Despite the economic gloom, many women entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities to start a new business. Dominique Ernesta, 27, recently launched her first business, Fiykreol, an online beauty shop that caters for all the beauty needs and personal care of women in Seychelles, and best of all, they can shop in the comfort of their home. Talking to Cosmocreole, Dominique said she has always loved all things beauty and has had the urge to start a business for a while.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Seychelles to Seychellois parents. I have three siblings, one sister and two brothers. I studied in England between 2013-2017, where I attained a bachelor’s degree in international business and management. Upon returning to Seychelles in 2017, my first role out of university was working as a supervision officer in the Capital Markets and Collective Investment Schemes Supervision Section of the Financial Services Authority for two years. Through this experience, I learnt a lot and grew an interest in law (notably the undergraduate degree I should have gone for in the first place). In 2019, I went back to England to undertake a conversion course, the graduate diploma in law, which would allow me to pursue a masters degree in law later on in life should I wish to do so.
I currently work in the financial sector as a compliance, anti-money laundering and risk assistant for a leading Contract For Differences (CFD) provider, which is a really interesting role.
Have you always been entrepreneurial? What led you to take that first step and set up your own business?
I always knew I would start a business at some point in my life; many of my family members and close ones are entrepreneurs, so I was always searching for business ideas. Over the years, whenever I think of an idea, I usually type it in my notes on my phone for future consideration. I registered the business in March 2021 and launched it in March this year.
Fiy Kreol is the first business idea I have decided to pursue. Like many other new businesses in Seychelles, the idea for Fiy Kreol came about during the pandemic. The reasons why I thought of starting Fiy Kreol were; that many online stores had stopped shipping to Seychelles at that time and have not resumed international shipping to date, and I missed the availability of products I had access to when I was studying in England. I would enjoy my weekly shopping trips to Boots, and it is something I missed when moving back. Finally, I wanted to create a platform where Seychellois women would find most of their beauty necessities in one place, rather than the hassle of going to multiple shops to find everything needed, which is a common occurrence in Seychelles with everything.
What’s the meaning behind the name Fiy Kreol?
Fiy Kreol aligns with the branding concept I wanted to develop for the business. Aside from selling products curated for the needs of Seychellois women, Fiy Kreol is a reflection of us all; as young girls and women, we start learning about makeup and personal care at a very early age by watching other women in our lives, such as our mothers, aunties, sisters etc. So I thought the name would keep a sense of playfulness and mirror this.
What kind of products do you stock, and what are the brands available to your customers?
The products currently available on the website range from:
- Hair accessories such as detangling brushes, hair combs, hair elastics
- Skincare products and accessories such as face masks, toners, cotton pads, gua sha stone, serums
- Bath & Body, self-care products such as hand creams, hand masks, coffee body scrubs
- Suncare and after sun such as sunscreen and aloe vera gel
- Makeup such as lipsticks, mascaras, liquid eyeliners, eyeshadow palettes and many more
I am working on increasing the number of products on the website. The majority of brands on the website are those I am familiar with and have used their products for a few years. I do a lot of research, reviews, and test products for new brands before I put them on the website. In determining which products to sell, I think of the basics, what do I use in my everyday life?
At present, I stock the following Korean Beauty brands A’Pieu, Etude House, Farm Stay, Holika Holika, Innisfree, Isntree and Mediheal. I was introduced to Korean beauty products by one of my flatmates at university who is a skincare enthusiast. One of our favourite things to do was girls’ nights indoors, where we would try different sheet face masks, have a gin and tonic and watch Netflix. Up to this day, we still uphold the same routine even when we’re on holiday.
Are there any particular brands you prefer to work with, and why?
I am focusing on stocking independent brands, meaning those independently owned and operated by the founder (not a large corporation). For example, in the makeup category, I stock Sacha Cosmetics. Sacha Cosmetics began operations in 1979 in Trinidad and Tobago, one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. It is a family-owned company. All the products are manufactured in Trinidad & Tobago. Sacha Cosmetics is a renowned brand in the Caribbean and Latin America. The brand focuses on developing makeup for multicultural women, which is one of the reasons why I chose to stock it.
I also stock Standard Beauty which is a South African skincare brand. Standard Beauty was founded in June 2020 by Ann-Kathrin Joos. It is an independent female-founded skincare brand and comprises a woman only workforce. Within six months of launching, Standard Beauty became one of the most sold skincare brands online and is currently the fastest-growing skincare e-commerce retailer in South Africa.
Alongside these brands, I am also developing the Fiy Kreol brand, which focuses on hair accessories at the moment. The first Fiy Kreol product is the ten pack hair elastics. The hair elastics are of excellent quality, and they will not break easily. I was lucky to find a great supplier who manufactures for other well-known hair accessories brands.
I would also like to say that Fiy Kreol sources the products directly from the brands or authorised distributors of the brands, ensuring the authenticity of the products and competitive prices.
Why did you opt for an online shop, and how does delivery to your customer works?
I am a huge fan of convenience, and I hope to contribute to enhancing the way we shop in Seychelles. It is personally frustrating having to drive around the island or walk around town in search of only one thing or rushing during your lunch break or after work hours to meet a shop’s operating hours.
With an online store, it is technically open 27/4 and provides convenience and flexibility. For example, you could shop on a Sunday when retail stores of this nature are usually closed and get your products delivered or available for collection on Monday, the following day.
We offer two options for shipping, an in-store collection free of charge at Delrose shop, located at Mont Fleuri, opposite the school of music, or we can deliver at a fee depending on the delivery location.
How can you assure your customers that purchasing online with Fiy Kreol is safe?
I know there is some degree of reluctance to purchase online. The website is encrypted, meaning there is a secure connection and information is kept confidential such as payment details. Fiy Kreol does not have access to customers’ confidential payment details. The website supports local payment methods; the payments are facilitated by a reputed global payment service provider called Cybersource, and Absa Bank Seychelles Ltd provides support.
In case of any unlikely payment related issues, I am always one call or email away. Nonetheless, customers should, of course, always observe good cybersecurity practices when using the internet.
You are a young entrepreneur with a full-time job; how do you balance working and running your business?
It is challenging to manage my time. In terms of running the business, I do as much as possible outside of my working hours and over the weekend. However, I do not do it all on my own; I outsource website services to Dezigncubicle, a professional web design agency and branding and graphic design services to Créatifs Studio, a full-fledged marketing agency. Both companies are based in Seychelles and are led by a Seychellois team.
Do you have any message for Seychellois who has a passion or an idea but is scared to explore it further?
If you can’t shake the urge to do something, go for it. There is nothing new under the sun; focus on yourself and what you are trying to achieve and make it your own. Even if it does not work out, there are so many lessons and skills you will pick up along the way. These are things I remind myself of every day.
What’s the future for Fiy kreol?
I would like to expand the range of products and brands available on the website. My hope for Fiy Kreol is that it grows into one of the main shopping destinations where Seychellois women choose to shop for all their beauty needs.