Today, we are highlighting Kyra Young of Kyra’s Shea Medleys! With wonderful products that can be used on your skin AND hair, her products have you covered from head to toe. Organic, cruelty free, and vegan. What more can you ask for? Oh, superb customer service is standard with this business, so you’re taken care of on all fronts. Also, they give back to the community in a BIG way! For every purchase made, products are donated to local nonprofits, homeless shelters, charities, and clinics in America. That’s major! I have no doubt that you will be a fan of Kyra and her products very soon.
1. How did you get your start? What prompted you to start this business?
I started making my Original Butter Cream as an undergraduate student at UCLA. The beauty supplies in the surrounding area did not have a diverse selection of products for my curls. I can never forget the day I was offered “gel or mousse” after I clearly asked the store representative for a moisturizer for my hair. I decided to do some research and create my own Medley (aka mixture), and both my hair and sensitive skin loved it. I had no intent to turn it into a business, but with the support and encouragement of my family and friends, in particularly from my boyfriend and business partner, John Moore, I decided to give it go. On September 29th, 2013, Kyra’s Shea Medleys was officially born.
2. How did you stay motivated during the beginning stages of the business building process?
Pure determination and dwindling faith. I say “dwindling” because it was so hard starting a business with no business background, no mentors, no substantial funds, and no resources nor a clue where we could get them. We were both still working full-time jobs at the time, too. I had no idea of the real potential behind it, but I knew me and my will to work as hard as I can in an effort not to fail. God gave us some huge blessings though. We were featured on Good Morning America a couple of days after our 1-year business anniversary and the following year we were accepted to place our products in 25 Target stores in Los Angeles.
3. How do you keep going and persevere through the hard days with your business?
Faith. Looks like that is going to be the theme here. John always makes us stop and envision whatever it is we want, then pray on it. It’s like that quote from Paulo Coelho, the author of “The Alchemist”, that says “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” You have to first believe. Yes, there are going to be days when you feel like quitting. You may curse yourself because you made a rookie, but costly mistake. To be real, there are going to be days that you fail…it’s inevitable. But have faith. Evaluate where you are in your company and be realistic with yourself. Can it be fixed? Can you take another path? Do you want to keep going? It takes faith and grit to say “Yes” and it takes faith and grit to say “No” if you know you gave it your best, but cannot go on any longer.
4. What do you find most enjoyable about running your business? What are you still struggling with?
I love creating. My Mama was a cake decorator and my Granny had huge vegetable, fruit, and rose gardens, so I was used to working with my hands. Even better, I love creating something that actually works and helps the people that use it. I enjoy speaking with my customers. I love giving back to local nonprofits and community campaigns (we started doing that before we even made a sale). I also love sharing what I learned to the next eager entrepreneur. Because I didn’t have those role models growing up, it’s kind of cool to be one.
The entrepreneur struggle is real when you are starting from the bottom, from ground-zero. We somehow met our break even point this past year so we are actually seeing a profit, but for the longest, we tried to nickel and dime our way up. If you can, DON’T DO THAT! Get your numbers right first. With the intention of trying to save money, I also tried to do everything myself, including our business taxes. DON’T DO THAT! Get an accountant because they will not make mistakes that end up costing you more in the end. I’ve also struggled with lifestyle changes as I could not hang out with my friends as much as I used to and I am honestly still horrible (well, better than I used to be) at balancing work and personal life. When your business partner has always been your boyfriend first, it can be challenging. LOL. But no more talk of struggles. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “We gon’ be alright!”
5. Did you see a gap in the industry that prompted you to pursue this business idea?
I began making my Butters in 2009, but again, as a full-time college student, starting a business was not on my mind. I was just trying to fulfill my own hair and skin care needs. Had I known, I would have started it back then. I think the DIY movement started to take off full throttle in 2013 and by this past year, my market became extremely over saturated. We still stand by our multipurpose (for hair and skin), vegan, cruelty-free, and all-natural products, but we are starting to see more similar products come out of the woodworks from smaller companies. Even bigger companies that are already in the big name brands stores are trying to cater to our target market by adding Shea Butter and other natural ingredients to their products when they never did before. We have a plan though and have faith we will expand.
6. Biggest accomplishment to date?
You may think our biggest accomplishment was GMA, Mashable, or Target, but for me, it was hitting our break even point. There were so many times that I thought we would have to shut down business because of money issues. Due to not knowing our numbers, we had sold ourselves short and were not really making a profit. This happens a lot with small businesses. We had been putting out high-quality products with the best ingredients, going hard to maintain our 110% customer service rating, and going above and beyond to make our brand look good on a penny budget, because that is what we were selling our products for…pennies. I was scared to raise our prices, but when I decided to do so because we had no choice, I was shocked that no one complained and we even got more new customers. I am just grateful. This accomplishment may not technically be the biggest, but it personally meant the most to me.
7. Most not so savory business blunder What lesson did you learn?
Doing my business taxes by myself instead of getting an accountant. It ended up costing me more to get my taxes fixed than it would have had a professional done them right in the first place. Lesson: I am not an accountant and I should not try to do their job.
8. How do you hope your company will help impact the community?
From the very beginning, we have made it our mission to give back. We started with homeless shelters and clinics, then we asked our customers what causes they support. To date, we have donated over 4,500 jars to nonprofit organizations that empower women, fight breast cancer, seek to end homelessness, uplift youth leadership and development, and soon, we will be giving back to burn victims as well through our KSM Gives Back program. We see ourselves as social entrepreneurs as we try to give back to people, the planet, and make a profit at the same time. All-in-all, we aim for our products to help women embrace their natural curls and love the skin they are in. We are still in a time where skin-bleaching products are on the rise, so this message is important.
9. Advice for new, aspiring and struggling business owners.
1) Do your homework.
2) Know your market.
3) Give nothing less than EXCELLENT customer service.
4) Have faith and grit.
5) Have fun!
6) Remember to take time for yourself
7) Always celebrate the small victories.
Bonus: YOU GOT THIS!!!
10. Tips for putting your business out there and overcoming fear.
I will tell you what they told me, “JUST DO IT”. It doesn’t have to be perfect as that will come with time and experience. Our first logo was drawn on black construction paper and cropped in Windows Paint. Our first jars had paper labels that bled as soon as water touched them. We learned and we fixed these things as we went on. Besides, there is so much information on the internet and YouTube right now that you have no excuse. Fear is an excuse. My friend, Liana Sims, author of “Monday Never Comes”, says that “Courage is the decision to move forward in the face of fear.” In fact, every person scared to move forward with anything in their life needs to read that book
11. Where do you see your business in 2018? And beyond?
I want to see our products being distributed across the United Kingdom by the end of 2018. Beyond? The world.
12. Shamelessly promote yourself! Tell us why we shouldn’t go another day without your products.
Kyra’s Shea Medleys is about empowering women to embrace their natural curls and love their skin. Using certified organic and natural ingredients, we handcraft multipurpose (for BOTH hair and skin), vegan, and cruelty-free beauty care. We only provide high-quality products that work and excellent service because our customers deserve nothing less. And to top it all off, every purchase is a purpose toward the support of local nonprofits and community campaigns chosen by our customers. Simply put, we love what we do and you will feel that love in every jar!
IG, TW, FB: @kyrasheamedleys
Now is that doesn’t light a fire under your butt, there is something wrong! I’m motivated all over again. What an inspiring story and encouraging words. If you want to try out Kyra’s fabulous products, use code “hellopanda” for 10% off your purchase or click here! Let’s support each other and look great doing it!
ps. Leave a comment below with what product you think you will purchase. If you’re like me, you are going to need the bundle. I must have them all!