Growth & Jobs | Young entrepreneur turns hobby into holisic hair and skincare business
Forged from necessity, Shevielle Naturals was created by Candace Gordon as a solution to her need for holistic personal care products.
The 24-year-old said that the idea for the company came while she was still a student at Wolmer’s High School for Girls.
“I was going on a natural journey myself, where I became a vegetarian. I started looking for natural ways to take care of my hair and my skin,” said the Old Harbour, St Catherine native.
Her sister was also into haircare products. “She was more into the aesthetics of things, like how she combed her hair. She told me she found something online that we could use to do our hair. I saw this as an opportunity to start a business,” Gordon recalled.
As she moved on from high school to The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, she not only earned a degree in marketing and management studies, but also valuable experience that strengthened her business acumen.
She also has a master’s in integrated marketing communications.
“I joined the Guild entrepreneurship competition and met some people who introduced me to YouTube. I really honed in on YouTube and other experiences and kind of combined that with my own natural journey experience. That’s how Shevielle came about,” she said.
The holistic hair and skincare company was born in 2016 and has since grown to provide a range of products, to include castor oil, turmeric and rosemary bar soap, honey cinnamon soap, herbal butter, coco lemon oil, mango charcoal soap, coconut oil, fenugreek and oats moisturiser, herbal aloe shampoo, and herbal and oats conditioner.
The items are available online and through various natural health stores and retail outlets, including at Devon House.
Gordon, who was among exhibitors at ‘Christmas in July’ this year, is proud of the company which has a dedicated clientele and also offers skin and haircare, nutrition and exercise tips.
It is hard to believe that the meticulous businesswoman, who places strong focus on customer service and marketing, only started to take the business seriously about two years ago.
She said that initially, she saw Shevielle as something she loved to do rather than a moneymaking venture, and it was in 2020-2021 that she really started to position the business from being a hobby or side hustle “to really believing it can be a real source of income”.
At that time, Jamaica was dealing with COVID-19, and given the reality of the virus, which limited face-to-face contact, Gordon knew she would have to make some changes to the business model in order to survive.
“I used to be on campus telling people about my business, but COVID-19 caused me to stop all that, stopping all of my income. I had to go back to the drawing board,” she said.
“I spent a lot of time creating standard operating procedures for my business. The pandemic proved good in terms of slowing me down to sort out the structural part of the business, but it also forced me to think of new ways to get people to know about it,” she pointed out.
One of the new ways to promote her company was through the creation of virtual Shevielle Events.
“We provide holistic hair and skincare, meaning that we not only provide the products, but also lifestyle and nutrition tips to improve the hair and skin. I started these online webinars and livestreams to get people to know more about us, to position us as a health and wellness brand. What this did was to create leads,” she said.
“Before, we would only get new leads from a flier or being at an event, so that kind of changed how Shevielle started to get new leads or sales,” she added.
Gordon’s sparkling enthusiasm and dogged spirit have helped her overcome some challenges on her business journey, including lack of support from persons, who, she said, felt that “I could have done better with my life”.
“It became extremely difficult since 2021, when I transitioned from being a student to working. The support is somewhat there, but it is not as much as it was before,” she said.
Another obstacle is how potential lenders view her because of her youth.
“It is easy for you to be overlooked in the space. Maybe, because you are young, they don’t think you are serious about what you are doing. Just by how I look alone, I could feel them going, ‘Oh, she is cute, she is here, that’s nice, well done; but we are not lending you money of any significant value, because you need some time’,” she said.
“I do understand that with young people it’s risky, but you may find a young person who is just as qualified with a well-prepared presentation, plans and everything,” she expressed.
Gordon’s advice for other young people looking to start a business is is to get some formal training.
She shared that despite the natural entrepreneurial spirit of many Jamaicans, without a formal approach their dreams may not be realised.
“I have been in the entrepreneurial space since high school, and back then, I never really knew as much. When I went to UWI, there were competitions and opportunities for people 30 and under. You find a lot of young people who don’t get to the stage of tertiary learning and they start hustling.
“But because they don’t know how to work smarter, sometimes, their ventures don’t work out, or they get into jobs that aren’t fulfilling,” she said.
Gordon is proud of the health and wellness company, of which she is the sole founder, and said she wants to make Shevielle “a movement”.
She is guided by her favourite Bible verse, Philippians 4:13, which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“I believe that with God, all things are possible. Regardless of the setback, keep going, keep being consistent and eventually it will work. But don’t let the circumstances hinder you; allow them to encourage you,” she said.
Gordon is currently working to provide products, services and community support for persons to improve their hair and skin “from the inside out”.
“We want to empower persons to better control their diet and health, as well as to even use natural products to improve their hair and skin holistically. We are not just trying to stay in the manufacturing sector or just making products; our aim is to marry cosmetics with health and wellness in terms of the products and services we provide,” she said.
For details on the products and services, visit the company’s Instagram page @shevielle on Instagram and Facebook, and @Shevielle Naturals on YouTube.
Persons can also email email@example.com.