Company: Aviela Skincare Limited – www.aviela.co.uk
Key Industry: Health & Beauty
Aviela was started in 2007 by Founding Director Patricia Monney.
At almost two years old, Patricia’s daughter, Charissa, was still not walking, and due to a problem with her left ankle was facing surgery. However, a bone specialist visited in Ghana during a holiday with her family, suggested massaging her ankle with Shea butter twice a day and after 2 weeks he would determine whether an operation was necessary. Ironically, Shea butter had always been a favourite of Patricia’s Mum!
Incredibly, after just three days, Charissa was on her feet trying to walk. By the fourth, she was walking without aid. The Specialist explained that the cartilage in her ankle had been very stiff, but the anti-stiffening agent in the unrefined Shea butter helped induce some softness into her cartilage which helped her to stand on her feet comfortably, allowing her to walk.
Through her subsequent research, Patricia discovered that Shea butter had many more unique benefits and Aviela was born.
Aviela is a natural beauty brand that creates and distributes natural skincare products made with high concentration unrefined Shea butter to help relieve severe dry skin and other dry skin conditions and to help people manage these skin conditions going forward. The products are made with pure plant oils blended using traditional African methods.
Patricia originally started making products in her kitchen, selling to family and friends.
About two years ago she landed an opportunity to retail her products in a high street retail shop (Wholefoods Market). Although they took her products on, they also advised Patricia that if she wanted to get into more retail shops, then she would have to look at her branding and packaging to bring it up to market standard.
In the process of doing so, she also decided to reformulate her products to ensure they were totally 100% natural and that the packaging was sustainable. Lacking in finance, Patricia wasn’t sure where to turn for help.
After some research on how to raise finance to help the business, Patricia came across the Dacorum’s Den through a Dacorum business adviser and after inquiring more about it, the process and how simple it was, she decided to apply.
She initially submitted her first application which included her business plan and answering some questions. Patricia already had a business plan and most of the answers and requirements were things that she’d already included.
She then received an email to say she had been chosen to go through to the next stage which was presenting her business and the business case of why she needed the grant – this was to a judging panel made up of local business leaders and counsellors and the MP of Hemel Hempstead. She enjoyed the process and it was the first time she’d had to present her business case in front of a group of people who could see the potential of her idea.
Patricia had tried before for a couple of grants where they asked for a video application which she found quite challenging because of not knowing who the audience would be and the lack of feedback.
“I was very excited when I received the phone call to say I had won the grant and on top of that the judges had decided to give me an extra £500. I knew then I was going to be able to realise my dream.”
Having won the grant and been awarded the cash, Patricia has been able to use the money to move her business to the next level. As a direct result of winning the grant, Patricia has finished reformulation of each product which are now in the lab undergoing product safety testing.
Patricia also received an endorsement for her products from Victoria Beckham! She hopes that when she finally releases the newly-reformulated products, they will be much improved, and the endorsement will help raise greater awareness.
“The Dacorum’s Den is one of the most brilliant any council can offer to businesses in its locality and we should support it because without it, I could never have completed my formulation and product testing. I will definitely encourage any small business in Dacorum, looking for financial support to try the Dacorum’s Den.
“I think the most positive aspect is learning how to talk about your business to ‘potential investors’ who end up believing that your business is important and can make a difference and they are willing to ‘invest’ in it.”