Zoe Bee Beauty is a natural, cruelty-free and vegan skincare brand that offers a wide range of products for men, women and children. I had the chance to chat with the founder Zoe Johnson about her increasingly popular brand, the inspiration behind her business venture and running a demanding business in the midst of a global pandemic.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. What are three words that best describe you?
I’m a maker at heart. I’ve always loved to create, and help people. I’ve also always been animal mad. Looking back now, it’s not surprising that I’ve created a skincare company that helps to build people’s self-confidence and also supports an animal charity. I think it shocked quite a few people how much my business has grown. I’ve always been shy and quiet. Always struggled with anxiety, but here I am shouting loud and proud about how we all need to take time out for ourselves. In short, the three words that best describe me are caring, ambitious and determined.
Q: How do you define beauty?
In this social media world, quite a number of us edit our pictures because we believe the person in our photo isn’t good enough. The magic of my creams is they help to heal and beautify skin. We have so many people send their unfiltered #makeupfreewithzoebee photos and it’s so wonderful to see. I believe taking time out for self-care is very important. Whether it’s just an hour a week, run a bubble bath with nourishing oils, apply a face mask, or smother your skin with a silky butter. Beauty is about confidence. When we learn to love who we see in the mirror, we automatically radiate a beautiful glow.
Q: What inspired you to start your own beauty brand?
My desire to help people is what spurred me to begin an adventure that started as a Facebook advice page that later metamorphosized into a brand. I was initially advising people how to make their own creams, alongside other recipes. But because people kept asking me to just make it for them, it gave me some confidence to give it a go. It’s definitely not been overnight, this all began in 2013. While many people may have given up, I’ve stuck with it as it’s my genuine passion. I always say, if you can turn your hobby into a career you will honestly thrive. Being excited to work every day is the best feeling.
Q: What was the first formula you ever created and how did it go?
When I first started playing around with butters, it was because I wanted to soothe my sore psoriasis. My first ever creation was absolutely terrible haha. It was rock solid and was hard work to use, but it melted once massaged into the skin. I also found my skin loved it. It wasn’t irritated and I could see my skin slowly healing. It took a good few years of practising. My first official creation was my charcoal and oat cream. I figured that the healing powers of oat and the way charcoal draws out toxins, the power of those ingredients would be incredible. I found that by using ingredients from their direct source that is shea butter from Ghana and not using any heat, we can have such incredible high-quality nutrients to heal skin.
Q: In the past months, many businesses have struggled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what was it like managing and keeping your business afloat during the lockdown?
It’s definitely not been easy. The first obstacle was that my two youngest children age 3 and 5 were off school and nursery. The next hurdle was orders were coming in so fast we could hardly keep up. The before and after photos of people’s skin were coming in daily, and everyone was trying to order. We had to shut down the shop and allow a certain amount of orders per week to be able to keep up. The biggest worry for me was, I felt like I was letting my customers down.
A lot of people have been upset they haven’t been able to order easily. We sell out in 3 minutes and I understand how frustrating that must be. But during the lockdown, I hired my best friend Kim to help me manage messages, and my husband and I have worked as a team to keep things flowing. We are so lucky to have been so busy where I have seen so many others struggle.
Q: I heard on the grapevine that you can sell up to 1000 products in five minutes! Is this true? If yes, how do you achieve this and why do you think your products are in such high demand?
It’s absolutely crazy isn’t it? We really have to structure our week. So day one my husband and I will be labelling jars, day two making scrubs, day three making creams, day four making creams, day five packing, day six packing, day seven packing and then repeat.
If we miss one day we do get really behind. It’s non stop. The only reason we keep going is because we are having a blast. Our customers are wonderful, all their reviews, before and after photos and shout outs have helped us to grow and I’m so grateful to all of them. I think it’s much better coming from other people how great your products are, rather than me telling everyone to come and buy from me. I let my customers see the person behind the brand. They see my family, they see how hard I work and I think its because it’s not a faceless brand and they are eager to help me grow.
Q:What is a recent proud achievement you would like to share?
I recently won a fashion and beauty entrepreneur of the year award which was a huge shock and completely unexpected. But it was so rewarding for all the hard work.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I worked many years in a job that I didn’t enjoy. I’d often stare at the clock wishing the hours away. Someone once told me that if you turn your hobby into your career then you won’t ever feel like you are working. That is so true and funny enough, it now feels like there isn’t enough hours in the day. I check the clock, and wish it would go back a few hours haha. When there is that fire in you, the world really is your oyster. I’m a big believer in the law of attraction. Since I’ve been much happier in myself and my career, things just keep getting better.
Q:What can we expect to see from Zoe Bee in the next few years?
I’m currently working with an incredible women foundation over in Ghana. There is no middle man, and the women preparing our shea earn all the money for themselves. I admire their hard work so much. I plan to fly out and visit them when it’s safe to do so, and show them some before and after photos from my customers.
It will be so lovely to show them how many people they have helped through their hard work. I want to hopefully show everyone the hard work and the process that goes into creating shea butter. I also want to continue helping more charities. And of course, as our lab is currently being prepared we can free up more time for me to create. Hopefully this will mean new products coming soon. We have a new look for our jars coming in December, which I’m so excited about. Hopefully lots of exciting things to come. Watch this space.