Purvi Desai of Zaaina Skincare on turning her hobby into a full time business, and finding a new perspective through entrepreneurship

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Describe your business in a few words?

Established in 2010, Zaaina was founded based on the need for clean bath & beauty products made with simple but effective ingredients. Zaaina is an all-natural beauty brand, focusing on creating clean formula-based products for modern lifestyle.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I was always passionate about natural living, especially using the natural products for my daily skincare and body care. When my high paying job was shifting to another state, I took my faith into going after my passion instead of moving.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I received my Finance degree from Pennsylvania State University. I worked for many fortune 500 companies for 10 years prior to starting my business.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Never in my wildest dream did I think I would be an entrepreneur. I always dreamt of climbing the corporate ladder, but not starting my own business.

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?

My business started as a hobby. It was something I was doing which was making me happy. To take that further, every weekend I started going to farmers markets to sell my products. When I saw the response I was getting and seeing repeat buyers showing up at my booth every weekend, it pushed me to create a website. We never spent any money on marketing or any strategy. Our happy customers were advertising for us and also giving us ideas on what new products we can make for them.

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?

That is absolutely true. We have made many mistakes throughout our journey. During every phase of our business life, we have had challenges and obstacles. In the beginning it was about getting the formula right and then making sure packaging is safe. Shipping the products on time to ensure no damages occur during the transit. Slowly, it was all about manufacturing enough inventory and scaling up. Each challenge came with a lot of “how will we do it”, “what if it doesn’t succeed” and many other questions, but it was not given up on. We kept a “find for the answers as we go along attitude” which made us keep on pushing further.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Just seeing how far we have come along without having any mentor, guidance, resources or funding to back us up. We had to figure everything out on our own. From a small home-based business to now a well-known household brand is a huge accomplishment for us. Working with biggest names such as Costco, 1800flowers, West Elm, Uncommongoods, Etsy, and Amazon and earning a “best seller” tag from them is something we cherish every day.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

We strongly believe that having the right personality is the key when hiring team members. Work can be taught, but personality cannot. Our questions are always based on understanding how each candidate is handling the work environment, what their ambitions in life are, what they like to do for fun, and their thoughts on social life. Many of the life-related questions can tell you a lot about a person and how they think. The rest comes very easy.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Being in a natural beauty category, our business has grown substantially in COVID-19.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

Over the next few years, you will see many new products and also see our products on the shelves of big retail stores.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Put your mental health first. 2020 has changed many things for all of us. As a mom, entrepreneur, daughter, wife, sister, friend…a woman who plays a lot of roles. Handling stress of the unknown and working tirelessly every day is something only another woman who is going through the same situation would understand. It was very hard to balance a lot of emotions. Meditation helped tremendously, but being aware of what was going on with myself and taking the right actions was the key.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I believe what I know now is based on the hustle and struggle I have gone through for years and still go through. The only thing I wish I realized when I first started the business was the grass only looks greener on the other side.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I have started to take small breaks for myself. I have started to do more meditation and observe my thoughts more often. I began trying to prioritize life and living in the present more.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I am still figuring out how to have a work/life balance. I hope I have an answer to this question one day.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I love cooking fancy meals and love hosting parties. Vacuuming and mopping the floor is a form of therapy for me. During Mother’s Day back in May 2020, when my team members could not come in to work, I packed and fulfilled Mother’s Day orders for straight 72 hours with only 3 hours of sleep.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

  • Create daily to do lists to ensure the most important tasks are done first and to make sure they are crossed off.
  • Stare at the vision board for 10 minutes and visualize.
  • Be grateful for everything you have.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being an Entreprenista made me realize the skills and personality I never thought I had. It has given me a completely new perspective about my abilities, life, and what it takes to go after what you truly desire.

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