While starting YLLO, I was working as a Product Designer at Shopify. My business partner and boyfriend, Jamil, owns and operates Burgers n’ Fries Forever, a burger joint with two locations out of Ottawa, Canada.
Previously to starting YLLO, Jamil and I had started Spicetox, an online store selling spice blends tailored to different health issues. Despite our best efforts, it didn’t really catch on. But we learned a lot. We decided to close up shop, but had a bunch of turmeric left over.
Ironically, our turmeric blend was actually our worst seller. We put our heads together and decided to repurpose our turmeric as a face scrub. Growing up in a Bengali household, Jamil was super familiar with the spice —not only for use in cooking, but also topically on the skin. We decided to bootstrap YLLO with only $400 ( and carried over debt from Spicetox).
We started off with an aggressive Instagram strategy. Social proof is so important for any business, so we made a point to contact a ton of influencers early on and send them a free pack of face scrub to try out. Because we were able to get a ton of social proof early on, we were able to grow our Instagram account quickly and caught the eye of online magazines like Allure, Brit + Co., and GQ.
As you may know, turmeric has a rich history. It’s best known for its culinary applications, but in terms of topical uses, the Haldi ceremony first comes to mind. In many South Asian cultures, this ceremony is performed before weddings. Turmeric makes up the majority of this vibrant yellow paste, which is applied to the bride and groom's bodies.
Haldi is believed to ward off evil spirits, promise a life of prosperity, and make the couple have a beautiful glow on their wedding day. We think this tradition is beautiful and should be celebrated.
Unfortunately, there's a horrible truth that isn’t often talked about. In India alone, it is estimated that 47% of girls are married before their 18th birthday. Jamil’s own mother was married before she turned 18... and his grandmother at just nine years old. We want these stories to be heard in an effort to stop this awful practice so girls can be just that: girls. We've made it our mission to help empower girls and communities around the world and prevent future child brides.
We donate 10% of our profits go to Girls Not Brides member organizations around the world. We also make a point of highlighting the very real stories of child marriage on our blog each week to draw attention to this global problem.
In our first year of business, we averaged $5,500.00 USD /month in sales.
After over a year of only selling one product, we’re currently working on 3 new products that should be released in Aug 2017. We’re also working on moving all manufacturing to an FDA-approved lab as well as outsourcing fulfillment.
We’re currently retailing in Anthropologie across Canada and the US, so are looking to actively find more stores to retail in this year.
Inspired by Indian traditions that naturally heal and nourish skin in transparent and holistic ways, YLLO seeks to solve complicated problems with simple ingredients. The store uses proceeds to help empower girls around the world and showcases their stories on their website.