A kitchen hand-mixer isn’t usually associated with quality skin care, yet Amna Millewa’s home experiments have led to the November launch of her new business, Without a Blemish.
“Shea butter is solid. It’s like butter, but harder. Imagine trying to make eight, eight-ounce bottles of whipped shea butter using a cake mixer with only one beater!” Amna said.
Frustrated when the skin care products for acne, dark spots and dry skin available in local stores either bleached or dried out her skin, Amna started looking for alternatives. When she failed to find anything that worked for her, she started to create her own.
“I was constantly on the lookout to find ways to take care of my skin. It’s taken me a long time because I am not a scientist. I didn’t know about the different chemicals, butters, and oils. So, I had to do a lot of research and there was a lot of trial and error, but I really loved it,” Amna said. “I loved the whole process of product making and then seeing the results. Using oils and butters with vitamins that help fight inflammation and renew my skin without bleaching it like the products I buy from the market do. I’ve been on a mission ever since.”
As Amna experimented and posted photos to Snapchat, people noticed the positive difference in her dark spots, dry skin and acne. After sharing her creations with family and close friends, she began to sell her products to a slowly growing community of loyal clients—trying to make products for herself had turned into a small business.
“I have a Bachelor of Science in psychology, but that didn’t give me any business knowledge. So, I contacted the North Dakota Women’s Business Center to help me with the whole business process. I wanted to do things the right way. They really opened my eyes as to what’s involved. There were so many things I needed to figure out—finances, pricing and shipping. They’ve been so supportive, and I just love to learn, so much that I am changing my major to business,” Amna, who is in the process of applying for the spring semester at the Minnesota State University of Moorhead, said. Armed with a plan to scale up the production of her skin care products Amna next needed a business name and startup funds.
“I really struggled to find a good name for my business. None of the names I wanted were available. I even Googled my own name and there was a company with it already. Even my last name is a county in Australia!” Amna said. “Then, one day when I was reading the Bible, I came across the verse, ‘You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish on you.’ I just fell in love with that verse. It was perfect.”
Things continued to fall into place when she was subsequently notified by the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation that Amna was declared the September 2022 grantee. The gift provided by the group helped her with initial business costs, like purchasing equipment for batch production. After years of experimentation, she was ready to take her small business to the next level.
November’s launch of Without a Blemish organic and natural skin care will release Amna’s whipped shea butter, which she claims helps moisturize the skin, fade dark spots and improve acne on both face and body. While Amna has plans for selling other products she has been working with, she wants to start simple.
“I am so excited. I want to really do this and go bigger if I can—get a location and hire people. But I want to do it right and go slow. One person can have a plan, and then the future comes and shows you even better plans, so I definitely want to be open to that. I’m still learning.”
The Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a non-profit. Applications can be made at awesomefoundation.org/en/chapters/ cassclay