We caught up with Banasa Williams to chat about sustainable body care brand Ksoni.
Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
Kṣoṇī is a sustainable body care brand on a mission to extend the eco-mindset from the kitchen to the bathroom, via unique, plastic-free packaging. We want to offer consumers the opportunity to access premium and natural bathroom products whilst simultaneously reducing their use of single-use plastics. Ultimately, we want to make a positive impact on the war against plastic waste and embrace the circular economy. After months of testing and prototyping we are now able to launch our shampoos and body washes, packaged in aluminium cans.
How did you come up with the idea?
My co-founder Joti and I were inspired to start Ksonī together based on our individual experiences tackling plastic waste in our daily lives. For Joti, what made her want to tackle the issue was was witnessing an immense amount of plastic waste during a dive trip in South East Asia in 2017. She has worked several years previously in large consulting firms with huge eco footprints. When she got home, she really wanted to make a conscious effort to cut plastic from her life. After making a number of easy changes in the kitchen like cutting out single-use plastic bags and using refillable cleaning products, she realised that there are very limited options to cut plastic in the bathroom, especially in the shower.
For myself, it was working in health and wellness businesses throughout my career that made me want to fight plastic waste. I observed a growing number of consumers who wanted to purchase products that made a positive impact on the environment, but felt they were lacking in options that worked for diverse bodies or lifestyles. Having made my own natural shampoos and conditioners for several years, I also wanted to overcome the stigma around eco-friendly products being of lesser quality than their mass-produced counterparts.
When we first met in 2018, we immediately hit it off - and within months we decided we’d would launch a natural beauty brand together that minimised use of plastic. From there, Ksoni was born.
What’s unique about your business?
100% plastic-free packaging – a world first for a liquid bathroom product. 100% natural ingredients (that actually work). Our products are infused with essential oils chosen for their specific hair, skin and mood benefits and are suitable for a wide range of hair and skin types.
What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
We were at the very beginning of our journey when we applied for the Start Up Loan. We had already completed our brand identity and high-level business plan, but we needed additional investment to complete our MVP (minimum viable product) and gear up for launch.
The Virgin StartUp tools, such as the business plan and cash flow forecast, were useful for us to get realistic on how much to ask for and to work out where we could invest, given a limited initial budget. There are also a number of businesses we admire such as Dash Water, Upcircle Beauty & BYBI who also received Virgin StartUp loans which positively impacted their businesses.
How have you used it to grow your business?
We are using the Start Up Loan to finalise our packaging, product range and our initial launch marketing activity. However, our main motivation for applying was not only receiving the loan, but the opportunity to work with an experienced group of Virgin StartUp business advisors. The resources available like the webinars, MeetUps and 1-2-1 phone calls have been helpful when we have encountered challenges along our journey. We are most excited about being paired up with our mentor in a few weeks.
Biggest achievement so far?
We were thrilled to be accepted into the spring 2019 cohort of Makerversity’s “Makers with a Mission” programme at Somerset House, which is focused on supporting sustainable creative businesses. The opportunity to work alongside and collaborate with makers who are similarly focused on increasing sustainability has been invaluable.
What’s next for your business?
Our main focus is getting ready for our initial launch so we can finally get our products out there. We are working towards launching by the end of 2019.
Who was your Business Advisor and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp Loan?
Ollie Collard was our Business Advisor. He was very responsive throughout the process, outlined the timescales and the potential pitfalls, and helped us refine our business plan and cashflow forecast so it was more realistic. We wouldn’t be here without Ollie!