In Conversation with Muhga Eltigani of NaturAll
Describe your business in a few words?
NaturAll is a clean hair care product line with freshly made formulas on the mission to develop products with integrity while uplifting the Black & POC community.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
There was a Mintel report that stated that one of 12 products marketed to Black women had toxic ingredients which could lead to health defects. I was determined to change that with NaturAll. I started making products from scratch in my dorm room back in college when I noticed that there was a void in the market for freshly made products. There weren’t any products that I felt were performing in the way that I needed for my curls to thrive. So I decided to make products out of fresh fruit. So fresh that you would need to keep them frozen to preserve its freshness.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I am a University of Pennsylvania graduate where I triple majored in African Studies, International Relations, and Religious Studies. I briefly worked as the Director of Marketing for a startup, decided to forego law school, and eventually began working full-time for NaturAll.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I didn’t always want to be an entrepreneur, as my family had very different plans for me becoming a lawyer someday. It wasn’t until I traveled to Ghana and Sudan to visit family and I saw how lustrous their hair was from using natural products; so I “big chop” and cut my damaged and thin waist length hair; leaving only five inches left. From there I started using regimens I learned from the women in Africa, launched my YouTube to document the process, and stumbled across an audience of women that were willing to pay for all-natural products. I was able to convince my very traditional-African parents to let me try entrepreneurship for two years before I was supposed to attend law school, and five years later I’m still giving this a shot.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I would constantly re-work my business model to make sure that we were succeeding in e-commerce, raised funding via Indiegogo, and created a subscription model that our customers love. I mostly used my Youtube channel and Facebook ads in the beginning to get the word out, which really helped to expand my reach.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
The pandemic has affected our supply chain as we had delays in some of the ingredients we source as well as one of our manufacturers had to shut down. Therefore, we had so many items out of stock which worried our consumers. We shifted gears and offered our customers a free hand sanitizer with each purchase so that they know we are thinking about them. The biggest lesson we learned is how to help our community during this time.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I am really proud to have made it 5 years with NaturAll. Since its inception, NaturAll has grown from a series of deep conditioner experiments in my Philadelphia kitchen to a rapidly growing 30 member team that is taking the beauty industry by storm. Also, making Forbes 30 under 30.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I don’t have any go – to interview questions, but I like to look for like-minded people that have the same passion for innovation and being behind a groundbreaking concept that is NaturAll Club. When hiring your team for a startup especially, they must be self starters, solution-oriented, and flexible. I am proud to have such a young, talented, and diverse group of individuals to call the NaturAll team.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
One of the biggest lessons that I learned in 2020 was to be grateful for the small things. I am grateful to still have my health, my family, and such an outstanding team at NaturAll that always helps me keep a smile on my face.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
It is critical to know that everyone is still figuring it out. I have met some of the most seasoned entrepreneurs out there and they never cease learning, trying out new solutions to complex problems, improving efficiency, and employing new strategies for growth. Consumer markets are always changing, providing new entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow, adapt, and increase revenue.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’ve been cooking a lot lately and notice that I cook more when I’m stressed or anxious. Cooking helps me take my mind off of whatever is stressing me by making me excited for what I am about to eat. I cooked food from Nigeria, Thailand, India, Poland and Mexico. It’s also helping me travel the world through my ingredients.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I do! I think the best way to handle work/life balance is to prioritize by creating to-do lists for your day. Be cognizant of when your energy is low and extend yourself grace for when you feel you’ve reached your limit.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means creating something from nothing and having grit and determination to see it through. Immigrants have to create a new life for themselves in a new land, much like the entrepreneur who quits his or her day job for his or her passion. For my family, we went from sharing space in a family member’s home to owning our own house. Entrepreneurs know hard work is needed to provide themselves the best opportunity.
Collectively, we challenge these uncertainties for the hopes of a greater reward for ourselves and others: our families or customers. The payoff, whether financial or social capital, ultimately creates a sense of self that affirms your role in society. The calculated risks immigrants have taken and continue to take are done in a style unique to their circumstances. They leave sizable impacts on the American Dream. It’s a dream so revered, it is fiercely sought by the people who understand the freedoms and virtue of America. As I continue working on my hair care company, NaturAll, I hope I can take from the lessons passed to me by my hard-working parents, in order to improve on my venture.