Liyu Skin is a creative, natural skincare company focusing on marrying effective skin science with amazing African ingredients from mother nature. We are based in London, UK and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which is the inspo spot for our debut product! Liyu is very much the birthchild of my skin-healing journey and a desire for seeing more premium, effective and responsible skincare products in Africa.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
My battle with hormonal acne is what kickstarted my step into the skincare world – I never thought I would be here in a million years, my background is in real estate! I really feel like hormonal acne is just a whole different ball game when it comes to skin personality types – you’re constantly trying to dissect every part of your life to understand why these horrid things are popping up on your face without fail every month. It’s a very real reality in a very covered up world we live in now so this business is just an honest reflection and extension of my skincare journey as a perfectly normal hormonal acne sufferer who managed to harmonise her skin. Liyu is actually the Amharic (Ethiopian) word for ‘special’ and it really embodies the brand’s roots in dealing with that special type of skin that needs a bit more TLC than others.
During a trip to visit my family in Ethiopia, I was constantly bemused at how everyone had naturally flawless skin with hardly any presence of the skincare staples we normally see in the west. I quickly realised that most African beauty secrets were based on natural ingredients but it would probably take some considerable scientific input to help people like me reverse already damaged skin or protect skin exposed to harsh diets or environments (like most of the populated cities we live in).
What makes your business different?
Our brand has a very unique focus on artisan African ingredients guided by European and Asian skin science – it’s a very rare mixture and the best of both worlds. That’s what the world needs really – more unity and more learning from each other. I grew up in a very multi-cultural household so diversity is one of our core values.
You’ll also notice a very personal rather than corporate tone to our brand because the business to me, is very personal. It’s about people and wellness rather than beauty, beauty comes naturally when you focus on loving and caring for yourself and others from your mind and soul. There are a lot of troubled people hiding behind beauty and, I’d like to strip this all back and emphasise that the happiest people are the ones with the real glow up.
Is your business your passion?
Definitely, all the time and effort this all takes is 100% worth it if even one person can make a step to harmonising their skin like I did. I had one message from someone who said our mask has done in one application what their dermatologist couldn’t do in years! I’m living for comments like that – it really is all worth it for me.
How can our readers incorporate your brand into their everyday life?
Our Harenna Honey Mask is a very straightforward and exposed formula – I purposely did this so that our community could really reap the benefits of natural and unprocessed white honey. It truly is amazing, water-less, oil-less and fragrance-less apart from the natural scent of the honey we used which is so potent and soothing. No synthetic chemicals and only nature-derived ingredients allows this mask to slip into any skincare routine without disrupting the use of other products no matter how complex.
If you originally went down the 9-5 route, when did you know it was time to leave and start your own business?
I always knew I was meant to start my own business when I failed relentlessly at exams I knew the answers to and proved to be a really bad employee! I was never sacked or anything but I was pretty unmanageable in situations I really didn’t want to be in. Now not always… BUT I really think being a ‘bad’ employee is a strong indicator of a trapped entrepreneur just dying to come out!
What’s the hardest part about being a founder and what’s the most rewarding?
I would probably say the hardest part about being a founder is managing expectations. Not from others, but your own. An entrepreneur can be their own worst enemies sometimes because we constantly mount expectations on ourselves and hate not meeting them.
The most rewarding I would say is adding value to people’s lives in more ways than you could as a non-founder. Working for someone else I was limited in the opportunities I could offer others (as well as myself), whether that be through my products, my experience or in career opportunities. As a business owner you can do so much more and fulfilling that role is highly rewarding for me – a real entrepreneur works more for others than for themselves.
Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring business owners?
Take the plunge but plan the plunge before you take it – we’re generation now now now and it just doesn’t happen like that. Understand you’ll have to tolerate things you don’t like or even hate doing in order to get to your desired place. It could take months or even years but have a plan and work towards it. I don’t mean to sound utopianly optimistic, but I rarely hear about people brave enough to try failing indefinitely. You will fail, so be comfortable with that but failing is part of the game and those who aren’t comfortable with failure can rarely instigate or handle success (in my opinion).
Where can our readers find your products?
In true start-up fashion we weren’t able to launch our full-sized honey mask as planned. Our most recent set back was due to the horrible coronavirus delaying our packaging production overseas. Although we would have obviously loved to launch sooner, this is a very small issue compared to a much wider problem we hope the world can contain.
In the meantime, we’ve released our mini pot Harenna Honey Masks for sale for a limited time only! They’re a super cute and pocket-friendly way of trying our mask and don’t let the size fool you! You can get up to 5 full face uses out of this or loads of spot treatments. They’re available on our website Liyu Skin and we offer global shipping!