Fiils (formerly The Conscious Beauty Co): Anna Priadka

Fiils offers sustainable beauty products, delivered directly to customers

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Names of founders: Anna Priadka

Location: London

Date Launched: November 2019

Number of employees: 3

Age of founders: 34

Website: Fiils

Instagram: @fiils

Which university, if any, did you attend? N/A

Fiils aims to tackle waste in the beauty industry with its refillable and reusable products. Founder Anna Priadka details how a career as a makeup artist led her to launch a sustainable beauty brand.

Tell us what your business does:

The business is one of the first reuse and refill personal care models delivered ‘direct to door’. We provide your much-loved bathroom basics such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand wash without the plastic waste or nasty additives such as parabens and sulphates.

Our innovative refill packaging is made from aluminium and is flexible, using 50% less energy to produce than a standard plastic bottle. We provide a free recycling service for the refill packages once our customers have used them, closing the loop on the waste and ensuring nothing goes to landfill.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I have been in the beauty industry for fifteen years and worked for some of the biggest and well-known brands as a leading makeup artist.

The amount of waste the beauty industry produces is massive – 140 billion tonnes each year. Even small tester samples such as a single eyeshadow comes wrapped in almost twice the amount of single-use plastic. 

This got me thinking about my own personal care routine and I asked myself the question ‘where do I generate the most single-use plastic waste on a regular basis?’ and the answer was the bathroom. I started thinking of ways then in which I could still use my favourite products, whilst reducing the amount of plastic I was constantly throwing out or recycling.

How did you know there was a market for it?

The beauty industry has definitely pivoted dramatically over the last five years in terms of organic beauty and the demand for vegan beauty products. But I feel it’s only in the last two years that we have woken up to the impact of plastic waste on a worldwide scale. 

Seeing this unfold, it brought me back to my frustration regarding the amount of single-use plastic in my beauty routine and this was when I really decided to do something about it.

After doing some research, I found a couple of smaller companies that were doing a reuse and refill model but none that were making it easy for the customer to return for a refill. We have all become so used to convenience, and I thought if ‘if customers are truly going to buy into this reuse and refill model, it needs to be easy’. 

I also knew that with the increasing pressure on many companies in every sector to reduce the amount of plastic that there would be an increasing demand for more sustainably packaged beauty products.

And, I knew that I needed to get it to market quickly and get some feedback on it to truly discover whether it was something that customers actually would buy into – so far I’ve been right!

What were you doing before starting up?

This is actually my second startup in the last 18 months! My first startup was a vegan disco-inspired lipstick brand which I set up six months after leaving a global role at a large makeup brand. 

Interestingly, I’d already started to develop the deck for Fiils around the same time as this brand. But I think, due to imposter syndrome, I thought ‘I’m going to stick with what I know’ and went ahead and launched the lipstick line. It was going through the research and development process with this brand that I realised there weren’t many options for sustainably packaged beauty – which brought me back to Fiils again.

Six months later, and with the global plastic problem becoming even more devastating – plus seeing a few emerging refill brands in other sectors – I knew the time to launch Fiils was now.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I always said I’d like a business of my own, but was never firmly stuck to the idea until hitting my late 20s.

When I started to progress further in my career, I realised that my leadership skills, commitment to hard work, ability to vision and think outside the box were some of my strongest skills. 

This gave me the confidence to push ahead and explore the idea of owning my own business some more. I am the sort of person who, once I get an idea in my head, has to try it, so I went ahead and did it. And here I am!

How did you raise the money?

For this business I knew I would have to raise funds to get it to market and bring in some angel investors. My first business was funded by myself and family so I didn’t have access to any more funds close to me. I also wanted angels that could bring smart money – from the first business I realised there were so many skills I was lacking and having this added support would be very valuable.

I knew I’d need to have a strong pitch deck, some samples and a solid vision of where I wanted to go with this. Luckily, I’d been accepted onto the NatWest accelerator programme with my first brand and I decided to pivot to the second company whilst I was there. The support I received from my mentor and other entrepreneurs whilst I was there took my knowledge of developing a deck from 0 to 100 and I was able to put something together that I was confident to show investors.

I reached out to my personal network and I think through a combination of luck and good timing with them and the idea, I was successful in raising 70,000 to get me started.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We are purely direct to consumer online at the moment and offer a combination of starter kits plus single refills and bottles. 

Our starter kits have been the most popular as they introduce the customers to the brand. Once they’ve bought into the brand, they can choose how to buy their refills. We offer a single purchase of refills or subscription – if the customers choose this option they are incentivised with a discount.

We are focused on building a very loyal community of customers with this brand – it is key to our growth and development of a purpose-led business. We want to be able to have a conversation with our customers to ask them what they want to see from us and then create it. 

This is a popular way that many millennial/Gen Z brands communicate with their customers but I think for us it’s even more key. By creating products we know our customers want, we save a whole load of unnecessary waste and products being made – developing a truly sustainable business model.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The first challenge was overcoming the fear of actually developing this second business whilst only being six months into my first. When I looked into it, I realised the real reason was fear of what other people would think, especially the family that had supported me financially in my first venture. I realised that the only way to find out is if I actually did it – but made sure I had a strong enough vision and solid deck to back me up.

Once I got over this, the next part was securing the first bit of funding that I needed off the back of a deck. To do this, I made sure that I had done enough research into why this would be a great opportunity and why the time was now. I also had some samples made of the pouch and bottles, and secured the formula samples so I would have something to present.

This took around three months – then I went out and started pitching!

What was your first big breakthrough?

My first investors were actually part of my wider network. This gave me the confidence that the idea I had was an investable idea, allowing me to push production on the first small order and then raise some more investment for the launch. It was a bit of a domino effect after that initial investment and it all happened fairly quickly – from deck to launch, around six months.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Someone told me years before I started my first business that timing is everything.

I now know that it is 100% true! With this concept, the timing has been right, and as an entrepreneur looking for investment, this makes your journey a lot easier. Make sure you get the timing right in the market for your product or service and always look to solve a problem that people have. 

Also, driving your business forward with a purpose and passion for the problem you’re trying to solve gets you a lot further!

Be prepared to pivot if you need to. If something isn’t working or you are knocking on doors constantly to progress your business, step back and re-evaluate. You do have to be persistent but you also have to be realistic – if you instinctively know something needs to change, it probably does.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Surpassing my aspirations and goals for this business and being very happy in the process!

Keen to read more about more new businesses?

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Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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