It was back in the Summer of 2010 when I had just finished the first year of my BA Hons degree in Media and Communications at Birmingham City University, that I had the idea for my business. As a vegetarian I and had become increasingly concerned by some of the ingredients in many well know High Street beauty products and cosmetics. Animal fats, crushed beetles and pig placenta are common ingredients as well as harsh alcohols. These ingredients are used predominantly because they're cheap and they're used as fillers but are clearly not ethical or good for the skin.
Over the summer I started to research halal products as I found their stringent criteria matched my own beliefs. I then found that actually there was a demand for these products not only from the Muslim community but also from vegetarians and vegans. In Islam, 'halal' means permissible or what is allowed in the Muslim faith. Where beauty products are concerned animal ingredients, animal testing and haram alcohol is forbidden. Halal certification is a strict process whereby the products are tested and certified halal meaning they comply with Islamic law. I was convinced that there would be a demand for these type of products.
Initially I was going to run the business online and thought that maybe I would be able to combine business and studies. One day whilst shopping, I came across a very small but perfectly usable unit in The Pavilions Shopping Centre in Birmingham. The unit had been empty for many years basically because it was too small for most businesses. I managed to get the unit at a very good price and with the help of friends and family painted it and did it up myself to keep costs as low. I soon realised that I had created something very special and was determined to dedicate all my time and energy into the business in order to give it a chance to grow.
There's no way I could have combined both the business and studies so I made a choice and put my degree on hold. I believe I made the right decision and I found that I had learnt many useful things on my degree course that were very much transferable to the world of business, so my studies were certainly not a waste of time. At first there were so many new things that I had to get to grips with. Everything seemed so confusing; corporate tax, vat, rent and business rates, importation duties, my head used to spin with it all. As time went on though, I did plenty of research and sought advice from people like business link and my local chamber of commerce and things became a lot clearer. Everything in business is a learning curve and every day presents new challenges and obstacles to overcome. Pure Halal Beauty is a unique concept and the first store of its kind that sells solely halal certified beauty products.
When our store first opened in December 2010, we received a lot press features and articles from around the world from national press, international press, local press, bloggers and we were even on television.
As the months went by I realised that some products although they are halal are not particularly natural with regards to their ingredients. I knew we could improve on the products that were available which is when I decided I wanted to create my own natural, halal collection that was completely ethical and eco-friendly.
In the Autumn of 2011, just before we reached our 1st birthday, we launched The PHB Collection- the worlds’ largest range of natural, halal and vegan beauty products. The collection includes, skincare, body care, hair care, cosmetics and men's and baby products also. Most of the collection is made by hand in the UK, and our packaging is 100% recyclable.
I am incredibly proud of the PHB collection and we have had some amazing reviews and feedback about the quality and efficacy of the products. We did a lot of research before finding a manufacturer that we were happy with and who could offer us what we needed with regards to the ingredients and ethical stance of the products. I didn't want to use any chemicals, parabens or petro chemicals which are common ingredients in many beauty products, mainly because they're cheap. We researched and selected ingredients that are gentle, natural and effective. For example rosewood, gardenia and rosehip have some fabulous anti-aging properties, so we use these in our Elixir of Youth range. Whilst ingredients like grape-seed, rose and aloe-vera are used in our Pure & Natural range for Very Sensitive skin because they’re incredibly kind to skin. Also it is important to me that none of our products or ingredients are ever tested on animals or contain any animal ingredients. The halal certification and vegan society registration serve to add extra assurances to my customers.
Since the release of the PHB collection we’ve been inundated with interest from around the world and had a number of exciting opportunities. We've had a lot of enquiries about potential distribution and franchise opportunities in the UK and Internationally - so this is something exciting that we are exploring. We hope to expand our number of store in the future also, as we are constantly getting calls from customers who can’t wait for us to open up shops in London, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford etc. So overall 2012 looks like being a very busy and exciting year for Pure Halal Beauty!