While in her thirties, Reham Essa suffered from a particularly difficult combination of skin problems: acne and aging at the same time. When she couldn’t find a product that could eliminate hot spots while hydrating fine lines, Essa, a pharmacist and cosmetic chemist by training, turned to create a line of products itself. The result is radixi, launched last May. Today, the Ellicott City, Maryland entrepreneur works full-time on her fledgling business, fueled by the positive reviews she’s getting from customers.
Here are our slightly edited Q&As, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories project.
Tell us why you started your business.
The impact of my acne extended far beyond my face – my confidence plummeted and there was a period where I avoided taking pictures and couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror.
After months of experimentation and hundreds of lab tests, I created formulas that helped treat my acne and didn’t over-dry my skin. Radixir is designed to provide a home spa experience. We help women feel confident about their skin – and self-care, self-love and appreciation are a big part of that.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
Most acne-prone skin products on the market today are aimed at younger skin, so we’re giving women with mature skin the right tools to treat their breakouts without contributing to aging.
Our products contain a potent blend of active ingredients and botanicals, and our natural formulations are housed in eco-friendly packaging to minimize environmental impact.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
The testimonials I receive from my clients. I look forward to bringing positive change with our skincare formulas to many more people.
What is your main challenge and how did you overcome it?
Find ways to fund the business and grow it. However, it goes beyond finances – running a business takes time and always challenges you to optimize your processes, identify new opportunities and ensure that everything is moving in the right direction at the right time.
Being strategic about the use of my limited financial resources has helped me a lot in my journey. Also, being honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses has been instrumental in my business. To save money and time, and fill in the gaps in my experience, I made the decision to work with independent experts who could help me propel the business forward and address areas that were new or difficult for me.
What’s your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
If you have a great idea, start taking steps to bring it to life as soon as possible. Don’t expect everything to be perfect because it never will be. Work on yourself and invest in a good team to support you.
How do you find inspiration in your darkest days?
Watch and listen to success stories from other founders. I also find it useful to create long-term and short-term to-do lists. When I’m not motivated, I find the most exciting task on my long to-do list and do it. It gives me the feeling of satisfaction and motivation to do other items on my list.
What is your favorite song to motivate you?
On my busiest and most stressful days, especially when formulating, I like to listen to meditation music. Lately, I’ve been alternating between meditation music and classical cello music. I have noticed that it helps me calm down and focus.
Who is your most important role model?
My favorite is Mrs. CJ Walker. Despite all the hard times and challenges she faced along her journey, she did not give up and she was able to achieve her goals and bring value to others. ◼
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