Quick-Fire Questions with
Coline Benjamin, Founder of CELF Haircare
Sustainable Haircare Products
CELF Haircare was founded by a Jamaican-born, London raised Coline Benjamin. Her love for hair began in childhood, as she crafted healthy grooming rituals for her hair. As a mother, Coline felt pulled towards action. She changed her lifestyle to reduce the amount of plastic in her family’s homes and lives and she set her sights on a cleaner, more innovative future for the hair care industry.
The line of hair care products are focused on performance and products that give life to your hair. The CELF range blends the purity of nature with the power of science, leaving your hair feeling healthy and revived without a build-up of product coating the hair.
Hi Coline! What inspired you to start the business and how did you get started?
Hi! I started my company as a way to solve a problem. My baby boy, Joel was the inspiration for the brand and the kind and gentle formulations. At six-months-old, I notice he was allergic to most synthetic ingredients. I didn’t need to look very far at all the nasties I was using daily on my children and myself. This was the beginning of CELF Haircare complete range.
Throughout my teenage years, and early 20s, I worked in salons. My love for hair began in childhood, as I crafted healthy grooming rituals for my hair. It was and still is traditional for myself and other Jamaican females to make time for our hair. I can recall clearly with a smile, seeing myself on the weekends in Jamaica meeting up with friends or families just to ‘comb through’, ‘twist’, ‘chiney bump’ or plait each other’s hair. It does not matter іf уоu hаvе straight, wavey, curly or kinky hair mаіntаіnіng your hair is important.
I am the only person behind the brand so for me I had to be creative in every aspect of developing CELF. Being a mother of two it was extremely challenging as I like to get everything done a certain way before I can move on to a different task. That held me back for months. Being in lockdown helped me to deliver on this project.
Can you tell us a little about the target market?
This would be women in and around London. It is still early days for us, but things could change as we have seen steady growth up North.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
For us social media as proven very effective in reaching a new audience daily and seeing an insight into all our customers. As I am the only person behind the brand, I tend to focus more on Instagram.
What tools do you use in your business?
I tend to stick to a simple to-do list and hire a professional to take care of the backend of the business. This allows me to focus on what I am confident in doing. I find it is easy for me to lose focus and I get anxious trying to take on something I have no clue about.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Never rush into taking a decision you are unsure about. Always give yourself time to avoid any business pitfalls that can impact your business financially.
How important is networking for your business?
Really important! I recently joined Clubhouse and I am enjoying it as it helps me to come out of that box and be more open. For us, this is a real game-changer to learn and network with other entrepreneurs and learn from professionals that have made it in the same or a similar industry.
What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of entrepreneurship?
I love seeing who you serve and how they love what you have to offer. I particularly love to see the reviews and private DMs from customers telling us how much they love our products. This truly is the fuel you need to continue showing up every day! I am very critical of myself so getting reassurance from our customers is just a reminder of why we started the CELF clean, organic and vegan formulation.
Being an introvert, I find it extremely difficult showing up in front of my audience. I am still yet to do so after buying all the technical gadgets I need. I have made this my new year resolution to build up my confidence and show up in front of my customers as this is a crucial part of building a brand.
Where do you see CELF in 2 – 3 years time?
We are positive about the future and we look forward to 2021 as for us, 2020 was a very challenging year especially trying to bring your product in front of a new audience.