Reuse & Recycle. For decades Americans have been accustomed to disposable living. I taught my son to think before trashing something, can we reuse it? Can we give it to someone who can use it? Does it serve another purpose? Can we put it in the recycle bin?
As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aziza Nicholson, CEO of Raw Beauty Company.
Aziza is an essential entrepreneur, beauty connoisseur and developer of fine plant-based beauty care essentials. Aziza traveled the world researching the best organic ingredients to use for her skincare line. After 25 years working with commercial beauty products, she wanted to get back to nature and source natural ingredients for a cleaner approach.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Absolutely! When I was just six years old I remember selling produce from my mother’s garden. My mother’s passion is organic gardening and our neighbors loved everything she grew. One day she sent me out with my little red wagon filled with ripe tomatoes. There may have been about fifty tomatoes in all; I was a cute kid with big wide eyes and long puffy ponytails, hard to refuse! I walked around the neighborhood asking if anyone wanted to purchase tomatoes. After about an hour the wagon was empty, so I headed home. My mom and aunt counted the money and told me that I sold a wagon full of tomatoes for 200 dollars! At that moment I knew I could work for myself. It would be years later as an undergraduate student at Miami University (I now hold an MBA) that I’d realize my purpose as an entrepreneur.
Organic living has been my foundation. I grew up eating from our garden, where we used only natural, plant-based products routinely. My mom would stress the importance of maintaining a relationship with nature so we could live healthier lives and contribute to preserving the earth. As a beauty professional with over 25 years of experience, I knew it was time to bring my knowledge of sustainable beauty to an industry that’s been focused on using commercial grade (chemical based) formulas. I believe people need to have quality skincare products that are truly based in nature.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Our mission is to provide the world with sustainable beauty products that promote self care and self love. Applying plant based products to our bodies promotes healthy living. Anything derived from nature is far better for human beings as opposed to synthetic substitutes which are potentially harmful with prolonged use. The world has a problem…disease and illness is rampant; climate change is evident and much can be attributed to our lifestyles as consumers. The world needs to understand that there’s a correlation between synthetic chemicals and non-biodegradable waste that is slowly and inevitably destroying the earth and consequently our futures. We simply want to provide awareness and a real solution for people seeking to be change agents; those willing to support sustainable beauty care and ultimately defying age while simultaneously preserving our earth.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
One of our main goals is to minimize our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and non biodegradable waste disposal. Our packaging is more than 90% recyclable, which means we produce less than 10% post consumer waste. We use clear frosted glass which is 100% recyclable as opposed to colored varieties. Our closures are made of bamboo and the boxes are recycled cardboard. We encourage our customers to reuse the packaging and we’re sourcing ways to provide value based refills for products purchased from our store. Purchasing refill kits saves money and eliminates waste.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
The goal of any sustainable business is to provide green solutions to combat climate change. I believe climate change is one of the biggest issues facing mankind. Businesses become more profitable when we create initiatives that compel our customers to think consciously about their choices; how these choices impact their families and the environment. I believe people are inherently good and want to do what’s right. People are searching for businesses that focus on sustainability. If you want to become more profitable, create a solution for your company to contribute to a better earth. For example, if a brand were to develop a natural alternative to their traditional offerings I have no doubt today’s consumer would choose the natural alternative. Tesla is a giant for one reason, they provide zero emission vehicles, a brilliant solution that has other car companies following suit. That’s just it, provide a solution and they will come!
The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
I love learning about the efforts our youth are making to combat climate change. After all, this is their future we’re talking about! My son is 18-years-old. I recently sent him off to attend a university. When he was a boy, I would teach him all the values my mother instilled in me. These values will transcend generations if we’re consciously applying them in our daily practice.
- Reuse & Recycle. For decades Americans have been accustomed to disposable living. I taught my son to think before trashing something, can we reuse it? Can we give it to someone who can use it? Does it serve another purpose? Can we put it in the recycle bin?
- Use resources wisely. As youths, my siblings and I used to leave water running at times unnecessarily. Mother would say, “that’s wasteful, use only what you need”. Teaching our children with daily reminders like turning off electricity and water sources when unused are simple ways to protect our environment.
- Take only what you need. So often I see children at restaurants or even at family gatherings filling up plates of food, taking a few bites then trashing it. According to Rubicon.com, an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year, one third of all food produced for human consumption. Just think of how many families could eat if we were mindful to only take what we need.
- Engage in sustainable mobility. Cars aren’t the only methods of transportation. Rather than call Uber or drive a mile and a half to school, I would encourage my son to walk or ride his bike. Not only is walking or cycling good for your physical health but it produces zero negative effect on our environment.
- Practice mindfulness daily. I encourage my son to meditate/pray daily for positive outcomes, not only in his life, but in the lives of others. I believe in the value of a positive collective consciousness. If each one of us practices mindfulness and embraces the habits listed above, just imagine how we can shift the course of climate change for future generations.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Great question, I could name a dozen (wink) but the five that stand out most are:
- You’ll need lots of patience. Ok so this seems to go without saying, but in reality you have no idea what patience means until you begin to establish a brand! Unfortunately there are no overnight success stories. Anyone who’s made it has a story of struggle that goes along with it. Not only will you need patience but you’ll need unwavering faith and determination in your ability to get the job done.
- Much of your experience will be trial and error. You’re just not going to get it right the first time. Maybe not the second either. You’ll make mistakes along the way, being an entrepreneur is not a clearly defined course, there’s lots of twists and turns. Knowing this just makes for smoother execution.
- Most businesses either fail or succeed in the first 5 years. Many people get started with the idea that they will create a multimillion dollar business in a matter of 18 months. There are a few lucky brands out there, but those usually are here-today-gone-tomorrow gimmicky brands that create something trendy that’s obsolete in no time. You have to be prepared to stay the course if you truly believe in yourself and what you’ve created. You need to have faith that your brand will positively impact lives for generations to come.
- You’ll need a team. Going at it alone is NOT ADVISED. No successful company was ever built by one person. Somehow I thought I could develop my brand and manage it as well. After working on my concept for four years and finally getting products into a few retailers I became overwhelmed with demand. I desperately needed help and quickly found it in my team at IdeaPros. They helped me streamline my ideas to create a brand that evokes passion and serves a purpose.
- The business won’t work if you don’t. So often people sensationalize entrepreneurialism. It’s the “it thing” right now. Today everybody wants to be in business for themselves without realizing what it truly takes to be successful. This isn’t the 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. career. It’s a 24/7 type. You’ll lose sleep, spending nights envisioning your dream of the ideal business model. You’ll spend countless hours networking and talking to people about your vision and explaining how you plan to impact the world. You’ll be responsible for finding financial resources to fund your project so you’ll need to cultivate those valuable relationships in order to achieve your goals. It’s work, work and more work, and you have to keep at it with a positive attitude no matter what.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Interestingly yes, there’s one person who comes to mind, my partner Frederick Cary. Fred is the mastermind and CEO of IdeaPros. Collectively the Idea Pros team has over 200 years of entrepreneurial experience, launching dozens of companies, generating billions in value, and are now working with some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the country, including me. Fred Cary, is literally a Who’s Who among entrepreneurs, he’s launched ten companies of his own and has helped 100s of others.
Our first conversation was five years ago. Admittedly I was a bit intimidated by the greatness that is Fred Cary, he is a behemoth in the business world. He quickly took notice of my strengths as an entrepreneur and the value my business model could bring to the industry. Fred was intrigued by my travels around the world, my studies in business and the effort I had put into developing plant based products. What was meant to be a fifteen minute introduction turned into a forty five minute conversation that neither of us wanted to end!
When he told me what my commitment would be, that I needed to become a partner in order to take my project to the next level, the offer was irresistible. Granted at the time Idea Pros was a relatively new business accelerator with just a few positive reviews. My gut instinct was to take the chance on Fred and his team of experts. I needed to trust them and give them permission to help me. I recall telling him I felt like the Rod Tidwell character in “Jerry Maguire”. I knew they needed partners to build their company just as much as I needed a team to have faith in me; to help further develop my business acumen as well as my brand. I told him if I agreed to partner with him he had to agree to, “show me the money”! I didn’t need him to tell me he loves black people, I felt that beyond a shadow of doubt! My analogy made him laugh and he stated, “I hope when this is all said and done I will have accomplished just that and we’ll have a solid relationship like Rod and Jerry”. And yes, we are friends for life.
“Success comes only to those who take the time and effort to build well-positioned companies.” ~ Fred Cary
“Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity” ~Seneca
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
When we were children we naturally believed in fairytales. Sadly we grow up leaving fairytales behind us, the peaceful veil is removed from our eyes and we begin to witness the unpleasant realities of the world. As a youth I was criticized for being a dreamer; I’ve always had a somewhat utopian vision for the world. I would wonder, why do people grow up and lose faith and hope in their dreams? Why do we have such brilliant minds in medicine and engineering but fail to use natural resources wisely to heal the earth and our bodies?
My goal would be to support initiatives that are already in place for the betterment of mankind. One movement whose concept I greatly respect is the Venus Project. The Venus Project is a non-profit organization that presents a new socio-economic model utilizing science and technology toward social betterment to achieve a sustainable civilization of abundance for all, without exception. The methodologies are designed to realize the full potential of science and technology to achieve social betterment for all living systems. The organization advocates new ways of thinking and living to enable human beings, technology, and nature to progress sustainably.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them“ ~Walt Disney
As previously stated, I’ve always been a dreamer. And beyond this I’ve always had the courage to chase my dreams. Fear is limiting… there are no positive outcomes when we operate from that place. You have to be courageous in pursuit of your dreams… it’s the path to happiness and success. It all starts with YOU. Today I’m beginning to live my dream,
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
You can follow Raw Beauty Co at @raw_beautyco on IG. My page is also @iam_azizayasmine. My social media is in progress so I’d greatly appreciate all the new followers, shares and likes! You can DM me with questions. Also feel free to offer suggestions, we’re always looking for feedback on ways we can improve. Thank you for this awesome opportunity to share my story, #grateful #humbled
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!