Vinita’s love affair with the University of the West Indies began when she pursued the N1 Mathematics programme. However, her love for anatomy lead to her enrollment in the Doctor of Dentistry programme in 2016, as a full time student. In her time thus far, Vinita has soared through many activities and roles on campus including academics, a beauty pageant and in her recent administrative role in the UWI Entrepreneurial Society.
In this post, Vinita will share a bit about her life as a student and a studentrepreneur!
What was one of your most memorable moments on campus?
I believe I have many that my memory won’t permit me to recall, but my time as a delegate in the Miss Mount Hope 2017 pageant does stand out. It was a wonderful learning experience for which I am grateful. Another moment was taking part in the Things TT Market in April 2016 as a vendor, I fell in love at once. Things TT markets are very well organized, the vibe is great and the people are really cool. Keep up the great work Things TT team.
In what year did you start your business?
I started business in 2015 under the name Homemade Lip Treats.
What inspired this decision?
It started when I was in form 3 selecting subjects, I wanted to do business because the subjects intrigued me but I chose Sciences, having had more experience with it. However, my love for business grew even stronger when I was selected (at first) against my will to study Economics for CXC. Best. Subject. Ever. Anyways, I had some serious lip trouble (chapped lips) back in form five… I’m talking lips like the Sahara desert, sand paper lips…didn’t help that my lips were already naturally thin and had lines either.. (Sorry for the visuals guys, I’ll get to the point, I promise.)
Nothing I tried worked, bought lots of lip balm but that only had a very short lived effect. Then I learnt of the gimmick in store bought chapsticks, they were formulated with ingredients to only give your lips a nice appearance on the outside, and did little to nothing to solve the problem on the inside. I’ve always believed in solving a problem at its root, so off Vin went, in search for the perfect remedy to sand paper lips.
After the long haul, I believed I found it. Alas. The magic ingredients! How could I not share this with the world? It would be selfish of me to not share… So I bought everything, ventured into my Aajee’s (Aajee hindi word for Father’s Mother/Grandmother) kitchen and concocted my VERY FIRST, all natural lip balm. For some reason I got it right the first time. I broke off the lipstick from one of my least favorite lipsticks and cleaned out the tube just so that I could use it for my new lip balm. Ever since that day, I have never used another lip balm on my lips.
Moral of the Story: This epiphany led me to wanting to share my creation with the world. 😀
What’s been the easiest part in running your business?
Making my products, I enjoy the process and the end result is just the icing on the cake.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered doing business in Trinidad and Tobago?
I’ve actually overcome so many challenges since starting this business, but the biggest would be getting over my own insecurities, that voice inside my head that says “You can’t do it, you shouldn’t do it, you’re not good enough”. If you have that voice inside you too, bruh, I feel your pain. One thing I’ve realized constantly though is that the voice inside my head that says I can’t isn’t my own voice, it’s a reflection of those who’ve told me I can’t, or I’m “too young”, “too inexperienced” , too “soft” and the list goes on. I know this happens to a lot of people, and all I have to say is that you know how you feel when you shut that voice out and you know how you feel when you don’t. The choice is yours, it’s harder said than done, but not impossible. Hang in there, you are strong.
What advice do you have for new business owners?
No one will believe in your brand/business more than you. The sooner you accept that, the less time you waste trying to make everyone love you, and the more time you spend doing things that people who are worth it, will love.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
Being creative to me is having an imagination, and a passion to go with it. I have a passion for my brand, Vin Natural Cosmetics and the products that I sell, so using my imagination to conceive new product ideas is what being creative means to me.
How has your field of study impacted your business?
As stated before, I did sciences at school. I was that nerd who actually enjoyed lab work. Especially chemistry labs because it was so hands on and I got to pipette reagents, titrate, mix, boil, crystallize, measure. It is from those skills that I have benefited from in my business, since the manufacturing process for my lip balms and other products utilize similar procedures.
What’s your personal mantra?
Everything happens for a reason and every problem has a solution.
At what age did you discover your fondness for making lip products?
Lip products have been an absolute favorite of mine since I was a little girl, we all have that one childhood picture where we have on our Mom’s red lipstick, smeared in all the wrong places on our face as if colouring outside the lines with a crayon… yup. That’s me. I was such a girly girl and proud of it. Pretend makeup was my haven. Also, at a very young age I was gifted a really girly book because it was so pretty lol, turns out it contained a recipe for chocolate lip gloss and of course your girl just HAD to make it. Even though I was little, I had my determination at my side to put together all the ingredients and somehow I did, it was cool that all the ingredients I could find in my kitchen. That took a few hours… then came the other hurdle of finding a container to put it in. I can’t remember what container I used, but I got my hands on SOMETHING. Then came the FUN and not to mention, MESSY part… making the lipgloss. I wish I had a picture of it. It was brown, liquid like consistency, smelt like hot chocolate and was very glossy, just the way I liked it. Little did mini me know that this was the start of something new.. a me that I would unleash a decade later.
Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to
The day I made my first lip balm. Creating it with my own hands was super satisfying, because I love using my hands.
What’s been your proudest moment as a business woman?
In the two years that I have been in business, there have been countless proud moments. But my favorite is always the responses my customers give me. When they say they love the way my lip balms and lip scrubs make their lips feel and that they’re going to spread the word, it brings a smile to my face and fills me with immense gratitude every time. Thank you, my Natural Beauties (yup, that’s what I refer to my customers as 😉 )
Which materials do you love working with?
Almond Oil is my favorite oil to work with, I love the consistency and the benefits, such as lip lightening, lip refining and deep moisturisation. Also I love my packaging. My cute little lip balm tubes and jars, I enjoy pouring my products into them and the fact that using my containers makes it so much easier to store and apply my products. It’s like a match made in heaven.
Do you have a favourite product?
I don’t have a favorite, I love all my products equally. But I’ve felt most accomplished about my tinted lip balms thus far. They are more pigmented than normal tinted lip balms and ultra moisturising. It’s the perfect hybrid of a lipstick and a lip balm, for those days when your lips need a break from harsh chemical ridden lipsticks, but you can’t do without a pop of colour. I am working on new colours at the moment, which will be available for sale at the upcoming Things TT Market. So look out for them at the Vin Natural Cosmetics booth. 🙂