Jordan Founder of Flora & Noor: On A Mission To Make Halal Skincare More Accessible
Your skin is one of your most precious assets. The health of your skin will often translate to the health of your mind and soul. When your skin glows, you feel your best. It's essential to be aware of what you are putting on your body. The general population has been trying to be as natural as possible with their products—leaning more toward being more safe, green, vegan, and eco-friendly. Most products on the market are toxic. But one population finds it to be a bit more challenging. For Muslims, finding safe cosmetic choices that fulfill their religious requirements in the US is almost nonexistent.
With a background in chemistry, as a pharmaceutical consultant, and has worked for Johnson & Johnson and Allergan, Jordan Karim, founder of Flora & Noor, went on a mission to change this.
She said, "None of the products were permissible for me to use as a Muslim because they did contain alcohol and they did contain animal byproducts. And they weren't vegan or cruelty-free either though they worked. They're definitely efficacious, but they weren't permissible for me—in all honesty, I was using prohibited products. I was definitely using products that I wasn't supposed to be using.
I can create some of these products and formulations that everybody can use and feel proud to use—safely so that you can feel proud and use our products regardless of culture, religion, or skin concern. The most important thing is that I wanted them to be effective."
Flora & Noor is an inclusive skincare brand with halal, vegan, and cruelty-free products. The world is incredibly diverse, and they believe their skincare reflects that.
What fears did you have along the journey?
Jordan feared that people outside her community wouldn't understand the fundraising process she's committed to. She's also worried that this concept won't penetrate the market as deeply as it does overseas, such as in the UK market. She said, "A lot of it is education. And also educating people that Halal beauty is better for everyone, not just Muslims."
So tell us about any major setbacks and how you recovered.
Jordan shared that she experienced consistent setbacks. Flora & Noor launched during the pandemic and struggled with inventory management. Growth happened quickly, pushing back production and lead times. The biggest challenge for Jordan has been funding. Because she created her business to follow the halal guidelines, she cannot take out business loans or pay interest.
She said, "I've used my savings, obviously with Black Girl Ventures, I received a grant. These are my options. My other option is venture capital. And I am actively fundraising. But I'm not allowed to take out small business loans that pay a traditional form of interest."
What's the biggest risk you've taken?
Launching her business during a pandemic with two young children has been the most considerable risk Jordan's taken. She said, "In the beginning, it's exciting. And then, after a time, it's like, wait, what was I thinking? And then you get so far. I mean, there's no going back now. We're here. So it's like, you know, just gotta keep going on this train and just keep it pushing. But that was definitely a risky decision looking back."
As a mompreneur and with funding limitations, Jordan had to rely on her village for support. She said, "I've made it work. I feel like a lot of times, like entrepreneurs and founders, we hesitate to ask for help. And I've had to rely on my family and friends for help with my kids, with the business, with, I mean, just with everything. And I'm like that kind of person, I can do everything, and you cannot do everything."
What are you most proud of when it comes to Flora & Noor?
Jordan is proud of the impact that she's having on the world, specifically the Muslim community, who now don't necessarily have to return to their home countries to purchase Halal beauty products because of her product. She received deep confirmation of this when she had a booth at the Muslim American Society Convention (MAS).
She said, "There's a lot of people that will go to the MAS Convention that make products like in their house. And then they sell them in a booth. But this is really like the first halal brand like we're officially certified—we've been through the processes.
There is trust in our brand. We're completely certified. Even if you're Jewish and looking for kosher beauty and kosher skincare, we also have kosher formulations. So it was just really exciting to see everyone like, oh my gosh, I can't believe this is finally here."
Jordan educated the community by helping them avoid using prohibited products and gave suggestions to Muslims with dark skin tones.
Describe what it was like preparing for the pitch competition.
Because of Jordan's religious beliefs, she is constantly fundraising and pitching herself. However, this did not stop the nerves from showing up. She said, "Other brands and women were extremely amazing. And I was listening like, oh my gosh. But I was also so inspired. I was like, wow. I loved it because I've had people look at my pitch deck before.
But I never had a group of Black women look and listen to my pitch, and they were so honest with each other, and we're so real. I have never received much feedback from other people who have heard and looked at my pitch. And a lot of things that you guys gave back to me, I mean my pitch deck, and my pitch is completely different from when I first started."
Jordan shared some of her crowdfunding experiences during the pitch competition. She believes that entrepreneurs underestimate the amount of people that they know. She said entrepreneurs shouldn't be afraid to ask for help.
Jordan said, "I don't have a lot of friends. I really don't have a huge network. But my mother-in-law does. And they definitely reached out to probably the whole Muslim community and made it happen for me. It is a weird feeling, too, having to ask people for things. I don't know if everybody has this issue, but I hate asking for help."
She said she believes that the excitement of the competition encouraged others to get excited about it because they, too, felt like they were also competing alongside her. She said, "I feel like when you're normally crowdfunding, I feel like it's more difficult for them to see the end results. But I feel like people get motivated by competition."
Her advice to those looking to pitch in pitch competitions is, "Know everything about your business. All around completely. You have to know your financials and your projections for the future. You have to be able to answer questions that people may have never thought about. You have to address that head-on because I'll give you an example. So this makes more sense. When I was pitching, I knew what halal beauty is. So a lot of times when I'm talking about halal skincare, sometimes I talk about it as if everybody knows what it is.
And that's not the case like you're used to knowing and doing your business every single day. So for you, you might assume that people know the littlest things. You have to pitch as if they don't know anything about anything. Be extremely confident, even if you're nervous. Act as if you are Beyonce—you are so confident."
Support isn't always given to Black and Brown women in business; when has this shown and hurt or disappointed you the most?
Jordan said candidly, "I see this every day. I feel like a lot of support isn't given to us. And then I feel like when support is given to us, it's like—and actually, some people are going to hate that I'm saying this right now, but I'll just be completely transparent. I feel like the help is I'll talk to you, or I'll give you advice. But a lot of help that we need is financial. I really do feel like we're given a lot of over-mentorship. Honestly, I feel like a lot of people are given resources and opportunities that are not Black and Brown. I don't know where people think that we just have a super lack of education. I don't know what people are thinking, but I feel like we're over mentored.
You feel maybe discriminated against, and you're wondering in your mind, like, was it that, or was it not that maybe I'm tripping? A lot of things I have experienced are people saying that I'm similar to somebody else that I'm absolutely not similar to. Or deny me resources and support because they've checked a box of something they think I'm similar to."
What's the most critical lesson that you've learned about business?
Jordan recommends entrepreneurs hire help or bring on unpaid interns as early as possible. She understood her strengths and her weaknesses early on. She said, "I am a science person, a formulator. The creative person behind the brand, but not necessarily like creative assets and images and things like this.
I'm also not extremely great at finances. And so it's important to hire people and put people in those positions, especially concerning things like finances and taxes. Because I mean, that's how you run your business. I've seen many people running businesses, founders, who aren't necessarily really good at finances, and who aren't just running it off of momentum but not a financial strategy.
And so that's very, very, very important to have your financial strategy, your finances, your bookkeeping, and accounting in order, that's extremely, extremely important. And at some point, when you decide maybe you need money, or you want to fundraise or do all these sorts of things, you need a data room.
So it's very important to be ahead, and in front of that, because no matter what, there will come a time when somebody will ask for this information, and you'll have to have it together. And you don't want to go back and log four, three, or two years of information nightmare because you're so behind."
What is an important skill or asset you need to succeed in business?
Jordan said every entrepreneur needs to have perseverance. She said, "You're going to get a lot of no's. You're going to get a lot of people not thinking that what you're doing makes sense, do what you believe it will do. You're going to have a lot of challenges come your way. Most of all, as I said, you'll hear a lot of no's, and you have to keep going.
Many of the huge companies and brands you see now, so many people told them, no, so many people didn't believe in them. They had so many challenges; many companies and brands will end up bankrupt and then they'll keep going. And so I just feel even when a challenge comes your way, especially for me, like when I run out of money, and I'm like, what am I going to do?
How am I going to address our money situation, our financial situation? You have to have perseverance and keep going. Especially if you believe in what you're doing and the impact of what you're contributing to your brand or your business, keep persevering and just keep it moving."
What do you think the future holds for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs?
Jordan is excited about the future of minority entrepreneurs. She said, "Our network is getting larger because there's more of us. There are more of us as leaders and entrepreneurs, and founders. There are more organizations and groups like Black Girl Ventures who are supporting us. I feel like it's only up from here. I feel like it's incredibly exciting.
And I feel it's really up to us to network and find these amazing opportunities with groups and organizations like Black Girl Ventures and New Voices, family, and more. I mean, these are incredible. Incredible organizations and companies are here for us. And it's just amazing how we're just really, really killing it, especially in beauty and skincare.
We've always been the ones who are in a way like the leaders. We're always the ones who are setting the trends, who are making these things in beauty and fashion and skincare pop. But before, I felt like a lot of us were not the face of it, or we were not the leaders in it, but we were the ones who were setting the trends. And I feel like now you can see, like, we are the leaders.
What's the most exciting part of your business?
Jordan loves product management and is a natural chemist that loves to formulate. She enjoys working with other chemists to see what should and shouldn't be in the products. She wants to know what's missing and what new products are coming out on the market. Jordan also loves doing events, talking to people, and seeing how they enjoy the products.
How do you measure success?
Jordan measures success by the impact her products have on the community and by tracking the revenue. Her ultimate goal is to make Halal skincare more accessible, so she measures her achievements, such as her products being displayed at Ulta Beauty and in more storefronts. Jordan said, "I want people to be able to go into any store, mass retail, and grab a halal skincare."
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?
Jordan would love Flora & Noor to be valued at one billion dollars, added to more Ulta stores, Target, and Nordstrom. She hopes to see Flora & Noor as one of the biggest halal brands globally and be a household name regardless of region.
Running a business while balancing a personal life can be demanding and taxing. How do you take care of yourself?
Jordan carves out time for herself. She understands her energy levels throughout the day and is conscious of what she can and cannot do. There is a cut-off time for her work, not only for herself but also to make time available for her children. But sometimes, she binge-watches her favorite TV shows, gives herself mini facials, and finds time to get enough sleep.
What is your favorite quote or mantra?
"The worst thing somebody can say to you is no. And if they say no, it's okay because you're still in the same position you were in before you asked the question."
What is a podcast that you would recommend?
Podcast: Business of the Beat Podcast by Kendra-Bracken Ferguson
What's your favorite business hack or app that you can't live without?
Name one food item you have a hard time saying no to.
What's next for Flora & Noor?
Jordan looks forward to having her products in more places like Ulta, The Girl Boss Marketplace, and 13 Moon. Flora & Noor is also working on developing new products, such as a super glow moisturizer with powerful vitamins that nourish and hydrate the skin while decreasing dark spots. They will be releasing a body scrub and body butter. Flora & Noor also has a subscription model for those looking for easy replenishing options for their skincare routines.
Subscribe to the Digital Orange Juice for juicy ideas and the people who fund them. You can find out about our next pitch competitions here. Also, be sure to join our new community BGV Connect!