read how madeby came to be, from the cradle to now, as we best recall it.
our story began in 2018 in a small apartment in the middle of nowhere. with only one desk and next to no free time, what will become madeby was born. I had just moved to the UK with £900 to my name. I was young, energetic, burning with the desire to start my own business, the third time... and still naive enough to actually go for it.
our first original creation was the microfibre blender, a makeup sponge that saves you 70% of your foundation. nice. a fitting start to set the tone for the future madeby - unusual, performing stuff, with a twist.
our first version of our website, back when we were ‘Sunday Ivy’. I made it myself with no knowledge of graphic or web design. everything is figureoutable.
I received my first sale the day after launching and was left reeling by the Christmas rush. I started the business from my living room, my neighbour was constantly asking what I was up to. all the packing, supply deliveries and printing was happening on top of his flat. little did he know he had a fully fledged ecommerce operation in the making just above him.
I clearly didn’t have enough stock and my supplier told me it would take 20 days to get to me. I had to individually email more than 2000 people telling them about the delay. only two people asked for a refund but I can still remember the feeling I had in my stomach. it was that awkward combination of extreme happiness, excitement, stress, anxiety and an imminent nervous breakdown. it hasn’t left me since.
orders were piling up outside my home in Surrey. and all of this had to fit in my mini...
daily runs to the post office became my new normal but I needed to separate my home from my packing space. I needed more space. badly. I had boxes of products in every corner of the flat, and was literally living with my stock.
still passionate about building something that empowers young people, I decided to rent a proper 500sqf commercial property. we all start somewhere but I was pretty pleased with it. we were starting to be more legit. I also hired Belma, a full-time ‘’I’m going to do it all because I’m the second employee of a startup’’, and a part-time packer.
was this the right decision? we would now have to provide salaries and pay for warehousing. but who knew what would happen and whether the company would still be profitable in 6 months?! but that’s the fun of it, innit.
our first ever warehouse. I assembled the work benches myself.
well that escalated quickly. in entrepreneurship, the highest the highs, the lowest the lows. fast forward june, we came very close to losing everything on a few occasions, like when £80,000 worth of stock arrived completely damaged! but we also felt on top of the world, on others, like when we had coverage from Forbes, Glamour, The Sun and so many others, without spending a penny.
ultimately, this is what madeby is about, we do more with less.
without a major marketing budget, we need to get creative to reach the same audiences big brands do.
I have always, always wanted to start my own consumer business, and build a brand with integrity. starting madeby was seriously one of the easiest decisions I've ever made.
I realised that there was nothing out there to serve my own needs as a consumer (no bs, high-quality, irreverent), and eventually, solving that problem became more compelling than anything else in my life.
after our ad went viral, we were approached by Sephora. we were now selling through other retailers, online and in stores. it’s no easy feat. but what’s fun about easy? we were also busy sending out online orders, and everyone had to pitch in, to help pack and ship them your way.
some people find it weird that I work so much but it’s not a chore. I love what I do and the devil makes work for idle hands. nuh worry yuself bout meh!
we continue to innovate and develop our own products, good for your skin and for the planet, like our infamous magic eraser. our ‘only water’ reusable make up remover.
it’s safe to say that growth is an uncomfortable process. and pain is a necessary investment for progress. the past few months have been quite a ride. we were selected for NatWest’s Power Up scheme for scale ups and we’ve been doing just that!
we moved to our first office and welcomed new team members: Morgan, Janice, Oxy, Kaitlyn, and Cindy. our young brand also won various awards that month, including ‘Best E-commerce of the Year’, Forbes Top 50 ‘Women behind Middle Eastern Brands’ (only next to legacy brands). always humbling to step out of the everyday grind of startup life and bask in some of these moments.
couldn’t be more proud of how far we’ve come but we’re nowhere near the finish line.
covid-19 spreads, and shit hits the fan. entrepreneurship is glamorised and romanticised. but at the end of the day, it’s really, and I mean really, hard work, and it requires a lot of sacrifices. one day you’re launching a new innovative product that goes viral, the other, you’re trying to figure out how to survive the storm. we still tried to do business as (un)usual. workin’ on a weekend like usual. way off the deep end like usual 🎵
are we really waiting for a return to normal or are we ready to build something different? we decided to take this time to reinvent how we do what we do, bringing you new alternatives and reinventing our brand. our brand has always been about a special sort of pick me up, kicking those boring generic products to the curb. but we felt through it all, we lost sight of a few things, like our vision or our social mission.
we had to pack our bags from the NatWest office and work from home but we’re more inspired than ever to build the next big thing in health and beauty. changing our identity, vision and perception, as a company and for our customers. this also means we now make and package skincare products in our facilities in Oxfordshire. but this is a change we relish and look forward to expanding. we now truly operate the same way we make products: with a person-first perspective.
I was pushing my orders from my home to the post office using the supermarket’s trolley. then this happened, a full operation (still!) in the making 👆🏽
after we announced a new home for madeby, we move into a brand new HQ in Oxfordshire, putting our lab, product making facility and office team under one roof. It’s a whole other ball game. we no longer receive products that we sell on our website. we make them ourselves.
we dive into researching ingredients that will support our goal or what we’re trying to achieve with a type of product. we then choose ingredients that we genuinely believe in, not just some trendy marketing gimmick, by looking at the analytical and clinical data from suppliers (the percentage that drives measurable results).
we also work with an Oxford University Cosmetic Scientist led lab to design, stability and challenge test our formulas. we also repeat these tests yearly and stay up to date with any changes in EU regulations, the most stringent in the world, constantly reviewing allergens, toxicity levels & requirements.
we source from small farms, distillers and co-operatives around the world, making sure the profits go directly to the producers. the ingredients are also analysed and scientifically profiled before making it to our lab for further testing. they're certified organic wherever possible, vegan and cruelty-free.
products are now made fresh and usually leave our warehouse within 2 weeks.
our brand new HQ…except Morgan ordered the wrong size sign and Mic still put it up (insert covered face emoji)
we continue to make waves in the UK and abroad. we made it into more publications and continue to generate interest without spending a penny. we also welcomed new retailers in the Middle East and the US, bringing the total of doors to 800, which was a life saver considering stores were shut down in the UK.
more than ever, we're committed to building a strong business, driven by our social mission of empowering our community to take charge of their life, and just like us, go after their dreams.
delivering a strong experience to you will continue to be a priority for us every month of 2021, we get better and better in this regard, and we expect 12 months of 2022 to be no exception.
told ya, the highest the highs, the lowest the lows.
we continue to scale in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. we’re working tirelessly to open a second office in the United Arab Emirates to continue to expand in the region. we’re struggling to keep up with demand. Brexit hits and our entire supply chain is rocked, ex. we can no longer import our usual bottles from Poland or ingredients from around the world.
for the longest time, we also stopped retailing in the EU because of the huge taxes imposed on our customers. we also made the decision to close our first retail shop to focus on expanding our product making capability and face the challenges brought by post-covid UK.
in the midst of it all, we make the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list for Europe.
we continue to hire and grow our teams in product making, order fulfilment and in the office. what a ride!
we meet Boris Johnson and are personally congratulated by him for our progress during the past few years. Anais, our production manager, receives an award from the Prime Minister, a testament to her progress within our company as well as her personal growth. we often think that we build companies for customers, but the truth is, our employees are just as important, if not more (sorry guys!).
we celebrated with Tacos and the best ice cream in London. hit me up for the deets!
oh boy, shits hits the fan. for the next 8 months, we loose and gain a lot and no words can describe the journey other than for you to watch it for yourself.
you’re crying, we’re crying, everybody’s crying…
allow us to reintroduce ourselves. made by sunday is back as madeby. but don’t call it a rebrand, it’s more of a natural evolution…a coming of age if you will. everything pharmacy skincare isn't. everything botanical skincare wishes it was.
we create highly-concentrated results-driven products with proven science, using only plant-based ingredients. no fillers. no BS. no 10-steps routines. we still research, formulate and manufacture our own products in England, UK and have upgraded our facilities and our equipment. our team is now global and our ambitions bigger than ever.
we adopt a holistic ‘nature powered by science’ philosophy to building madeby. this approach forms the backbone of our formula development, creating a distinctive harmony between biological insights and the art of cosmetic chemistry.
one word: bangin’
well, there you have it up to now. like all good stories... there’s more to come, and we’re excited to see what it is.
thanks for being a part of madeby. now it’s time for you to get back to your story. make it great!
oh you want more, I’m flattered
I don’t really know what to say…
I guess I could shoot the breeze with you for a while
we’re very personable
seriously, we could go all day
it’s good for the fingers this
can you scroll with your little finger?
go on try it.
ok got no time for this, gotta go x