Following her desire to alleviate her children’s skin condition, Melissa Allen, a mother of four – two with eczema and sensitive skin, has established her own natural skincare and haircare brand, Lissa’s Naturally Nourishing 

Due to limited financial resources to kickstart her business, she learnt to do everything on her own to reduce expenses. Melissa approached First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans to secure a Start Up Loan when she decided to expand her product lines. 

This article is based on the conversation we had with Melissa upon her loan being approved. 

Being a mom of four children, one of whom has cerebral palsy, my duties as a parent go beyond the ordinary. 

Regular hospital appointments and surgeries made it difficult for me to balance a job, as I would regularly have to be off work with my son. 

I had another child who experienced moderate eczema over the years, which I could manage. However, when I had my fourth child, he had severe eczema after a few months.  

It was heartbreaking to see his skin so broken and sore and constantly affecting his sleep.  

That’s when I decided to take my hobby of creating natural creams more seriously.  

I turned it into a business. 

I left my full-time job as my children’s health demands flexibility. 

Although my employers were supportive and offered the possibility of returning, I knew it wouldn’t be feasible because more surgeries were due to come. 

I felt stuck and uncertain about what to do next. 

At the same time, my baby’s skin showed little improvement. None of the creams prescribed by doctors seemed to work. Every time I applied those creams, my baby would scream as if they were burning his skin. This made me question the ingredients and their potential harm. 

I researched the natural products I had used for my other children and discovered they were safe even for very sensitive skin. 

I decided to apply a small amount to a specific area of his skin and see how he would react. 

My homemade body butters became so popular that I decided to start Lissa’s Naturally Nourishing. 

It turned out my creams worked. My baby’s itching reduced, and he started to sleep better. 

We came back to the doctor for a follow-up appointment, and he said my baby’s skin condition was much improved. When I confessed that I hadn’t been using their prescribed products but instead the ones I made myself, he was very keen to know what it was. 

Encouraged by his curiosity, I began sharing my homemade body butters with friends and family, seeking their feedback. The response was overwhelmingly positive, to the extent that nobody wanted to use their store-bought products anymore.  

At that very moment, I decided to seriously consider turning this into a business venture. 

And that’s how Lissa’s Naturally Nourishing came to life. 

The business means so much to my family: myself, my mom, and my kids. 

It is something that all family members can lend a hand with, something that fits around my schedule, something that boosts our finances.  

My mom has a disability, specifically fibromyalgia, which limits the type of work she can do. But with this business, she can be a part of it in the future as it grows. She will be able to do light tasks like packing and fulfilling orders. I have everything documented, including recipes and methods, making it easy to involve her in the workload. We will be able to adjust the working hours to a manageable level for her with her condition.  

My children contributed ideas for me to create content on social media. Right from the beginning, my nine-year-old daughter kept encouraging me to advertise on TikTok which I initially hesitated about. However, I gave it a try, and she turned out to be right. I have witnessed a considerable increase in sales generated through the platform. 

For me, the business has been incredibly beneficial. My son still has numerous appointments, and I have been able to attend all of them while managing the business simultaneously. I prepare a significant amount of stock during my free time so that if I am busy with the children, I already have products ready to be packed and shipped for orders. This flexibility has been extremely helpful in my situation.  

Looking for business loans to expand my business, I was intimidated by the success stories with large amount of loans advertised in the media. 

After my success with skincare products, I wanted to go on with haircare. As someone with very long hair, I noticed how people often asked me about my hair care routine.  

So I launched a hair oil, selling fourteen bottles within an hour. 

That motivated me to develop a complete range of hair care products. However, formulating hair care items was not an easy task. I needed funding to create the new product line.  

I approached banks for loans, but got rejected, time after time.  

I kept seeing big companies in the press, being helped with their great ideas and given five or six-figure funding to grow their business.  

Well, then with my little skincare store, why would they want to help me, I thought.  

They just won’t.  

After a long while, I came across the Start Up Loan, and decided to give it another try.  

My adviser, Simon from First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans, said my business was in its early stages and shared some inspiring stories. He assured me that they could provide support for all businesses, starting from £500. They are committed to helping businesses at any stage. 

His positive approach boosted my confidence and motivation again.  

I pulled myself together and pushed the application forward.  

More than just a loan, the whole application gave me confidence and hope. 

I had never written a business plan. I wasn’t familiar with terms like “personal survival budget” and “sales forecast”. I was too worried.  

But Simon was there to help. He encouraged me to do my best and assured me that perfection wasn’t necessary.  

He was willing to work with me, review my progress, and provide guidance on any necessary changes or additional information. 

This made the process much less stressful, knowing that I had a dedicated person to turn to for support and clarifications. 

Simon’s quick response time and positive attitude reassured me that he believed in my business idea and was genuinely interested in helping me succeed.  

I felt motivated to complete the business plan and promptly sent it back to him. His assistance was invaluable throughout the process. 

£700 was a small loan amount, but it was enough to help me expand my “little business”. 

I have already started working on my product formulations by purchasing the necessary sample ingredients.  

It’s important for me to test the formulations on different hair textures and use them personally to ensure they are effective. 

Once I am confident in the recipe, I will use the funding to complete the CPSR assessment and purchase all the required products to start production.   

I am also considering allocating part of the funding to other areas of the business. Monitoring different websites and suppliers is essential to optimise my overall costs. 

My advice for entrepreneurs like me is “go into the unknown”. 

If you have a strong feeling about an idea, and it keeps coming back to you, go for it.  

Don’t let fear or discouragement hold you back. Trust your instincts and don’t let others’ doubts stop you.  

You’ll never know what could have been unless you try.  

Believe in your idea, no matter how small it is. 

I taught myself everything using online resources like YouTube tutorials, as I couldn’t afford professional help. 

I learnt to do website design and graphic design on my own. 

I invested in a printer and learned to print my own labels and flyers. 

You can start small and do what you can, when you can. 

Don’t underestimate your abilities – you can learn and accomplish more than you think.