Trenise Watson is the founder of Asili Naturals, a skincare line that believes true beauty comes from simple and natural ingredients. Through extensive research, trial & error, bravery, and hard work, she was able to successfully bring her product line to the masses.
Trenise struggled with sensitive skin as a teenager. Drugstore brands didn’t help—in fact, they seemed to make matters worse. She wanted to know why and began to research the ingredients listed on the back of the labels she was using. Many drugstore formulas, she found, contain harmful chemicals such as drying alcohols and parabens that serve no purpose other than to preserve the products as they sit on the shelves. They protected nothing but the brand’s overhead—nothing else.
These preservatives were doing her complexion wrong, and Trenise knew she could do better. She was going to solve the problem at its root—by eliminating the ingredients that were hurting her. That’s when Trenise began to experiment, removing these harsh chemicals in favor of more natural solutions. Through this trial and error process, she was able to find formulas that worked for her, using natural ingredients mixed up in her own kitchen.
“I did a lot of research and I figured, ‘You know what? If I eat a banana on a regular basis and if I eat avocadoes on a regular basis, and since they’re packed with antioxidants and nutrients, they could also be good for my skin. I did a lot of experimenting, and that’s when I discovered ‘wow, this makes my face look a lot better’.”
Once she made the switch to using her own concoctions, her friends and family noticed. Whatever she was doing, it was working. This initial acceptance encouraged Trenise to reveal her skincare secrets to the world.
Taking the leap
Trenise was working full time as a banker as she was establishing her brand. She started out by selling her skincare at farmer’s markets, but after she built a local following it was time to reach out to places that could amplify the reach of her brand. When her message resonated on a wider scale, Trenise decided to take the risk and do this full time.
“I got a lot of exposure with MSNBC’s Your Business, where I was able to pitch my brand in front of millions of people. Then I was on the Elevator Pitch, and I got a lot of press and exposure there. I thought that this would be a good time for me to step down on banking and start focusing on growing the brand. That was the turn for me—when I no longer looked at it as a side project.”
Help also came from her fiancée, chemist Moe Mukiibi, who helped her better understand the science behind the ingredients she was using. This helped her to create the exact recipe needed to achieve consistent results, while still using the natural ingredients from her original formulas.
Armed with the positive news and support from her loved ones Trenise expanded Asili Naturals to Outpost Natural Foods, Beans & Barley, Metcalfe's Market, and to her own e-commerce site. During this phase of increased company growth, her biggest obstacle is resources. She already knows what she wants to do, and she knows she can get there—they’re just waiting to get to that next step.
In starting her natural skincare business, Trenise found a passion that gives her never-ending joy and inspiration. While she gains some of her drive externally—from positive affirmations, motivational podcasts, and TED talks—most of it comes from that same energy reserve she tapped into while creating her very first formulas in the kitchen all those years ago.
Trenise emphasizes that her unwavering passion for the craft has been the most important thing to keep her drive going.
“Don’t be afraid to tap into that inner fire to do whatever it is you’re passionate about. Understand that it takes time—nothing happens overnight. Whether you’re at it for just an hour or for a full day, continuity is important. Just keep moving forward each day and don’t give up.”
Staying true to the original
As Asili Naturals grows through the years Trenise is adamant that the original brand philosophy remains the same. Simple, healthy ingredients to help empower women and boost their confidence naturally.
“I wanted [Asili Naturals] be more than just about skincare products. I wanted to give women that same empowering feeling that I felt when after discovering how to naturally treat my skin. I wanted to help women feel better and more confident about themselves.”