Sistahs in Business Spotlight: Meet Yekesha Fredericks of Zen & Bloom Co.
Zen & Bloom Co. is an indie skincare brand founded by Yekesha Fredericks. Dedicated to creating natural, exquisite, bath and body products, the mission of Zen & Bloom is to revolutionize self-care rituals by providing indulgent experiences without compromising the quality of their products. At the heart of their product line lies a range of silky whipped body butters, exfoliating sugar body polishes, and nourishing body oils . Each formula is meticulously crafted to offer a sensory journey, stimulating the senses while nourishing the skin.
Zen & Bloom’s philosophy: For anything to bloom, it must be cared for. Your skin included.
Several years back, Yekesha’s skincare world was shaken. Unbeknownst to her, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives lurked into the products she had been using at the time. The realization that embalming fluid shared an ingredient with her skincare regimen, left her cringing and eager for change. As she went on to search for natural alternatives, she found many products that ticked all the right boxes, but with fragrances that leaned towards earthy tones, leaving her floral and fruity preferences unfulfilled.
This skincare nightmare inspired the birth and concept behind Zen & Bloom. Determined to bridge the gap, she explored the world of natural fragrance oils, carefully blending countless oils to create captivating scents that define her unique product lines.
Yekesha says one of the biggest challenges she has had to overcome as an entrepreneurial woman of color has been a lack of access to mentorship. She feels as though more guidance and resources were needed during the start up stages of her business in order to execute her vision from the very beginning. We all know the clear lack of resources in our underserved communities leads to people of color having to do double the work, and making a few more mistakes before reaching the finish line. However, the job gets done, by any means.
Most individuals that took the time to offer and provide Yekesha advice on business ownership and operations, did so from a place of convenience, rather than efficiency. Bombarded with empty recommendations like, "You should do this because it’s trending,” it seemed like no one was willing to show Yekesha how to properly run a sustainably efficient business. This resulted in a much longer, and more costly learning curve for Yekesha.
She was able to pivot and persevere by attending small business seminars, and taking multiple courses. Instead of waiting around for mentorship, she created a list of questions she needed guidance on, then researched how successful companies overcame those same challenges. The insight she gained allowed her to begin building systems and processes necessary to operate an efficient business.
Amidst the global pandemic, Yekesha found herself among the millions facing unexpected unemployment. Yet, rather than surrendering to defeat, she decided to stay focused and was determined to keep going. What started off as a personal hobby (crafting natural skincare products for her own enjoyment), gradually flourished into a fully-fledged brand. However, the journey was far from easy. Although scaling her business at the height of the pandemic did not go as planned, Yekesha was no stranger to adapting.
(images courtesy of Zen & Bloom Co.)
Previously reliant on referrals and sales to friends and family, Yekesha transitioned to an eCommerce model. Embracing this new opportunity to reset, Yekesha learned, “The art of recognizing the opportune moment to pivot is one of the most invaluable skills in business. While the "how" holds significance, it is the "when" that truly determines our survival. For me, Zen & Bloom stands as a reminder that the highs propel us through the lows, and it is within those lows that resilience is nurtured,” (Yekesha Fredericks).
One year after launching Zen & Bloom, Yekesha had approached numerous retailers who could potentially showcase her skincare products on their shelves. After several unsuccessful attempts, she finally received an opportunity to feature her products in a retail setting. Securing her spot at The Sistah Shop in Elizabeth, New Jersey was a testament that consistency, hard work, and faith could lead to immeasurable success.
A year later, Zen & Bloom was selected to be a part of an additional groundbreaking opportunity, being chosen for another consignment opportunity at The Sistah Shop’s second location in Atlanta, GA. Yekesha says this is to date, one of her proudest moments in business as she has gained invaluable experience since joining us as a consignment vendor.
To remain current with skincare industry trends and developments, Zen & Bloom engages in ongoing market research, analyzing consumer insights, and closely monitoring changes in ingredient-related industry practices. Zen & Bloom’s dedication to their customers drives them to exclusively source ingredients from suppliers who prioritize skin-friendly, plant-based approaches, ingredient transparency, fair-trade practices, and social and corporate responsibility. These practices have shaped their business strategies, helping them develop innovative skincare products, customize their marketing communication, and provide impactful solutions that cater to their customer demands.
Maintaining a strong support network both personally and professionally, Yekesha has cultivated powerful bonds with mentors, friends/family, colleagues, and other Sistahpreneurs in her industry. She says these relationships have been crucial to her and her brand’s success. Ultimately, it takes a village.
“In our minds, we often develop the notion that tangible resources are the only essentials for running a successful business. While they hold importance and are necessary, I encourage you to embrace the mindset that your aspiration to build something capable of generating generational wealth is the most valuable asset you possess. You are the asset! You are your best resource. Begin with this foundation and construct your path to success accordingly,” (Yekesha Fredericks).
Yekesha defines success in her business as building a loyal customer base, delivering exceptional product quality and effectiveness, and making a positive impact on customers' skin health and confidence. Influenced by Max Maxwell, Gary Vee, and other entrepreneurs within her network, Yekesha is inspired by their mindset shift messages. She is also motivated and enlightened by The TSP (Traffic Sales & Profit) Community, The Convo, and Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Additionally, one of Yekesha's long term goals is working to produce sustainable growth, brand recognition, and the ability to adapt and innovate to maintain a competitive market presence. Over the next 2-5 years, Yekesha hopes to witness a substantial representation of true natural skincare brands, including Zen & Bloom, displayed prominently within renowned beauty retailers such as Sephora or Ulta Beauty, rather than just a limited selection. I know I can't wait to get me some Zen & Bloom Passion Fruit body oils at Ulta, the aroma is unmatched!
With that being said, we owe it to ourselves to work towards living a more sustainable lifestyle without compromising the support for our Sistahs in Business.
Shop your favorite skincare brand Zen & Bloom Co. below!