, we're ready. We've made our products for the longest time. We've learned some chemistry, some physiology. Let's go, let's put this business together and let's make product and temper people. Make everybody happy to spread and practice joy. And so that's how it got started.

Wow, that's a really extensive background. Summer job at L'Oreal, a fascination with chemistry, drug discovery, and you even went as far as going after your PhD to ensure you were creating effective products. But the reality of needing to fund the business gave you an opportunity to work in the industry before you decided to go all in with your business. So how did you actually make the move to a business owner?

Well, as I mentioned before, it was kind of like a life plan. Now, don't get me wrong, I kept postponing right, because starting a business, it's really scary because you know it's going to be cost consuming. And me, I believe in data. I often tell people cash is keying, but data is empire. And I'm a chemist too, so I felt like I didn't have the data. And eventually it was like, you know what, let's need no data. Let's just go do it and jump. Now, life happens. Everybody has things that happen in life, but you try to make it work. And so there was not really a specific moment for me. It was just that I was exhausted by my corporate job and it was time for me to practice the passion I was built for. And yeah, so that's pretty much how it started.

So it got started and you said going from practicing your passion into a business. And you also mentioned that life doesn't necessarily always go as planned. And so I always like to get some of those challenges that you experienced that others may also be going through. So what would you say were some of those challenges as you were getting started or even today in your business?

Well, that's one for me, it's very easy. It's marketing the product. I come from a technical background and I mean, I'm not a marketer. I don't know how to talk about my product in a way that is trying to sell things, trying to market it. It's hard for me, even right now as I'm trying to describe it. I love making products. I love pleasing people. I love the interaction with people. You know, not necessary to make a sale, but just to talk to people. But when it comes to actually making the sale and instead of talking about the nitty gritty detail of the science behind the ingredients, most people just want to know, well, is that going to cure my dry skin? Yes or no? They're not necessarily interested in all the integrity details. So that I have to admit to this day, I'm still learning. I am getting better at it, but definitely for me, it's more like marketing and sales. Yeah. So marketing and sales, definitely the challenge still is. But you know what? Slowly but surely you keep learning and you keep adapting and you see what works and you move forward.

Sales and marketing so we know how to make this amazing product. We know why it's fantastic. But then it comes to the, oh, here, buy this thing. And so how do you overcome that? Or how do you work through that? Like you said, it's something that you still deal with today. But what are some things that you put in place so that you can plow through those challenges?

Well, I sincerely believe in continuous learning. To me, that's what I would say, like, literally saved me in life. Not quitting, keep the passion going and keep trying to figure out, you know, the different plans. I always have plan A, plan B, plan C in regards to marketing and all these sales, even those call to actions, I'm just trying to learn, try push myself out of my envelope. And it's funny because as a person, I love to talk. I talk a lot. But when it comes to my products and my offer, I just want to be I want to make sure to please people. And I'm just, at this point, trying to surround myself with people that can help me. I always ask questions, and at the end of the day, to me, what I see is the only way to overcome your challenges is to put yourself out there and just try and have plans and see what works, see what doesn't work, and then move forward with what works. And life is a journey, right? It's continuous learning. So, yeah, pretty much putting myself out there and pushing out of my comfort zone is what I do.

Yeah. Continuous learning is truly, truly a difference maker in whether or not we're able to keep going. How do you stay motivated as you are going through all of those things?

What keeps me motivated? I mean, it's hard, really. Business is rough. It's rougher than I ever thought could be. To me, I always see things like, okay, when the day I die, I don't want to have a regret, right? I don't want to regret that maybe I stopped my business too early or I didn't give it a proper chance. And so for me, I really don't want to regret anything. So every time I'm thinking I'm a planned kind of person, so I'm like, would I really regret? Is there something else that I could do? And then I also think about my children, right? Who do I want them to see? I want them to see maybe the woman that has exhausted all option and then decided, well, that's it, it's time to give it. Right. You cannot also force something that doesn't work eventually. Everything comes to an end eventually. So I sincerely believe that, number one, I want to make sure that I'm not going to regret anything that I'm doing. Number two, that I think about my children and I'm like, you know what? I want them to see that at least I try to exhaust all options and until I reach that point, I won't stop.

So that's kind of like what keeps me going. But business, it is brutal. It's way harder than I thought it was ever going to be. Because once you're in business, you're in business for profit, right? You're not in hobby anymore. And so there is all these things that you have to consider and do, and sometimes it even takes the fun out of the passion. But definitely, I want no regrets. So what motivates me is to think, have I exhausted our option? And if no, then let's keep going.

Nebila I love that framing of living with no regrets. Like when I die, nobody likes to think about that. But truly, have you done everything that you think you possibly could and then also being an example for what your kids see as someone trying? And then I also like that you brought up the fact that going from hobby to business, there really is that profit that you are after in the business. So it does sometimes take that passion out of it. So although business can have some challenges, what would you say are those things that you look forward to in your business, whether that be just you personally or even interacting with your customer?

Well, I always say that I would do what I'm doing today for free if bills and money were on a thing. For me. It's really the feedback that I get from my customers when I get people that are really so enthusiastic and so crazy about the product that they buy it and they give it to someone else because they think it's that awesome and that it helped them solve either a problem or something. You know. A bit more deep. Where they like a sense so badly and it reminds them of a moment of their past. To me, these are the things that I love above all. And so definitely for me, it's the customer feedback about their experience, how happy they are. To me, this is really priceless.

Yeah, feedback can be really, really valuable. And I wonder if that's something that is something that helps us to stay motivated or are we aware of asking for that feedback, whether it be good or bad, do we have mechanisms in place for capturing that? So here's my question. If you think back again to when you first got started, or as you've been thinking about the lessons learned or the challenges, what is some advice that you would have for a new person or someone considering starting their own handmade business or even someone who's been in business?

So while plans don't always go according to plan, have a plan and make sure that you can adapt from that plan. Personally, for me, I never realized how cash consuming a business is. I thought I had a good plan and good backup plans. Unfortunately, things happen. And to me, what I see is that what I would have done differently. I wouldn't have left my job until I would pay myself something from the business. The reality is that a business is super cash consuming and maybe I'm more down to earth because some people tell you, yeah, go, leave your passion, leave your passion. But that can be very dangerous because it can lead you to quick failure. For me, if you want to be able to live off of it and really do what you love and stay afloat at a personal level, financially, I would really recommend that you wait to quit your job before you go all in. Now I know founder stories where they left everything and it was so successful right away. I think for a lot of them, they might be the exception, not the rule. And so for me, it really have a financial plan.

Make sure that your family, your livelihood is going to be okay and that you're not going to have to sacrifice too much. So that is my advice.

Having a plan and understanding how cash consuming having a business is, I never really paid attention to what I was paying for. Shipping boxes, gloves, all of those elements come into play with the business. And really having a budget and a clear plan for how you are going to accomplish things that you have set out for your business is really good advice. And what I really love about what you said is don't quit your day job so quickly. Use your day job to fund your business until your business can pay for itself. And so I really appreciate your transparency and really having people to consider, am I making enough in this business to sustain my family and not just jumping because you've heard the latest guru say quit your job. What you see on social media a lot of times is just that, a highlight reel. And if there are those that are being very successful early on, you have no idea what happened behind the scenes, any other marketing they had in place. And what you see is typically, like Nabila said, the exception and not the rule. Nabila I always like to leave room for anything I may not have asked.

So is there anything else that you would add for people?

I would say focus on you, not on others. Especially in this world. It's very easy to get distracted and see other people and you think, oh my God, look, she's so successful and this and this and that. But the reality is that you don't know the inners. You know, someone might have a lot of followers, but they might not get any sales. Someone might be selling a lot, but actually make no profit. So I would say truly, sincerely, the one last thing would be focus on you and what you have. Don't focus on others because then it can get very distracting. So these were my additional thoughts.

That is great advice. Nabila. Where can people find you with your website, your social media handles? Let us know so you can find.

Me online through Facebook and Instagram name is Lancolia LaNcolia. The website is www.lancolia.com and you can also visit me in person with appointments in Logan Township if you're not too far. I love to meet people and talk to people, so if you want to stop by, say hi, just give me a holler and I'm always available through contact@lancolia.com.

Well, that's it for this week's episode of Makers Tale. I'd really like to thank Nabila for sharing her insights. Be sure to check her out on Facebook as well as her website of Lancolia, links to the show notes as well as her social media handles and website will be on the website with the show notes. So what I really appreciated about this interview is just how transparent Nabila was. We often see so much in our tik tok society and social media society, but really taking the time to plan out what it is that we're doing for business and focusing in on ourselves. I hope that you found value in this. I am your host, Zakia Ringgold of LiveSoapschool.com, reminding you to go out and create something amazing. Thanks for listening.

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Zakia Ringold

Serial entrepreneur, certified soap maker, live streamer, mama of 2 and teacher at heart. Zakia is the Founder of Live Soap School an online academy, ByZakia a handmade soap company,  Virtual Experience Design Agency an event planning and production company and MoveBackstage a Software as a service for event organizers. She started all of her businesses online from her home and shares her lessons in an effort to inspire others to follow their dreams.