Mind and Bodee is a natural supplements company focused on supporting wellness through food and gut health.
Nazia Begum never imagined she could have a business of her own. When she dared to dream of turning her beauty therapy knowledge into a makeup sales business, she started on a journey – although it was less smooth than she first imagined.
She recalled: “I decided I wanted a business at the age of 40, because I thought it was now or never. I naively thought that I would be able to start the business off with my own savings”
Very soon, Nazia realised she wasn’t fully prepared for all the potential costs of starting a business. She had chosen a product brand to distribute but explained: “As I started to do my research and get samples, I realised I would need a cash injection to get it started. To start up, I would need to buy 1000-2000 units up front to get them at a reasonable price – this was more than I had planned for.”
Her first step was her high street bank. She not only faced the issue of having no previous business history but realised that the language of finance and the detailed business information requests would be a challenge. She briefly considered a personal loan – but realised that these carried interest rates that would be far too expensive.
One good idea is enough
After a recommendation from one of Helen’s previous clients, Nazia got in touch with her. She was very pleased that she had. “When we reached out to Helen, she was absolutely fantastic. She talked us through our idea and vision and held our hand through the process.”
Nazia was delighted to find that Helen considered her a candidate for a Start Up Loan, with a viable business concept and a good credit history. It came as something of a surprise. “In my mind I was just a Mum of five and part time therapist who could probably never have a business of my own. After speaking to Helen, I realised you just need a good idea. And if you’ve got a good idea with the right support, you can actually become a businesswoman.”
Building proper foundations
Helen and Nazia began working together to improve the original business plan: “Helen helped rewrite my business plan in a language that the Start Up Loan company would understand and acknowledge – I couldn’t have done that on my own” she said.
Putting together a cashflow forecast was something about which Nazia had been particularly nervous. “The cashflow aspect was a minefield, but Helen walked us through it all. Because how do you know what to put in a cashflow forecast if you’ve never been in business? I didn’t know what numbers to put in, or the number of units to say that I could sell each day. It’s hard to know what to put in for a new business, and it is quite daunting.”
Helen handheld her through the process, ensuring that all the costs were considered – not just for inventory but for import duties, warehousing costs and customer post and packaging.
Within six weeks of the application, Nazia was delighted to receive approval for her Start Up Loan.
New concerns sowed seeds of change
The advent of COVID and the lockdowns that followed in April 2020 put things on hold as new concerns arose. Among these were Nazia’s husband’s health as a diabetic and asthmatic since both emerged as risk factors for COVID. Her response was to get proactive: “I became really interested in immunity. We helped boost my husband’s immune system with vitamins, minerals, and supplements. My kitchen cupboards were full of them! When he did get COVID he was able to recover quite easily.”
Nazia could also see that makeup wasn’t necessarily a smart market to get into at a time when people were wearing less of it than ever before. This, coupled with her new interest drove a change of direction. “I realised: I love this area of wellness. So instead of waiting until we could see what the economy was like after the pandemic, I would pivot the business and go into supplements.”
She realised the business model and plan created for the original business could easily pivot to one that focused on selling a natural supplement brand. Nazia did some further research, and by October 2020 had identified the brand ‘Love Your Gut’, bonding with an Australian influencer who was proving its success in that market. The die was cast, and she decided to bring it to the UK.
Facing the final hurdles as a family
All the business plans were still valid – but there were some extra costs to consider, such as meeting the requirements for UK food labelling standards and new marketing advice, branding and social setup, which took significant time.
The delays and additional costs were quickly absorbing the funds from the Start Up Loan. When Nazia asked Helen’s advice again, she learned that there could be additional loans for the company up to a total of £100,000 with the involvement of new directors.
Her adult daughters had already started to become involved and enthused about the business. So, armed with this new information the decision was made that Anisa and Anila would join as directors. Helen helped them build a clear case for additional Start Up Loan funding, which was granted.
Although the business has taken a little time to get off the starting blocks, Nazia believes Helen has played a pivotal role throughout the journey. When asked why, she said: “Helen is not just supportive, but empowering and empathic. She is knowledgeable and relatable, and always pushes your business not her own.”
She continued: “Helen understands that business finance can be scary, especially if it’s new – and that people with aspirations don’t always know business. So, she is always asking what you need, and where you are on your own journey, educating and helping you all the way.”
Mind and Bodee has now become a truly family business. Today, the products are in stock and ready to roll out into the UK market. It has a family management team on a mission to help improve the UK’s gut health through natural supplements and healthy living. Nazia is sure they have a good opportunity: “People who want to get healthier, even if they are diagnosed with illness, always have a choice – they can help themselves, improve their gut health, and have many options they can explore. Mind and Bodee plans to help them.”