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Stella shows science and nature can go hand in hand

Nov 16 2017 17:56

Cape Town - Stella Ciolli is the founder of SKOON (meaning "clean" in Afrikaans), a natural skincare collection using natural ingredients in scientifically formulated combinations. She tells Fin24 more about her journey as an entrepreneur.

Tell us more about yourself.

I am a qualified civil engineer turned mom who blended rosehip oil in my kitchen. I then accidentally migrated to the beauty industry when I read a small filler article which stated that a woman will host on average 515 toxic ingredients on her body on any given time – because of the way modern cosmetics are formulated.

I realised there were very few alternatives and if I wanted to make a difference, I’d have to roll up my sleeves and make something happen. We just had to get this project off the ground.
 
Tell us more about your business.

SKOON is an activist brand at heart. We do not accept that good, effective skincare needs to contain parabens or any toxic ingredients procured at great expense to the environment, and at the expense of women’s health and wellbeing.

We also reject, in the strongest terms, the testing of products on animals.
 
What was the gap you saw in the market?

Science done naturally. Our formulas are based on a variety of pure plant oils, rich butters, botanical extracts and cutting-edge actives with supporting clinical studies.

It must be effective too – a basic requirement for any skincare product – and one we feel quite strongly about.
 
What were the challenges in building the business an becoming an entrepreneur?

One of the biggest challenges of creating a thriving business in an unrelated field is the lack of local mentorship programmes.

If a programme is launched in South Africa to assist entrepreneurs with the myriad of challenges you navigate while transforming your passion into a flourishing business, I will be the first one to sign-up.
 
What were some of the highlights?

Seeing our products on the shelves of Wellness Warehouse and other retailers still gives me a thrill.

Moving into our pink factory with a sublime view of the Stellenbosch mountains and receiving the Editor’s Choice Award from Personal Care (New Media Publishing) for our first anti-ageing product.
 
Future plans?

Fulfilling our orders for a growing list of South African retailers and salons and gearing to being export ready at the end of 2017.

We've had interest in SKOON from all over the world. It is a really good feeling.
 
What is your advice for other would be entrepreneurs?

Try to connect with a "thinking partner", someone you can offload onto and bounce ideas off.

I managed to convince my sister Elise du Plessis and her daughter Emma to join me in my business.

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