We had the good fortune of connecting with Trenise Watson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Trenise, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My own self-love journey and a huge need for clean products that work led me to start Asili Naturals. When I first started making my own products in my kitchen in 2007, there was a lack of organic, vegan, or cruelty-free options on the market. If there were options, they weren’t affordable. This left me with few options and as a teenager with a tight budget. I had to settle for drugstore skincare products. While using the products, I noticed regular sensitivity, irritation, and dryness to my face, leaving it in terrible condition. As I struggled with skin issues, I witnessed firsthand what that can do to a woman’s confidence. This was the catalyst for me to start really doing my homework and reading the list of ingredients on my conventional skincare products. I knew that I had to make some changes. Frustrated with the skincare market, I took matters into my own hands and began making my skincare products using only natural ingredients. I wanted to be in control of what was in my products down to ingredients, packaging, and more. When choosing my ingredients, I carefully hand-picked ingredients that were plant-based, responsibly sourced, and sustainable for the planet. As a result of this, I have created clean products that work, clarify the skin, and help to boost confidence.
What should our readers know about your business?
Struggling with skin issues and witnessing firsthand what that can do to a woman’s confidence lit the fire for me to find a solution. Through self-education, I began making my own skin remedies and found that I was both skilled at it and fulfilled by it. It is exciting to see how my products are helping to boost others’ confidence. For me it’s bigger than healthy skincare products, I am on a mission to empower women to feel confident and beautiful in their skin. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced is securing funding. As a women-owned and minority small business, it can be an uphill battle. It’s very hard for people of color and especially women of color to find funding for businesses; that has been one of my biggest struggles. I’ve been using my personal finances and bootstrapping to keep Asili Naturals growing. Luckily, we’ve been having a lot of success to propel the company into the new year. Each time an order comes through, I do an actual happy dance. It’s so rewarding to see my hard work paying off in the form of happy customers! The overflow of customer comments and reviews on our products is priceless. I am most proud of building a company and a community for my customers that supports women in feeling inspired, building self-esteem, and building each other up.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d have to say starting off the day with a scrumptious brunch at First Watch in Brookfield, WI for Breakfast Tacos and Morning Meditation Fresh Juice. I love how everything is healthy and made fresh to order. Spent with a day at Milwaukee Public Museum, being a tourist and seeing the latest exhibits. Finishing the day off at Maxie’s Southern Comfort enjoying their delicious southern comfort style food and crafted drinks. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve relied heavily on advice and support from Bizstarts, which provides the resources and tools for entrepreneurs to grow and organizations to support growth, in the beginning, stages of my business. They provided me with guidance and support to move Asili Naturals forward. Furthermore, living in the information age has given me the opportunity to have access to resources and knowledge at my fingertips, which I am fortunate to rely on. One of my favorite podcasts is How I Built This with Guy Raz. Guy dives into stories behind the world’s best-known companies. It’s worth listening to when starting and scaling your business.
Facebook: Asili Naturals