MP chatted with Reham Essa, cosmetic chemist and the founder and CEO of Radixir, a new anti-aging skincare line designed to address acne and breakouts in mature skin, about her entrepreneurial journey. Initially a pharmacist, Essa decided to start Radixir to provide customers with effective skincare products that can fit into their fast-paced lifestyles.

Founder and CEO of Radixir Reham Essa / Photo courtesy of Reham Essa

The Journey

The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business? 

I haven’t been an entrepreneur before, so becoming one has been a process that challenges me and allows me to grow every day. 

When I got the idea for my skincare line, I leveraged my training as a pharmacist and cosmetic chemist and started as a formulator. 

But the brand founder job entailed so much more than that!

Shortly after, I wore multiple hats: manager, designer, decision-maker, and more. As I developed my business, I learned something new every day. 

My entrepreneurial journey allowed me to connect with different people I’ve been learning from. 

I find it amazing how much we can learn from each other’s experiences or get inspired by each other. 

The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur?

Absolutely! 

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2020, when traditional work processes worldwide shifted dramatically, transitioning to the work-from-home setting. 

So, working with people virtually and missing the day-to-day communication with others has been an added challenge, but I was still able to make new friends. 

Joining platforms and groups for like-minded professionals, entrepreneurs, and people who work in the cosmetic field helped me a lot. 

The Psychological Warfare

Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur?  

That’s true! 

I found myself in this situation, especially in the beginning when there was so much to be done in a very short period. That passion and determination took away time from other things in my life that were equally important. 

For me, the key to overcoming that was to schedule self-care time. Working out, seeing friends, and taking care of yourself are necessary to re-energize and recharge your energy. 

And this is what Radixir skincare is all about: maximizing the effect of the products to get better results quickly to make it easy on people with busy lifestyles. 

Newer entrepreneurs often equate their success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?

I feel I’m giving my business everything from time, money, creativity, and attention perspectives. 

Regardless of where the entrepreneurial journey takes me, I see my business as a chapter in my life and that I will either move to the next part of it or will have to modify or change it. 

But, for the time being, it’s my extension, and I’m giving it all I can now.

What are your three biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?

1. Managing Time, People, and Money

The more experienced I get, the easier it becomes to navigate. 

With time, I started making wiser decisions about what I could do now and what I should postpone. This helped me manage my fear of time management. 

2. Making Sure I Have Enough Energy, Financial Support, and Marketing Know-How

I must keep going until I can reach my customers and offer them value through my products. 

Partnering with experts to help me reach my goals faster has been instrumental. 

3. Keeping Up With New Changes, Especially With Technology and Social Media Algorithms

Watching tutorials and educational videos and getting one-on-one help helped me improve my knowledge and continue learning daily. 

The Mistakes

What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can others avoid these mistakes?

1. I Listened to Other People When I Wasn’t Convinced

Looking back, I realize that instead of following the opinions of others, I needed to get the information and make my own decision, the decision I would be comfortable with. 

While it’s essential to source opinions of other people, at the end of the day, your decision would have a long-lasting impact on your business. 

2. I’ve Been Rushing To Complete Many Steps When Building My Business and Redoing Them Again

While you may feel like you need to complete everything now, quality is still essential. Don’t rush anything until it is done well and adheres to the highest standards. 

3. I Was Shy To Ask and Promote Myself and My Business

Always remember that you’ve built a business from scratch. You created something that hasn’t existed. This is a good enough reason to be proud of yourself and your business and spread the word about your product. 

What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning?

1. Marketing

Develop a strong marketing strategy and start executing it before you launch your business. As much as we focus on our business, sometimes we think we should start marketing after we launch, but it is essential to start promoting and getting the word out as early as possible. 

2. Building a Team

Having freelancers on board can be efficient and cost-effective, but it is hard to find the right people. So, it’s essential to start building your team ahead of time and have a list of people you can turn to for advice or support on a specific project.  

3. Start Building Business Relationships As Soon as You Can

Regardless of the industry, networking is crucial, and connecting with people can open many opportunities.

Radixir Collection / Photo courtesy of Reham Essa

The Successes

What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them? 

1. Technology

Technology has been a significant obstacle to me in building the website, identifying and installing all necessary apps, and optimizing. 

I don’t have much experience in this area, so I quickly realized I needed professional help from a web developer and designer. 

If you don’t know something, it’s okay to admit that you don’t and find the right person who can bring their expertise to the table and help your business succeed.  

2. Balance

Balancing time between entrepreneurship and life is something I’m still working on. 

3. Time Management

Managing your time wisely without letting things fall through the cracks. Creating a schedule with daily and weekly plans worked well for me, and I think it’s a must-have for any entrepreneur juggling multiple projects simultaneously. 

What are three ways you have managed to boost your productivity without causing burnout?

1. Taking Time To Do Things You Enjoy Is Very Important

It comes down to spending time with my family and I love cooking with my daughters. Also, formulating has become an excellent way for me to de-stress.  

2. Being Around Positive People That Help and Encourage You

It is not a secret that now and then, we all need some encouragement to keep going, so being around people who understand and appreciate what I’m doing has been of great help. 

3. Practicing Self-Care and Setting Realistic Goals

I wish I could go to a spa every day, but my realistic goal is to go once a month. Scheduling ahead made me able to keep track and stick to it. 

The Advice

How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task? 

Finding work-life balance is always challenging as there is so much to take care of on both sides. 

I found it helpful to schedule a time to do work-related projects and do your best to follow this schedule. 

Also, don’t hesitate to schedule events such as workouts, meetings or calls with family or friends, or even walks around the neighborhood. 

If it’s on your calendar, you may be less inclined to miss it. 

What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey more manageable, and why? 

1. Start Marketing Early To Give You a Head Start

If I had started earlier, it would have made my customer base more robust, so I could reach more clients when my products became available.  

2. Don’t Wait Until Everything Is Perfect

It will never be. 

Start when you can and grow by learning more every day. 

I wanted to wait until I had everything in place; by the time I launched, it was a little later than I wanted. 

I spent two years perfecting everything, but I could’ve used that time to grow my business. 

3. Learn Difficult Things

Learn things that are hard for you, then outsource them to the experts as they will do a better and faster job, but you still will be able to tell if they deliver. 

I kept trying to do everything and take courses and training in areas where I lacked expertise. 

Although it's helpful to understand all business areas, you can’t know and do everything perfectly yourself. 

So, with time, I realized that investing in the right team is crucial to the success of your business.  

What do you think the most significant difference is between how an entrepreneur sees their career path versus how an employee at a company sees their career path, and why? 

Many employees don’t feel invested in the success of the companies they work for. They are hired to do a set of tasks, and they are striving to do their job well, get paid, and get a promotion, increasing their salary and a higher title. 

The situation is different for entrepreneurs, as they bring their dream to life by working on their businesses.

Making this dream a reality is their primary motivation. 

They are doing everything possible to succeed and take their company to the next level. 

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