While in her 30s, Reham Essa suffered from a particularly tough combination of skin problems: acne and aging at the same time. When she couldn’t find any products that would clear up trouble spots while also moisturizing fine lines, Essa, a trained pharmacist and cosmetic chemist, took to creating a line of products herself. The result is Radixir, which launched this past May. Today, the Ellicott City, Maryland-based entrepreneur is working full time on her budding business, motivated by the positive reviews she’s receiving from customers.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about why you started your business.
The impact of my acne stretched far beyond my face – my confidence plummeted and there was a period of time when I avoided taking pictures and couldn’t even look at my face in the mirror.
After months of experimenting and hundreds of lab tests, I created formulas that helped address my acne and didn’t over-dry my skin. Radixir is designed to deliver an at-home spa experience. We’re helping women to be confident in their own skin – and self-care, self-love and appreciation is a big part of that.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
Most of the products for acne-prone skin that are currently on the market are catering to younger skin, so we’re giving women with mature skin the right tools to address their breakouts without contributing to aging.
Our products have a potent mix of active ingredients and botanicals, and our natural formulations are housed in an eco-friendly packaging to minimize the impact on the environment.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
The testimonials I get from my customers. I look forward to bringing a positive change with our skincare formulas to many more people out there.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Finding ways to finance the business and scale it. However, it goes beyond the financials — running a business is time consuming and it always challenges you to optimize your processes, identify new opportunities and ensure that everything is moving forward in the right direction at the right time.
Being strategic about the use of my limited financial resources helped me a lot on my journey. Also, being honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses has been instrumental to my business. To save money and time, and fill in the gaps in my experience, I’ve made a decision to work with freelance experts who could help me propel the business forward and take on areas that were new or challenging to me.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
If you have a great idea, start taking steps to bring it to life as soon as possible. Don’t wait until everything is perfect because it will never be. Work on yourself and invest in a good team to support you.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Watching and listening to the success stories of other founders. I also find it helpful to create long- and short-term to-do lists. When I’m not motivated, I find the most exciting task on my long to-do list, and get it done. That gives me the sense of satisfaction and motivation to get other items on my list done.
What is your go-to song to get motivated?
On my most busy and stressful days, especially when I’m formulating, I like to listen to meditation music. Lately, I’ve been switching between meditation music and classical cello music. I’ve noticed that it helps me to calm down and focus.
Who is your most important role model?
My very favorite is Madam C.J. Walker. Despite all the hard times and challenges she faced throughout her journey she didn’t give up and she was able to reach her goals and bring value to others. ◼