Interview with the Founders of NIU BODY - Connie & Laura
Hi friends! I am pretty stoked about this post today because it’s an interview with the founders of a Toronto Local, female-founded, natural skincare company (checking all the boxes right?!)! I stumbled across NIU BODY in a female-founders directory and fell in love instantly with their business! So without further delay, let’s jump right into it!
Em: First things first, for our readers – tell us a little bit about your business!
Connie: NIU BODY is a female-founded beauty company that creates natural and affordable skincare. We started this company back in March of 2017 initially as a side hustle, and have since grown the product line to a full assortment, including cleansers, toners, serums, masks, and sugar lip polishes!
We’re on a mission to make high-quality natural beauty affordable and fun! We’re so humbled by the genuine passion our followers and customers have for our brand - since going full-time last year, we’re now carried in >330 retail locations across North America, and have appeared in media publications like ELLE, POPSUGAR, and CBC. We’re working hard to develop new innovative products this year, so keep your eyes peeled! You can follow along our journey on Instagram here.
Em: What first sparked your interest in creating vegan beauty products?
Laura: When I was a student completing my final year of university, I began using coconut oil as a natural makeup remover. I loved how effective it was and that it didn’t sting my eyes but couldn’t stand how messy it was to use! Not to mention that the huge jar of raw oil from the grocery store was an eye sore on my bathroom counter. I struggled to find a coconut oil based makeup remover on the market which I could afford on my student budget and so created my own! From this, NIU BODY’s first line of cleansing oils was born.
Em: Out of all of your products, which two are your favourites?
Connie: My personal favourite is the Glow Facial Serum. I use it religiously every morning and night! It’s super light-weight, smells refreshing, and moisturizes my skin without feeling greasy. Pro tip: try mixing it into your face cream for added hydration!
Laura: My current fav is our newest product, our Purify Gel Cleanser. It’s a formulation that I’m super proud of because it’s so gentle on the skin and contains some truly amazing natural ingredients. We incorporated a blend of amino acids which help to replenish your skin’s natural moisture barrier. The preservation system that we use is also 100% plant derived which is unusual in gel-based cleansers! I’ve noticed a huge transformation in the vibrancy of my skin since starting to use this product!
Em: As a Toronto based brand, is shopping local something that is important to you? What kind of impact do you feel shopping local has on communities?
Laura: Local shopping is something that means so much to me now as a brand owner. It really does make a massive difference to buy locally and I love knowing that I’m using my dollars to support other hustlers from Toronto! As a small business, we really see the impact that local shoppers can have!
Em: For other entrepreneurs looking to start a business, what are the biggest tips you would give them?
Connie: Just start. There will never be a perfect time. As a self-proclaimed Type A Perfectionist, this was definitely a hard pill for me to swallow. Laura and I love this saying by Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn) that “if you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” Sure, doing research and testing the market is important, but my biggest tip for starting a business is actually to take the plunge and go for it! Another tip is to reach out to your network, whether that be your friends, family, colleagues, etc. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help, or may know someone who can!
Em: You ladies co-founded this company together and seem like the perfect match! What advice would you give to other start-ups that may be struggling with their co-founders?
Connie: Laura and I have completely opposite personality types and skill sets, which has its obvious perks for a co-founding team. At the same time, because we are different and think differently, we’ve definitely had to learn and adjust how to communicate with each other. During times of conflict, it’s so easy to make up stories in your head and focus on seeing the issue from your own perspective. I think what’s most important is to set aside your ego and remember why you started. When you take a step back during conflict and re-frame your mindset, it’s much easier to work through problems with your co-founder.
Laura: This is a question that we get asked fairly often, I actually recently wrote a blog post about how to find your perfect co-founder match. Something that we’ve learned is that you need to treat the relationship that you have with your business partner the same way that you would treat a marriage. If you’re struggling with your co-founder, it’s probably because there’s a break down of communication and/or trust somewhere. Get to the heart of why this is happening as soon as possible by having very frank conversations together. For us, we know that it’s critical to have quality time together outside of the office and just hanging out as friends! This allows us to stay connected and open with each other. Make sure that you make your relationship with each other a priority and always assume good intentions from your partner - you’re both chasing the same dream after all!
Em: How do you find social media outlets like Instagram have impacted your business?
Connie: At NIU BODY, our North Star that guides all of our decisions has always been our customers. Social media outlets like Instagram are major for us, as they allow us to communicate directly with our followers. For example, we recently posted an Instagram story asking our followers what types of product launches they’d like to see from us. What we learned was that the #1 most requested product was a light-weight moisturizer. We then took that feedback and started the R&D process immediately. We regularly post Instagram story polls and Q&As to interact with our followers to ultimately create products they genuinely want.
Social media outlets also encourage dialogue amongst our community. We feel so fortunate to have such passionate customers (our #NIUCrew!) who spread word of their NIU BODY love with their friends, who then learn more about us through Instagram.
Em: Any last words of wisdom for other creatives looking to turn their passions into a business?
Laura: Just go for it! You will never be able to know everything from day one, so it’s better to enter the market with your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then iterate, learn and grow from there. One of the best things that got me going when I was scared and on the fence was to start telling friends and family about my idea! This held me accountable to them (no one wants to say that they haven’t made any progress when someone follows up in the future) and also I was surprised by the valuable resources they introduced me to!