Startup Diaries: 21 Years Old and Backed by a Dragon

Emma with former Dragon’s Den mogul Richard Farleigh21-year old Emma Agese shares some wonderful Startup Diary philosophy.

Its Our Vision at Agese oils to bring healthier habits to every woman’s skin and hair care regime. We make cosmetics that are good for people, friendly to their skin and their hair. Each product is carefully tailored to address the main skin and hair concerns that women face today, which includes dry skin, stretch marks, premature aging, dry dull hair, dandruff and a few more.

I strongly believe that every woman should have access to good quality products to take care of their skin and hair needs. Have you ever been prompted to stop and think about the effect a product you use could be having on your skin?

I got a humungous shock when I watched a documentary called 'Good Hair' in early 2010. Imagine finding out that the main ingredient in the hair product laying on your bathroom shelf that you use religiously could completely corrode a coke can, like magic but instead this was the actual chemistry at work. This was exactly what happened to me in early 2010. This got me concerned, thinking about the potential dangers and environmental consequences of artificial chemicals in my day-to-day cosmetics and wondering; there must be alternatives?!

After many sleepless nights in the Goldsmiths university library researching natural ingredients, I chartered a journey to India for 10 weeks.

I lived amongst women who only used natural blends, fragrance and techniques for their beauty regime. At this moment I knew I needed to investigate and share these amazing natural products handed down generations with the world. 

As you can imagine I was eager to get stuck in and create my own blends that appealed to the modern woman, inspired by these traditions. My first batch went to my mother and sister, my darlings (I teach 11-16 year olds, Friday after school, who I call my darlings), and a few close friends. Only after this small success, it hit home! Start a business. My sister who was then doing her masters came back home for holidays and requested she would pay me £50 to mix a few bottles for herself and her friends who had problematic skin.

I was flooded with “It works! My skin is so much clearer and oh the oils smell divine! Where can I buy them?”, Agese Oils Was Born.  

A year later, London Southbank University approached me with an investment opportunity to spearhead my business. Richard Farleigh the former Dragon’s Den Mogul also personally awarded my initiative and is now one of the inspiring people around me and my young business. As well as individuals such as Richard, who support my enterprise, I have recently become part of the “Rockstar Youth*” who offered to dedicate an experienced mentor to me, combined with a start-up loan for my venture.

Listening to right people who have “been there, done that” can give you years of wisdom, in a 30 minutes conversation. 

Was starting a business daunting?... Most certainly. Exciting? Definitely! 

Agese oils are 100% naturalI have never 'real' job, most of my time was spent interning, volunteering or in university. But what can you expect from a 21 year old? Some days thoughts still cross my mind like “Emma, you really think you can do this?!”, The chemistry comes quite naturally, but there are many things I had no idea about, like using Photoshop and the complexity of branding. Thankfully with the rush you get from a start-up, you quickly adapt and learn those unknowns.

The constant challenge that always looms in an entrepreneur's mind is how to stay motivated against corporate giants threatening our start-ups. My motivation is simple. I inspire myself everyday with the need to offer the world a smarter and more caring product, reminding myself that someone, somewhere made the big brands possible and their human capabilities are no different from mine. Remember my darlings? They motivate me, I want to show them that anything is truly possible, but only if you believe and act on it.

They too can be spurred on to be the ones who create employment and make a lasting positive impression in our glorious and opportunity-filled world. 

I am always so thankful to my parents who brought me up to believe in myself. Agese oils is named after my father, because being in a family full of ladies, one day I will be married and my name might reluctantly change. But I want to leave a legacy to say “Daddy, look, it’s the family name!” I personally think having the right foundation as a child was essential to the decisions I make today.

Growing and observing my mother enter the world of business and succeed in it taught me the little details to consider like, being very honest, keeping track of all expenditure, knowing when to be oh so nice and when to say no, you don’t cross that line. 

At twenty-one years old Emma Agese is the founder of Agese Oils, a company that specialises in developing and manufacturing natural cosmetics. Using blends from around the world that has been passed down many generations. She has received financial investment from London Southbank University and won numerous enterprise awards from inspiring business moguls. 

*Rockstar Youth is driving the success of the UK Government’s Youth Start Up Loans Programme. The Start-up Loans offer between £2,500 and £4,500 and free business training for young people aged between 18 and 30 who have a viable business plan. In the three months that the scheme has been live, over £1.5 million worth of loans have been approved, helping over 460 new businesses get off the ground.

Sign Up to our Newsletter

So you enjoy The NextWomen. Why not sign up to our monthly newsletter?
You get a Letter from the CEO :-), the chance to catch up with the best of our recent articles - and some extra things we throw in once in a while.

We try hard for smart reading.