Why I set up my beauty box business during lockdown

Sandra Burley, 39, lives in Wadhurst, Sussex. She set-up her business Self Care Sundays during the 2020 lockdown.  

Founder of the Self Care Sundays beauty box

I started working on the Self Care Sundays beauty box three years ago but found it too challenging trying to get it up and running in just a few hours a day. During lockdown, I’ve been able to fully commit and give it all my time and love.

For the last three years I’ve been curating a list of all of the clean and organic British beauty brands I think are the right fit, researching what I love about other subscription boxes, what I would change and refining the concept.<

Four months ago I decided the timing was right as we all could use some gorgeous self-care straight to our door these days.

Read more: How I launched a business during lockdown

Why I started a self-care beauty box

When I had my second child four years ago I really struggled with how to take care of myself. I lost myself in a whirlwind of caring for a baby, a toddler, and working, with no concept of how I could practice self-care in addition to all that. When I did manage to grab 20 minutes for myself I’d flail about thinking I should be doing something relaxing or something productive, and managing neither. I just wanted someone to hand me a box and say: “Here, take this, it’s everything you want to do beauty-wise but never ever make the time for. It’s all super relaxing.”

I ordered loads of beauty boxes and didn’t find one which fitted what I was looking for. So I was determined as soon as I could that I would create it.

My background

I started out in marketing in London, then worked as a writer for different ad agencies in Australia and Canada.

I did my Masters degree in the Netherlands and then worked as the director of marketing as well as the spa director for a large dermatology practice in DC. Then I moved to a magazine in DC where I worked as the sales and marketing director.

My mother is a dermatologist and I have always been drawn to helping people feel good about themselves.

Curating the box

I’m mixing it up depending on the season, but I’m hoping to include plenty of nourishing hair masks and a face scrubs in the curations. The other products will be exfoliating body scrubs, hand and foot treatments, overnight serums and masks, heavenly bath and body oils and whipped body souffles.

Everything that is included needs to tick off a deep clean beauty to-do, something that we normally don’t get around to doing. I have had a lot of requests for candles to be included in upcoming boxes, so I’m thinking about whether to add that as part of the experience.

Picking the products

I test every product as a full-size and use it over a period of time to make sure that it doesn’t just look pretty or smell lovely, but actually works. I’ve discarded so many products from the running after trying them out, as they did absolutely nothing for me.

I really make sure the products work. Not just that, I make sure they all work together, in a cohesive self-care session. So it takes a really long time to pull together a curation. Which let’s be honest, is the fun part. It changes with every box so you can imagine I have quite a lot of spa sessions!

My process for vetting a brand is huge. First I read through everything I can about them, and make sure that their ingredient lists for their products contain only the good things. Then I look into their philosophies about clean beauty, the environment, and how they run themselves as a brand. I like the idea of really supporting British brands and cutting down on air miles for products, so it really matters to me that many of the products are made by British brands.

Overcoming challenges

It’s a real challenge starting a business. The biggest one is the fear of failure. It’s hard to tell everyone you know you’re starting a business, and then have the pressure of making it a success. You don’t want to look like a failure if it doesn’t work. What I decided though was that it’s a failure not to start in the first place. It’s a failure to have regrets.

I really hope the Self Care Sundays box has a long and happy run, but if it doesn’t all go as planned it’s okay. I’ll start something else, and be really happy that I got it off the ground in the first place. It’s brave to be scared and do something anyway, and being brave was the biggest challenge in starting this.

My advice if you want to start a business

Don’t overthink it. Obviously, make a solid plan, do your research, bounce ideas off people you respect and take their advice when it makes sense, but don’t be in planning mode forever. At some point, you have to jump in.

You can’t learn everything ahead of time. You have to be flexible along the way, ready to pivot if you need, and trust yourself.

What I’d tell my younger self…

Be confident that you, exactly as you are, are amazing. There is no need to try to be like anyone else because that isn’t what you’ll want for yourself when you’re older. Your interests, strengths, flaws, all of that make you, you. If someone doesn’t love that, a friend, a romantic relationship, that’s okay. Don’t change yourself to be with them, be all of you all of the time, and then you’ll only surround yourself with people who love you just as you are. That’s the way to true happiness.

To find out more about the Self Care Sundays beauty box, visit: www.selfcaresundaysbox.com

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