Our blog series on the firms supported by Business Wales AGP continues with ethical beauty products firm, Naissance.
Founder Jem Skelding was born in Wales and brought up in countries around Africa, where he would watch his mother handcraft remedies in the family kitchen using natural ingredients. Years later, this inspired him to start his own company from a spare room, which has since turned into a multi-million-pound turnover business.
Here, Jem Skelding tells the story of Naissance, shares his experiences and offers tips to other entrepreneurs making their way in the business world.
Tell us about Naissance.
I was inspired to start something, having watched my mother making remedies using natural ingredients. It all started in my spare room.
We’ve always been based in south-west Wales, starting in the Amman Valley before moving to premises in Neath when we needed a larger space.
We now operate from three large buildings, and we’ve installed state-of-the-art food quality rooms with automated equipment so we can meet demand in a global market.
Since joining Business Wales AGP, we have further evolved, and we’ve not been afraid of unpicking things which didn’t work as well as we’d hoped they would to keep us on track.
We now employ more than 100 people in Neath and Germany. And we have a multilingual website, with Spanish, Italian and German channels.
At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients, which means supporting our growers, whether that’s in the developing world or Western countries. We also pay our staff a living wage.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Being awarded Amazon Exporting Small Business of the Year 2019 is a massive honour and a hugely prestigious moment for Naissance. We are continually searching for better and pioneering more ethical and sustainable ways of working and doing things. These things not only benefit us as a business but, more importantly, benefits individuals, communities, society, and the world in which we live. I think the award is a recognition of our ethos as a company.
Being included in the Wales Fast Growth 50 in 2018 was another big boost for us.
We’re always proud of what we do as a company, supporting growers by paying them fair prices for their products, helping them improve production facilities and working with communities to bring clean water to their areas.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
I would invest in major ICT enterprise-level customer relationship management (CRM) software sooner. A system like NetSuite gives better management information much more quickly.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
When we joined Business Wales AGP we had a turnover of about £6m – we have since grown to £19m.
Business Wales AGP has helped with marketing and branding, protecting intellectual property such as trademarking.
Business Wales AGP has also supported us with significant projects, such as improving the design, platform and performance of our website, as well as designing and implementing an enterprise-level CRM IT system.
We have also been helped in accessing Welsh Government Brexit Resilience Fund Grant funding of £100,000 for further automation and improvement of productivity.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Have clear values which promote ethical practices and great products.
● Move fast and build up cash.
● Invest in the best technology.
● Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
For more information on Naissance, visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme.