Published: 17 June 2016

Going native

Law graduate Jade Ollivierre started her natural deodorant empire whilst still a student. She secured £5,000 funding from Student Enterprise at Surrey to develop her product and today is running a successful business. Here, she shares her story.

Tell us about your business

Native Unearthed is a natural ‘gourmet’ deodorant brand based around the concept of ingredients you can understand. Our products are based on the super mineral, alum, a naturally occurring volcanic mineral extracted from the earth’s crust. Our range of deodorants offer a natural solution to beating underarm odour, whilst providing the 28 million people suffering with skin sensitivity with products that are gentle, mild and effective.

How and when did your business idea come about?

I discovered alum in the Philippines. After year and years of suffering from a persistent odour problem, I was astounded by the sheer simplicity and effectiveness of this deodorant. It was capable of warding off odour yet contained no nasties or unnatural ingredients! In being keen to share my new discovery, I noted a gap in the market in terms of an effective deodorant made from raw ingredients. Given the current craze in the UK for ‘raw’ products, I was keen to commercialise crystal deodorants as soon as I could and effectively be a part of a market (natural and organic) that has shown exponential rates of growth in the last decade.

Native Unearthed is a social enterprise intent on going beyond the ‘brand’. Our original intentions were to create a range that inspired, empowered and motivated women to be the best possible version of themselves, through the simplicity of effective hygiene control and cleaner personal care.

At Native, we don’t just talk the talk. To further fulfil our mission of being able to inspire and empower women worldwide, Native Unearthed recently collaborated with charity Helping Hands to send deodorants to 3,000 women refugees in Syria. Our purpose was to restore, promote and sustain the dignity of women who are being forced to endure hardships beyond the comprehension of many.

What start-up support did you use and how did it help?

Native Unearthed was incredibly fortunate to win the Business Enterprise Student Support Scheme (BESSS) award of £5,000. This enabled us to buy our first batch of stock and push money into marketing initiatives that really helped to propel the brand to where it is today. We were able to afford an advert in a buyers’ magazine, thereby giving us a platform to pitch to the largest natural health distributor in the UK – The Tree of Life.

As a result of the backing of the ad, our pitch was successful and we were listed by the Tree of Life within months. Being listed with the Tree of Life gave us the confidence to pitch to prestigious health stores such as As Nature Intended and Holland and Barrett! We are now listed by these national retailers. We are genuinely thrilled by what we have been able to achieve through the BESSS award. Without the award, it is incredibly unlikely that our brand would have progressed further.

Where do you see this venture in five years?

We’re keen for Native Unearthed to expand internationally. As such, we have our eyes on a key distributor in North America known as UNIC. Moreover, in five years’ time we hope to have our own ‘spot’ so to speak, in a department store such as Debenhams. An Australian subscription box has just purchased 1,500 units of our deodorant. We wish to use this purchase as a platform to appeal to distributors in Australia and Australia’s version of Holland and Barrett.

We want to ensure our brand manifests into a social enterprise; we see no purpose on building a business just for the sake of profit. From a personal perspective, I want to travel, learn and make an impact. We have set targets in terms of when we will start making donations and will be donating 10% of our profits to charities. We’ve already started donating to Great Ormond Street Hospital but we are incredibly keen to do more.

What’s the thing you love about doing this?

The best aspect of running my own business is certainly ‘being in control’. In comparison to being at work under the supervision of a manager, having my own business allows me to inject my own creativity and visionary outlook into my work.

Who are your mentors or inspiration?

As an entrepreneur it’s difficult to be specific when referring to who you aspire to be. As a general point, I look up to and seek inspiration from all entrepreneurs who have successfully managed to turn their dreams into realities. As an example, I draw inspiration from Richard Branson, who not only runs a cohort of the most profitable and most note-worthy companies worldwide, but also attempts to help other entrepreneurs succeed in their own enterprises.

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