It's no secret that many skincare products on the market are filled with toxic additives for our health. With more and more people looking closely at labels and the impact of ingredients on their health, they're searching for products that are free of toxic chemicals. This movement has prompted more entrepreneurs in the beauty care industry to create products that are healthy and toxic-free.
Chantee Butler, Founder of Nayko Naturals, is one of those entrepreneurs. Seeing a gap in the market for naturally based body butters, she went to work. After realizing that most people didn't have the necessary ingredients or the time to create their own natural body butters, Chantee wanted to create a product that was accessible to all. Named after her sister-in-law's nickname Nayko, who unexpectedly passed away—she, too, was very passionate about skincare products for women. This was her way of honoring her.
What are you most proud of when it comes to Nayko Naturals?
"I would say the way the brand has exponentially grown," said Chantee. Nayko Naturals is relatively new to the market, and within only a few months of its inception, it has been well received. She believes people believe in the vision, and it also shows her the need for her product in the market. As a result, this has inspired her to push her products further.
What's the biggest fear you had during your business journey?
Like most entrepreneurs, Chantee feared that no one would buy her product. With several skincare brands on the market, she believed she was entering an oversaturated market. However, differentiating her brand and what it stands for has created success for her company. For Chantee, excitement has replaced her fears.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition?
Last May, she graduated from Wharton with her MBA. As an entrepreneurship major, Chantee had the opportunity to work on her business while she was at school. She was able to do extensive research to understand product-market fit, who she wanted to target, what the market size was, and everything else that goes into starting a business. At school, she created the first version of her pitch deck.
Chantee shared her story and received feedback from her peers and professors, allowing her to iterate. She updated her pitch deck for the pitch competition, practiced, and made sure she told a powerful story. Chantee shared her experience at the BGV pitch practice, "I think that it was amazing, having an actual venture capitalist there to, you know, get feedback on my pitch from you know? That's what he does all day. He hears people pitch their ideas. Being able to get that live feedback was invaluable."
Chantee used her pitch funds towards photo shoots and marketing. Much of her sales have come from word-of-mouth referrals. She's excited to see what happens when she places dollars behind her marketing campaigns.
Chantee's advice for those entering pitch competitions is, "I would definitely say, practice, practice, practice. And then I would say make sure you do go to pitch practice when they have them. Take the feedback, you know, make the necessary edits. I would also say even just get people who know your brand so that you know, your significant other, friends, mentors, see if you can pitch it to them. Make sure that it makes sense to them. Again, have confidence. Have confidence when you pitch, you know, I think that's something that, you know, you can't say enough that confidence speaks for itself when speaking about your business."
Tell us about a significant setback you had in your business and how did you recover?
Nayko Naturals is new to the market. Therefore, it hasn't been met with any significant setbacks. However, launching a business during the pandemic was a massive risk for Chantee. She believes skincare is a necessity. However, most people use their discretionary income to purchase all-natural skincare products. With the economy struggling, buying beauty products isn't a priority for most. She's thankful that she didn't have a brick-and-mortar location. However, she had seen a decline in sales during the pandemic.
How do you measure success?
"For me, I measure the success of Nayko Naturals on the Impact we have on people's lives." Chantee enjoys reaching out to people on social media. After connecting with a nurse who constantly washed her hands, she sent the nurse a coupon code to purchase Nayko Naturals hand salve. Chantee was pleasantly surprised that she bought it and left an unsolicited review that mentioned this being the only product that works for her hands. This not only gives her insights into her audiences but brings meaning to her creations.
Support is not always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Surprisingly, Chantee hasn't experienced any disappointments because her business is so young. Fortunately, her friends and family are constantly purchasing products. She hopes that she can ride the wave of support for as long as she can.
What's the most critical lesson you've learned about business, in general?
Chantee said, "I would definitely say you never know it all. You know, not to think that I did, but even things that I learned in school, you know, just running this business I'm like wow, I never learned that in school." She referenced the amount of technology to help run your business; shipping fulfillment to marketing was a learning process. Being part of Tech For Black Founders gave her exposure to different tools and resources for marketing that she's still figuring out how to use. There's a massive learning curve that you experience when you start a business. She further added, "I think it's important to keep that appetite there, that appetite to learn because it's a journey."
When asked if there was a time she ever wanted to quit, Chantee said not yet. What has been frustrating for her is the amount of time she needs to get things done in her business and yet not being at a place to hire out. Because she's the CEO and every role in between, it is difficult for her to focus when everything feels essential. She's learning to prioritize and break tasks into chunks.
What do you think is an important skill or asset you need to be successful in business?
Chantee shared, "I would say grit and being scrappy. And so you know being able to do a lot with a little is important. I think that utilizing resources that you do have instead of focusing on the things that you don't. All of those are things that I think are necessary to be successful, especially as a small business, especially just starting. You really have to be resourceful with what you do have. And again, really just believing in your idea and having that confidence. If you believe in it enough, there's a chance that somebody else will too."
What's the biggest risk that you've taken so far?
The biggest risk that Chantee has taken in her business is creating a new product for men called Nayko Black. She knew her target market was women, but she's seeing that men are caring for themselves more, taking care of their skin and hair. They, too, care about self-care and want to look good. She created a beard and oil balm for men. It's not always easy to know which point in your business you should take these kinds of risks, so it might be wise to tease and test out the market first.
What's the most exciting part of your business?
"Every time I get a sale, I just get very excited. You know I'm still doing everything myself, so you know, just packaging it, and being able to put everything together, in a box and take it to the post office, because I'm doing everything on my own. You know I still get excited about that," said Chantee. She enjoys envisioning the customer experience. She takes pride in the experience and making everything by hand.
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs and small business owners?
Chantee shared, "Black women are the future. They are the future. We are taking over, thankfully, you know, programs like Black Girl Ventures, and several other organizations helping Black women, especially during these times like COVID, thankfully that help us to stay afloat. Because we are the future, we're the most innovative. We are the most creative. I think that everybody leans on Black women for a lot of things. I'm excited for what the future holds."
If you and I were meeting three years from now, looking back, what would it take for you to feel over the moon about your progress?
Chantee hopes three years from now she hopes that Nayko Naturals would have a stylist, expanded customer base, small-batch manufacturing, and a robust social following. And that they would be a successful brand that she's proud of. She has big goals for the brand, and the future is bright.
Running a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing. How do you take care of yourself?
Nayko Naturals is about self-care. It's about getting back to basics using natural ingredients. The brand is an avenue for self-care for others and encourages people to take care of their bodies in the best way possible. And everything starts with the ingredients that you consume. For Chantee, Sundays are her special day. For the past ten years, she's used Sundays as a day to focus on her self-care. She'll give herself a manicure and pedicure and do a foot spa where she soaks her feet. She does this every week. Daily, she takes an hour out of her day to read, whether professionally or personally. She spends time with her husband going on walks around the neighborhood to get fresh air.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
If you can't find it, then create it. That's how Nayko Naturals got started, whether it's as big as starting a business or something as small as joy.
What is your favorite book and podcast?
Book: Obsessed by Emily Hayward.
Podcast: Side Hustle Pro.
What's your favorite business hack or app that you can't live without?
Her accounting software, Planoly and Later.
Name one food item that you have a hard time saying no to.
Popeye’s chicken sandwich.
What's next for Nayko Naturals?
There are great things in store for Nayko Naturals. She is entering the world of marketing, and there's a lot for her to learn and do. She is doubling down on marketing to reach more of her audience. Lastly, Chantee said, "Any aspirational entrepreneurs out there, just do it. If you have an idea that you truly believe in, then put in the work and do it."