In this week’s entrepreneur empowerment interview, we talk to sustainable sports skincare founder, Moira Newiss, who launched Skirr Skin this year, shortly before the UK entered lockdown.
Moira shares her entrepreneurial experiences on taking financial risks, asking for help when you get stuck, the importance of looking after yourself and taking time to celebrate milestones.
Take it away Moira…
A Bit About the Founder, Moira Newiss
I like to get out on my bike for a cycle along the lochside, preferably in the sunshine. Another favourite hobby of mine is to head down to my local beach for a swim in the sea.
About the Business, Skirr Skin
Setting our sights on sustainable sports skincare, our eco-friendly anti-chafing sports body balm is our flagship product. We also have an anti-bacterial soap in our collection.
Currently, we have an antifungal foot balm and a chamois cream in the production pipeline. With the ongoing pandemic further highlighting the importance of safety and hygiene in skincare, we are also looking at full-recyclable and minimal-contact pump systems.
We are passionate about sustainability. Our anti-chafing sports body balm is made from recycled cardboard and is fully recyclable at home. Its anti-bacterial soap is packaged in vegware compostable paper which can safely be disposed of in a home compost or food waste collection.
Why did you set Skirr Skin up? What were you looking to do both on an entrepreneurial and personal level with running your own business?
I have always wanted to run my own business, and my interests in cosmetics, sports and nature came together to inspire a sustainable sports skincare brand. I want to change the mindset in sport towards using natural and organic products. My aim when setting up Skirr Skin was to provide athletes with highly effective eco-friendly products.
For me, this was a complete change in direction. I launched the brand whilst completing my training as a nutritional therapist. I hope to be able to take Skirr Skin forward, not only with new products including a women’s cycling cream and athletes foot balm which are in the pipeline but also with a nutrition range in the long term too.
What do you remember about those early days and how have things changed for you since its inception?
At the start, it is very nerve-wracking and time-pressured. As a sole entrepreneur, I initially did everything myself and then brought in expertise in web design and manufacturing.
A lot has changed since I launched which was only three weeks before the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown. I had partnered with various events, including the Lochness360 Ultra and the Craggy Island Triathlon. As they were all cancelled, I had to very quickly adapt from thinking I would sell directly to consumers at events to it all going online.
I am now more confident, although I am constantly learning new things in areas such as marketing and collaborations. We are collaborating digitally with our first sporting events, including the Aviemore Triathlon with Durty Events. I have also recruited our first brand ambassador, a Scottish elite cyclist, Kyle Gordon. He describes our anti-chafing Sport Body Balm as a game-changer that has solved his chafing problems, allowing him to train and race pain-free again.
What/Who has helped you along the way to continue to grow and evolve?
I have had lots of help from my local enterprise agency, Highlands & Islands Enterprise. Through them, I was lucky enough to be one of the first winners of the W-Power Innovation Fund Award. This is an EU funded scheme aiming to support women in remote arctic regions (including the west coast of Scotland) in setting up as entrepreneurs.
I have also had a lot of support through the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, which has helped me gain access to two virtual trade missions to the US, which are coming up soon. Family and friends have helped me practically as well as by spreading the word about Skirr Skin!
Do you have ‘mindset musts’ that you swear by?
Yes, I always start my day by planning out what I want to achieve. I always try to look on the positive side of things and finish every day by listing three things I am grateful for. I make sure I sleep, eat and move well, which as a nutritional therapist, I am always recommending to my clients too.
Looking after yourself as an entrepreneur is absolutely essential if you don’t want to get burnt out as you have to put in a lot of hard work. My expertise in nutritional therapy is in enhancing energy levels and improving performance, and I use a lot of biohacking and lifestyle tips myself to keep myself feeling good!
How do you cope with and overcome barriers? Are there any that really stand out?
There are a lot of barriers. Here a couple that stand out for me.
- Financially you have to take risks and that doesn’t always feel comfortable. I think women are less likely to want to do this too, but you have to really believe in what you are doing as well as keeping a cool head so that you try to make the best financial decisions for the best return in the long run.
- Another barrier is the difficulty finding your way into certain parts of the industry. It is very difficult sometimes to find a way to contact buyers at retailers or to find the best person to speak to about innovative packaging. In my experience, you have to keep trying and not be afraid to ask for help when you get stuck.
What do you define as success for you and how do you celebrate it? Are there any standout moments?
For me, success comes in taking lots of little steps forward. When I think back a whole year now, a huge amount has changed. It does make me think I should stop and celebrate more often.
In fact, when I was having a moment of self-doubt someone reminded me of how much I had done from designing a brand, creating products, sorting out packaging, agreeing to a manufacturing deal, writing blogs and press releases, finalising a website, setting up and managing my social media.
Wow, now I’ve written all that down it is quite incredible. I will need to stop for a glass of bubbly!
What are the top lessons that you’ve learnt as an entrepreneur?
Be brave and always believe in yourself.
I don’t mean that you need to have a huge ego, and I do definitely get imposter syndrome sometimes, but I think if you are not brave, you can’t move forward and take the steps to create something that challenges the status quo and steps you outside of your comfort zone.
What are your top tips for anyone dreaming on setting up their own venture, struggling with getting it off the ground, or equally, are in it, but finding it hard (particularly amid COVID-19)?
I have three top tips:
1. Have a clear strategy. Start with the end in mind; dream big and be clear about where you want to go.
2. Keep taking small steps forward. As long as they all align with your strategy, you will get going.
3. Start each week and each day by writing down what you want to achieve – then you are more likely to do it.
Covid-19 has made things particularly challenging. Launching as a sports brand just before lockdown was particularly difficult; it put a lot of additional pressure on us to sell products as we had got our stock in ready for the events. Now though, I think it allowed me to do things I might not have done.
I joined webinars with the Sustainability in Sport, something that probably wouldn’t have happened previously. I have used LinkedIn to make new contacts and reach out to experts in the field to ask for help and advice.
Everyone I have asked has been so helpful and encouraging that despite working at home, in remote Argyll in Scotland, it is impossible not to feel more connected in the wider industry than I did previously.
For more about Skirr Skin and its sustainable sport skincare story, head on over to Instagram @skirr_skin.
You can also find out more about our entrepreneur empowerment series @lionspiritmedia.