LAST summer, Chaymae Samir moved to England for a fresh start – with no job or plan for her life here.
The 25-year-old, who lives in Surrey, used just £25 spare cash to launch her beauty blender business – which made a huge £160,000 in its first six months.
The £8 Sunday Ivy blenders absorb up to 70 per cent less foundation – because of their unique microfibre design – and boast an ‘airbrush finish’ make-up artists love.
Chaymae, who’s originally from Casablanca, Morocco, started the company from the living room in her rented home and regularly works 18-hour days to get her orders out.
She spoke exclusively to Fabulous Digital for #BOSSINGIT, our series about ordinary women who have launched incredible businesses.
Chaymae said: “When I moved, I noticed how many people were really into make-up here, especially younger girls.
“I wanted to create a company between beauty and fast fashion, which would be popular on Instagram.
“The beauty and cosmetics market is huge, but ‘fast beauty’ is a relatively small category with just a few competitors, mainly based in the US.
“A normal beauty company takes two years to come up with a product, we can do it in less than 40 days.
It was crazy how the business took off. That’s when I thought ‘I have something here’
“I wanted to take a boring product and add something new. This is how the brand was born. I started and website and learned from there.
“I only invested £25, which was the price of the domain name and a £4 Facebook ad. I had a free trial on Shopify, I started making money before I actually held stock.
“I emailed my first customers and said ‘it’s going to take a bit longer for us to provide you with the products, are you happy to wait?’
“Just two people out of 1,000 products sold asked for a refund. That’s how the entire thing was financed and how we started.”
Chaymae received her first sale the day after launching and was left reeling by the Christmas rush.
She said: “It was quite overwhelming because I wasn’t expecting to be dealing with that many orders over Christmas time.
“My family were visiting as well. I started the business from my living room, my neighbour was constantly asking what I was up to.
We’ve not paid any bloggers to promote our products, which for a beauty brand can sound like a death sentence
“It was crazy how the business took off. That’s when I thought ‘I have something here’.
“We sold 20,000 units, making £160,000, in the first six months.
“Now I rent a small warehouse space in Berkshire. I named the business after Sundays because they’re fun, as I want the brand to be.”
Superwoman Gal Gadot’s make-up artist is a fan of the beauty blenders, which are now available on Feelunique – and will be stocked in Boohoo and Urban Outfitters from the autumn.
Distributors have also approached Chaymae about shipping to places like Eastern Europe and Israel, meaning the product should be in 600 stores by the end of the year.
She said: “We attract a lot of make-up artists because they love that ‘airbrush finish’, that’s often mentioned in our reviews.
At this point, I don’t even know the difference between a Monday and a Sunday, I’m working 18-hour days
“We’ve not paid any bloggers to promote our products, which for a beauty brand can sound like a death sentence, but I honestly believe the blenders speak for themselves.
“We’ve had some really influential influencers, who have up to a million followers, order the products and share them on social media.
“People are dropping their usual beauty blender by much bigger names for my brand.
“The retailers are reaching out to us, which was important for us to grow.”
But it’s not been plain sailing for the entrepreneur – who’s working seven days-a-week to keep up with demand.
She admitted: “At this point, I don’t even know the difference between a Monday and a Sunday.
“With it growing so fast, you have to keep up with it. I work all day, up to 18 hours-a-day.
“I normally work from 6.30am to midnight. It sounds tiring but I find it really exciting.
“We’re expanding at the moment. I’ve got one person doing branding and we’re getting four interns in, as well as two people for customer service.”
Chaymae's advice to wannabe business women
I’d tell other women to just start and not overthink it.
It’s hard because as women we do constantly question things, and worry about people think.
But it doesn’t have to be the perfect version the first time.
It’s just about getting the demand and then working on the business.
Chaymae, who has a BA in economics and a Masters in finance, previously worked for the UN in Geneva, a hedge fund in New York and started two businesses in her native Morocco.
She said: “My first business a tutoring centre in southern Morocco, because there was nothing like that there.
“Then I started a juice bar, then sold everything and moved to England.”
But despite her impressive experience, running Sunday Ivy has not been without its challenges.
Chaymae said: “We constantly have hiccups. Starting and managing a business is always very challenging, but I’m not doing it for a smooth ride.
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“The biggest challenge for me was being a foreigner, I couldn’t get a business account for three months, then PayPal blocked my personal account for a month.
“For a new business, cash flow is really important. I’m not allowed a credit card or a £200 overdraft or anything. All the growth has been from sales.”
We previously spoke to another beauty entrepreneur who grew up with a single mum on benefits, now she runs a nail business Serena Williams loves and has an MBE.