“I deeply believe in the power of energy, so what you put out there will be returned to you.”
– Julia Smith
The idea of starting a small business has probably crossed your mind once or twice; being self-employed sounds rather appealing. For Julia Smith, that idea turned into a reality when she founded a skincare company named The Small Sun Skin Company.
A cliché question, I know.
After moving to Germany with her family, Julia took a gap year. However, plagued with the deep desire to continue and further her studies, she returned to her home, South Africa, in pursuit of exactly that. Unfortunately, around the time of her return, Covid-19 dominated the globe, and she had to wait.
It was during this time that she began experimenting with skincare, more specifically vegan skincare products, as at the time she was undergoing a transition from vegetarianism to veganism. She then came to a realisation: vegan skincare products are not nearly as accessible in South Africa as they are in Germany. Thus, she began formulating a business plan that reflected two values that were key to her: accessibility and affordability.
So, Julia started her company, prompted by what she calls her secondary motivation: the fact that she wanted something for herself. Having come from a family that is not wealthy whilst also being the first member of her immediate family to attend university, she created her company in the hopes of breaking a cycle of generational struggle and poverty. In her new narrative, she also aims to give back to underprivileged communities in South Africa.
The name ‘The Small Sun Skin Company’ came to Julia in a rather peculiar way. Amidst formulating business plans, the inevitable task of designing a logo. While basking in the sun, she did research and came up with the idea of a small sun. In her own words: “Each person is like a small sun that shines and radiates their own energy and light, and I wanted my products to reflect those qualities physically on their skin. Thus, The Small Sun Skin Company was born.”
Products: Why Skincare?
Of course, I asked the question: why Skincare? Julia answered with an anecdote. From a young age, she struggled with acne which severely curbed her confidence. Moreover, close family members of hers also suffered from skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, all of which pushed Julia into the direction of skincare.
After having bad experiences with drugstore skincare, it was important to her to create skincare that was not only affordable and accessible but also vegan, natural, and organic, to avoid some of the side effects that chemical skincare harbors.
Products: The Creation
When asked about how she goes about creating the products, Julia explained her multi-faceted approach. The first and perhaps most important step is research: which ingredients would work best together, what benefits they have, and how would they react to the skin and hair? After developing a formulation, Julia envisions the product – how she wants it to look, which container she’d like it to be in, and overall packaging presentation.
Based on that, she designs a label which she sends to a label company for a quote. Julia also sources most of her ingredients, containers and shipping items from local, small businesses which align with her brand. This, along with drawing up a budget is the most stressful part, according to Julia. She tests the products mostly on herself, close friends and immediate family members. Once she’s confident in the planned execution of the product, the creation is underway. After sterilising the containers and creating the products in her home, products are labelled and advertised on social media – and she does it all herself.
Products: The Range
At the moment, the Small Sun Skin Company has nine products in total. These include: a face oil, a facial toner, a cleansing face soap bar, a beard oil, a face scrub, a hair growth serum, a body butter bar, pH-friendly bath salts, and a lip balm.
Products: Eco-Friendly and Vegan?
The Small Sun Skin Company takes pride in being completely eco-friendly and vegan. This simply means that none of her products contain any animal ingredients, and all her ingredients are kosher and halaal. Because they are organic and contain natural ingredients, they pose no harm to the environment as they don’t contain any toxins, harmful chemicals, parfums, or any of the ingredients that you’d generally find in skin or haircare products. Clients can recycle or repurpose packaging once used. The Small Sun Skin Company is also currently transitioning to glass packaging, and this will give customers an opportunity to return the glass packaging once the product is finished, in return for a discount on the next purchase.
Where can you find her?
Julia advertises her products on her Instagram business page @smallsunskinco, and on her Facebook business page: The Small Sun Skin Company. She does the same on her personal WhatsApp status and on Facebook Marketplace. Whilst the Small Sun Skin Company does not have a physical store, they have their own personal courier service in specified Cape Town areas and offer nationwide delivery to other areas. For convenience, collection in Maitland is also offered.
A Small Bonus: Student Discounts!
The Small Sun Skin Company provides student discounts! They offer an automatic 10% discount to all tertiary students in SA. Just mention that you’re a student, and you’ll get 10% off on all purchases.
A Word from the Founder
“I would like to add that I offer custom-made products for customers who request it. With the ingredients I have available, customers can feel free to request whatever it is that they need within that range, or I’ll add it to my product range at a later stage. With this being said, I’d just like to emphasise one small thing that many people probably don’t even think about when it comes to small businesses, and it’s that a little kindness and generosity really goes a long way. Supporting your small businesses allows them to support so many other people, be it family, friends or outreaches and NGO organisations, so don’t hesitate to pay a little extra or even just say hi. Sometimes, business can be really slow and it’s especially at those times that a kind message or generous customer is what motivates us to keep going. With that, I’d also like to thank all the customers who have supported me thus far, and the customers who will support me in future – you’re allowing someone to dream big and fulfil their goals! Thank you.”
– Julia Smith
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