smol: Paula Quazi
Name: Paula Quazi
Company Name: smol Products
Location: South East UK
Date Launched: 1 May 2018
Tell us what your business does:
We have created the most concentrated laundry tablet in the world. By cutting out the middleman and delivering direct to consumers, we help them save up to 50% on the normal brand price.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I'm a marketeer and also a mother and it's hard to unblur those lines. You see opportunities all the time – often when you least expect to.
Laundry detergent has always been one of those purchases that I've never enjoyed. It's expensive, boring and inconvenient – who wants to lug heavy boxes home from the supermarket and then have them take up all the space in the cupboards?
So, the idea of a subscription-based laundry detergent was born, bringing consumers convenience, value and outstanding performance in one.
What were you doing before starting up?
I joined Unilever in 1990 as a marketing trainee. After 17 years and a career spanning many brands and markets, I became one of the first female marketing directors on the board of Unilever UK business.
In the last few years, I decided to leave Unilever and work for myself as a marketing consultant in order to support my work-life balance while my two children were small.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, it has always been my dream to run my own business, even when I graduated as a chemist.
How did you raise the money?
Our seed money came from private investors.
Describe your business model and how you make money
We are a subscription business, selling directly to consumers.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Developing the product was a huge challenge. Creating a product that is the most effective concentrated capsule in the world was no easy feat!
Everyday is a challenge, everything is a new experience!
What was your first big breakthrough?
Making the world's most effective and concentrated laundry capsule… it took a long time but was a hell of an achievement.
Also, we didn't quite realise the love there is out there for laundry. It's been awoken by smol, and by people of all ages and walks of life. We have consumers from age 16 to 92; in many cases entire generations have converted to smol and what is really unusual is the reversal in the usual pattern of recommend. We're now seeing it go up the generational ladder, where children are telling their parents about smol and converting them as customers.
Then, of course, smashing our annual target in 12 weeks has been pretty amazing.
The most seemingly mundane of categories actually has a significant role in peoples' lives. It has been ignored for too long and smol is giving it an exciting new lease of life.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Trust your instinct, work hard and never give up.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
Having developed a brand which is loved by consumers across the world.