'women to watch' female founder interview:
nicole ayoub: founder + ceo of truly you
nicole ayoub, founder of truly you has been on our list of women to watch since the minute we met her [through another female founder, obvi. so on brand]. we were instantly impressed by her grace + business sense….and that’s before we found out she’s only 16. when we were 16, we were doing many things but starting a company definitely wasn’t one of them. nicole started her company at age 12 [same] and set out to solve a real problem.
truly you is a brand with a mission to free all you eczema sufferers (guilty) and sensitive skinners from the stress of finding products that work for you. read on to learn how this #girlboss solved the problem for you and how you can get ya hands on her products.
you started your company when you were just 12 (!!!). that alone makes you one of our women to watch, but you’re actually solving a real problem. talk to us about the inspiration behind the brand and how you teamed up with your mom to do this.
i started the company at a time in my life when my friends and i were first starting to get interested in makeup and skincare. the inspiration behind the company was the fact that, because of my eczema and extremely sensitive skin, i was not able to use the standard, name brand type skincare products. if i was to sample a product, say at bath and body works, i would get a massive skin reaction from all of the chemicals/fragrances used in the actual item. my company is based from 100% organic and natural ingredients so people, such as myself, can have and enjoy a body scrub for example without the consequences of a skin reaction.
in order to execute the startup of the company, i looked to my mom for guidance since she works full-time in business. she helped teach me about taxes, invoices, the difference between wholesale vs. retail, etc.
we know a little bit about how your operations started but tell us more about the behind the scenes of truly you. what does your day-to-day look like?
day-to-day, i work to grow the company’s influence: reaching out to potential retailers, expanding the company’s presence on social media, and go about general marketing activities. when i get an order from a customer or retailer, i hand make, package, and label those products fresh so they can last as long as possible. i refrain from making a giant batch and then storing those products until i get an order since the formulas to all of the products do not contain any preservatives.
it’s been two years since you started truly you. how has the brand evolved? what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as a business owner? what do you know now that you wish you knew when you started truly you?
over the years, i would say truly you’s presence in peoples’ lives has definitely grown. i feel like more people know the name truly you and the story behind the company and that is really all thanks to advertising, social media, and a lot of word-of-mouth! the number of products has also grown tremendously. when i first started out i only sold body scrubs and now i have been able to add 6+ more lines.
the most important lesson i have learned as a business owner is that you have to stay true to why you started the company in the first place. the story behind the company is the real selling point, especially in truly you’s case. without embracing the company’s story, you have no meaning behind the products you sell, there is nothing driving you or the business. as a result, i try to keep the true essence of truly you in the back of my mind at all times.
one thing that i know now that i wish i knew when i initially started truly you is that even though people may misjudge and underestimate you because of your age, there is no reason to let that get to you. believe it or not, when i first started i was a bit embarrassed because i thought people would laugh at my ambition and think of the company as another “lemonade stand” run by another “kid”. now, i use those thoughts as a way to drive me in order to show people that even though i am fairly young, i am still a legitimate entrepreneur.
what advice would you give to other young aspiring entrepreneurs and our other women to watch?
to other young, aspiring entrepreneurs, i would give them the same advice i said in the previous points—your company’s story is everything and do not let your personal fear of others have any effect on your ambition or drive to succeed in business.
what’s it like being a teenager and running a business? do any of your friends own their own businesses yet? how do you manage school, truly you, friends + family?
it is really cool being a teenage entrepreneur. no, none of my friends have their own company. in fact, i used to wish that i was sporty or artistic like a lot of them, but i have realized that my company is what sets me apart and makes me unique.
it does become difficult at times to balance truly you with other things in life, specifically school, but i find a way. sometimes i spend a saturday making products, but i make sure to fairly manage it all. sometimes my mom or my friends will come hang out with me while i am making products or we will facetime.
the first time i met you, we were at an event at luminary. how have you leveraged networks like luminary to help learn and grow your business?
well, i feel like this interview is a great example of how i have leveraged networks like luminary to help me learn and grow my business. it has allowed me to reach out to other startups, founded by women who are looking to network and make connections just as i am. those new relationships/connections can then lead to potential opportunities whether that means actual business or some version of marketing. in the midst of it all though, i am also just learning from the women i meet. the majority of them are older than me, and as a result it makes them mentors and bases of inspiration.
what’s the biggest challenge of your business? if there is someone reading this interview that could help you with that challenge, what would your ask be?
the biggest challenge of my business is growing it into other retailers and spanning truly you’s influence beyond my local market. this occurs mainly because i am a small business and i am a young entrepreneur. those two factors, i feel, have an effect on how people view truly you. they may see it as a bit less professional than other brands, in the end choosing not to bring truly you into their store. if somebody could help me with this challenge, i would ask them to help spread the word that truly you’s products are just as professional and effective as those, say for example, in sephora. these products are made by an entrepreneur who puts a lot of heart and effort into running her company, in turn, having an immense amount of dedication behind the products she sells.
we saw you just released face masks! we’re so excited to try them! any other products in the works you can share with us? or maybe, ‘dream’ products you’d like to eventually develop?
so far, i am mainly just focused on spreading the word about the newly released face masks and getting others to understand how unique and personable they are than the majority of other face masks out there. they come in a powder state and all you have to do is add a bit off water and then apply. with that though, consumers can add their own oils, serums, etc. that work for them personally, making the face masks extremely unique to the person using it. in the future though, i am hoping to expand the line of lip balms i have and maybe do some travel size versions of the most popular products.
our signature question… how’d you choose ‘truly you’ for the name?
when i was trying to find a name for the company, i knew that i wanted it to connect with each and every one of the customers on a personal level. to put it into context, it is true to you and who you are when you have sensitive skin and must adapt to that. it is truly who you are when you choose to refrain from using chemical based skincare products and live a healthier lifestyle starting with the things you put on your skin; in this case organic and natural skincare products. in essence, i wanted the name of the company to be true, hence “truly you”, to each and every person who uses truly you products. i wanted it to describe how everyone’s skin sensitivity or desire to maintain an organic/natural based skincare routine has a direct connection to them and who they are.
this interview makes me want to face mask reeaaalll bad. on that note…
*all product images, press images, and headshot images are property of nicole ayoub and truly you
**this is not a sponsored post. all obsessions are 100% real
all images are property of respective companies