MN: Did you have any previous experience in the natural hair/beauty industry before you launched?
TB: No. But, on a personal level, I knew a few things about natural hair from when my mother cared for mine when I was younger.
MN: What type of beauty problems do your products solve?
TB: Many of my products have multiple uses. For example, one of my best sellers, the Unyevu (pronounced oon-yay-vu) Butter can be used on the hair and body. On the hair, you can use it to seal the ends (lock-in moisture) or use it on a wet twist-out.
The ingredients in this butter also help ease irritated scalps and works to eliminate dandruff. For the skin, I’ve found that this product works wonderfully for those who suffer from eczema or severely dry skin. The scent of the Unyevu Butter also makes it a great unisex product and I find that men enjoy using it also.
MN: How did you come up with the recipes for each product?
TB: All of my product recipes were developed through trial and error and research. When I am considering an ingredient, I look closely at the benefits it provides for hair and skin care and then I try to pair it with other ingredients to increase the overall desired effect.
Usually, when I’m making a product for the first time, I think about my needs first but really my main focus is on what problem I want the product to solve. Some of my products, like my Mint Chocolate Butter, are inspired by food.
I wanted to make a butter that did not have shea in it because I know there are some people who do not like it or are allergic to it. So one day, I had olive butter and cocoa butter and I thought, “What if I add this?” I put a bit of peppermint essential oil in the mix and it smelled like a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie! After that revelation I had to figure out what I wanted it to do, so I added macadamia nut oil which helps calm down frizziness in the hair and it goes on the skin like silk! Just those four ingredients created a great product. Experimentation is key.
MN: If you could choose one product that best represents Belle Butters, which one would it be and why?
TB: I would have to say our Unyevu Butter. To create it, I use what I like to call the “Trifecta of Butters” and that’s shea, avocado and mango. These butters just work together perfectly. And this particular product has multiple uses for hair and skin, and it smells amazing.
MN: What were some of the challenges with launching Belle Butters?
TB: The main challenge was fear. I was mostly afraid of the feedback I would receive. So, after I launched, the response was okay and then a few months later, the floodgates kind of opened and I started receiving some not-so-positive feedback. But that just taught me that you can’t please everyone and as long as I remember that, I’ll be okay.
MN: Did you seek out investment before launching?
TB: No, I funded everything myself and still do, with the exception of a brief period last year when I was flown out to New York City to do an event. When I decided I wanted to do this, I sat down did my research, developed the recipes and figured out a budget of what I would need (hardware, ingredients, business cards, shipping supplies, etc.). I took half of my paycheck, got everything I needed and went to work.