Beauty entrepreneur, Kadian Pow is the mastermind behind Bourn Beautiful Naturals. The charismatic PhD researcher and lecturer created the brand to solve her own personal hair care challenges and started to delve deeper into health and wellness issues. An idea that was initially started to help herself evolved into a sensational brand that is today Bourn Beautiful Naturals. We discuss the rise of vegan products in the beauty industry and her journey of becoming an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to create Bourn Beautiful Naturals?
The inspiration behind the products and the brand are two separate things. The products came first and I had to be convinced to start the brand. My hair dries out and gets tangled easily. I was searching for the perfect conditioner to reduce my detangling sessions. I was inspired to create my own conditioner (what became Avocado Smoothie Conditioner) after watching someone on YouTube make a basic conditioner using a few ingredients and a microwave. I was shocked! I began researching the science behind this and fell down a cosmetic chemistry rabbit hole. Once I solved the conditioner issue, I began systematically trying to create products to solve my other challenges.
I love solving my own health and wellness issues because it makes me feel empowered. The journey to the solution is itself satisfying to me. After a year or so, I started giving some of these as gifts to friends and family. Soon they began asking me to make things to solve their hair and skin challenges! They responded really well to the products I gave them. One friend in particular offered me money for my products and encouraged me to start selling them. I had to work on my own confidence first before I decided that I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t try. Thus, began Bourn Beautiful Naturals.
After a year or so, I started giving some of these as gifts to friends and family. Soon they began asking me to make things to solve their hair and skin challenges
I love to be near water – I find it a calming force in my life. And because water is so important to healthy hair and skin, I named the brand after a small brook in the town where I live – the Bourn Brook in Bournville, a suburb of Birmingham. It works well as a double entendre because we are all born beautiful in our natural state. I wanted to send that message particularly to Black women like me with natural afro textured hair.
What is your career background and how has it shaped your brand?
My career background is in museum education, public speaking and now academia, particularly Black, feminist and anthropology studies. Formulating products on paper is a bit like formulating an academic theory, but then you have to test it to see if works in real life. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m interested in real life solutions. I think the jobs I’ve held on the way to a career have more of an impact on my brand. I’ve had a lot of customer-facing jobs, so the customer’s perception and experience of our brand is prioritised.
Can you tell me a bit about the products and what distinguishes you from other natural Hair & Skin products at the moment?
All of our products are solutions to real problems that existed for me, or people I knew. If I don’t believe in it, I don’t create it. Our skincare is particularly focused on sensitive skin needs, so some of our products are available without fragrance or essential oils (which, though natural, can be problematic for sensitive skin). We’re also a brand that believes you can have safe, plant-based, reasonably priced, effective hair and skin products that are also fun to use on yourself and your children. Not everyone wants to smell like essential oils. And everyone can’t afford a luxury brand. We’re not trying to go to the super stripped back, botanical route. There are plenty of great brands already taking up that challenge.
We have seen a rise of Vegan beauty products in the industry, why do you think this is and what are the benefits?
The shift to emphasising ‘vegan’ in the beauty industry is part of the overall rise in concerns about health and nutrition–the focus on locally sourced, non-GMO, organic, etc. It makes sense that consumers would extend the concern about what they put in their bodies to what they put on their bodies as well. Some of these products can enter our pores and our blood stream. Vegan ingredients have the benefit of being cruelty-free, and you don’t have to be concerned with consuming in animal-derived ingredients some of the harmful antibiotics that are used on some animals.
Even vegan products could harmful for those with sensitivities and allergies. Keep reading the ingredient labels to make sure the product is right for you.
I do take caution that the term ‘vegan’ is now being used as a convenient marketing term, for customers to assume the product is ‘natural’, safe or good for them. Many synthetic ingredients are vegan, and some ‘natural’ and vegan products could harmful for those with sensitivities and allergies. Keep reading the ingredient labels to make sure the product is right for you. ‘Vegan’ isn’t a fool-proof shortcut for ‘good’.
Describe a typical day for you in the world of Bourn Beautiful Naturals
Most days I am balancing work (for now) and home life right alongside running Bourn Beautiful Naturals. My days usually consist of fulfilling orders, answering emails, doing inventory on ingredients and products, ordering, interacting on social media (IG in particular), making products, and making short-term and long-term plans for our future.
What has been your biggest achievement during this journey and what is the greatest risk you have taken?
I should list some kind of accolade, or big influencer shout-out here, but I honestly feel that my biggest achievement and greatest risk are the same: It is having started this brand in 2017 with no business experience, no loan or investment, working and studying full time, and no clue where this would take me. I could have quit so many times when I got intimidated or hit a stumbling block. So, my biggest achievement is still being here and having grown each year. I just wanted to contribute something good to the world that I believed in, and I’m grateful that people have responded.
What advice would you give a budding Beauty entrepreneur?
I would say make sure you are really convicted about your product because your belief in yourself and what you’ve got to offer are going to help push you through those hard times when it seems like nothing is going right.
Where do you see the brand in the next five years?
In the next five years, we will make the switch to sustainable packaging (this is a big goal for me). I also see BBN in stores in Britain, USA and Europe. I also see 2-3 new products in that time.
Lastly describe Bourn Beautiful naturals in three words