In the era of social media, we all have our faces shared more than ever before. For those with sensitive skin issues, this can make life even more challenging. It’s difficult to feel confident and in control when you’re worried about how you look and the latest company to join the ICKG family is working to give people with sensitive skin their confidence back. We caught up with Jessica Anastasi from Gentle Human to find out how their new brand will take a new approach to skin health.
Hi Jess and welcome to ICKG! Your company, Gentle Human, is in the early stages of developing new skincare products. Can you tell us more about the company, how long you’ve been going, and the stage you’re at?
Hello! Very grateful to be at ICKG. Gentle Human is a skincare brand for sensitive skin. Benji and I have been working on ideas for skincare since spring 2022. But officially the company has been going for a year – filled with research, mistakes, big life changes and pivoting. We are now in pre-production of our products, bootstrapping and pushing on with research and gaining traction to get us to a strong place for an investment round to industrialise.
Skincare is a very popular market right now, particularly thanks to social media trends. Can you tell us about the particular problem you’re trying to solve and who your products might help?
Skincare IS popular, and for good reason. More people, across all genders, care about their skin, and products and scientific information are becoming more available to us than 10 years ago. People are willing to try new formulas and experiment to reach their ultimate skin health.
However, there is also so much conflicting information across the market. There’s a silent war going on for those with sensitive skin. For them, there is an underlying anxiety for what a new product or the outside environment could do. They tow a thin line between being happy and in conflict with their skin. A constant battle of balance is played silently in bathroom mirrors.
We want those with sensitive skin – to no longer be in conflict. To give them confidence and create a brand they can completely surrender their trust to. That will work and prevent the many uncomfortable issues that come with their skin type.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business partner – what led you to building a skincare startup?
I come from a fashion background – I’ve worked on the marketing side of brands in house and self employed – from luxury watches to the biggest sports brands on the planet and everything in between. I’ve travelled the world of fashion for a decade – so retailing and building a brand is absolutely my bread and butter.
Benji, on the other hand, has always been self employed, specialising as an Image Consultant to some of London’s most Elite individuals. He brings a really unique perspective on what it takes to make people feel good about themselves. Which is why he has so naturally been able to get obsessed with the product side of the business.
Ultimately, we built Gentle Human out of frustration – we both have sensitive skin and both have been navigating the beauty industry offering like guinea pigs. Constantly on the hunt for something that works, reading medical journals, publications and struggling to find a brand we could completely surrender our trust to. So that frustration gave birth to GH.
Where do you see the business in a year’s time? What are your top priorities at the moment?
A year from now – I see us having launched our first product collection. Which is a ton of work but very exciting .
Top priorities at the moment are:
- Research research research. We need to ensure we have a razor sharp direction for the company and to obtain this we have to nail our product market fit
- Investment – building traction and gaining vital investment to take us to industrialisation stage of the business – daunting and exhilarating all at the same time
- Formulation – we have our table formulation, so then we go into the formulation stage which is where you go back and forth with your manufacturer to perfect your product
You’ve been with us at ICKG for two months now, how are you settling in? Can you tell us about any positive experiences you’ve had so far from being in the centre?
So firstly it’s all about the little things for me. Saying hello to the reception team, chats with Georgina the office manager and fellow business owners are what are so lovely. Everyone’s really friendly and normally have a decent sense of humour. Ha!
Overall I’m settling in well – ICKG is absolutely where a startup should be. Coming from a corporate creative business background, you are capable but specialised in your field. The support you receive from your own Business Advisor in Kathryn, to workshops and events are exactly what I need and will continue to need as the business grows. There is no script to first-time startup owners – ICKG offers a level of format and direction you need.
Coming from COVID work from home culture and then freelancing for 2 years based from home, being based in an office where the entire team are invested in you, your wellbeing, having chats, is the human connection we forget we actually need. I moved from being 30 mins from London to Colchester due to a big life changing event – and wondered if I’ll ever be able to find the support outside of the city – and ICKG offers that.
It was a brave step, to move full time into working on a startup, do you have any advice for other budding entrepreneurs?
It’s not for the faint hearted – but if you believe you are destined for running a business – that’s half the battle – my advice is:
No Ego. Myself and Benji live by core values, one of which is to bring no ego to the business. This has allowed a strong and transparent working environment – this should be your number one priority. You will not know everything and that’s the fun part. Everyone is figuring it out. Big businesses I have worked in have seen failure due to ego being weaved through their decisions. But businesses without it – flourish. Stay humble and listen.
Product Market Fit. Figuring out your product market fit – properly – with research – is absolutely your priority if you are ever to create a space with your brand and to gain investment. This is something I wish I had more direction on prior to coming to ICKG – and am so grateful to have it now.
Financials. You will not make money in the first year or two. Make sure you are liquid enough to sustain yourself for those two years at least or have the support of a partner and family. That’s the hard truth – but it is achievable I promise. Short term sacrifice – for long term gain.
Watch this space to find out more about Gentle Human as the company grows!