Start - up stories Karamel and Brown

Start Up Stories: Karamel and Brown

June 3rd, 2014 by

How Cheryl Effiom made her start-up loan count…

Cheryl Effiom is a motivational poster with a pulse. She’s the living and breathing incantation of the sort of slogans you’ll find on Pinterest. You know the kind – ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door’ and ‘Follow your dreams or you’ll spend the rest of your life working for someone who did.”

In 2012, Cheryl left her job as a recruitment consultant to set up her own business, Karamel and Brown.

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“I’ve had a passion for business since I was a child,” says Cheryl. “I set up my first one when I was 11 or 12. It was a mobile car wash, going from door to door with a bucket and sponge. After university, I’d been working in recruitment for two years when I realised that something wasn’t right. I brought in 70K in 7 months for someone else. I remember going back to work after Christmas and heading to the train station when the moon was still out. I thought to myself ‘this is enough!’”

Shortly after her moonlit trip to the train station, Cheryl handed in her notice and formed her company. Karamel and Brown is a beauty brand aimed at brown skin tones. The company’s flagship Glow range has been designed to enhance the natural beauty of Asian, black and mixed heritage skin, a little like fake tan, but with organic elements.

“I’d been saving up while I was working,” says Cheryl. “But I wasn’t sure what business I was saving for. Then I discovered a gap in the beauty market because my sisters and mum were having trouble finding a fake tan product that suited their dark skin.”

Within months of getting the product developed by a chemist and manufactured professionally, Karamel and Brown had been featured in several magazines and beauty blogs, including handbag.com, which has a readership of 670,000.

As more and more eyes turned to her business, Cheryl made plans to expand. At the end of 2012, she applied for a start-up loan with UK2’s business partners Start-Up Loans.

“As part of the application I had to send over a forecast and a business plan,” says Cheryl. “And the reaction was really positive. They loved the idea. It was all quite straight forward. The money landed in my account in March. I’d planned out everything I was going to do with it and it gave my businesses a real boost.”

Cheryl spent her loan on developing her website, SEO, exposure, products and social media output, including facebook and twitter. She also spent some of the money on a mentor, which start-up loans put her in contact with.

“My mentor was priceless,” says Cheryl. She mentored my on branding and networking. She even asked me if I wanted to come with her to Ascot to network.”

Cheryl’s approach to the future of her business is like another Pinterest poster.

“There’s always more that can be done to be successful,” says Cheryl. “Until I’m turning over a million I won’t be satisfied.”

Earlier this year, UK2 teamed up with Start-up Loans to offer new recipients of loans extra help getting their business established online. The deal begins by offering new businesses a six-month web hosting trial completely free. At the end of the trial, they have the option to get 50 percent off a two-year business web hosting package, if the start-up wants to continue running their web presence through UK2.

New businesses will be eligible for the UK2’s deal as soon as their application for their start-up loan has been approved and can redeem the offer here. Got that idea you’ve been meaning to get off the ground? Get in touch with Start Up Loans to see if you’d be eligible for their business loans and mentoring here.

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