Tell us about yourself and why you want to make a difference.
After completing my degree in illustration in 2016 I was disheartened by the barriers I faced when looking for work, receiving rejection after rejection. This impacted my self-esteem, and I questioned my abilities and talent. I gradually started creating logos and flyers for friends and family and my client base grew through word of mouth. This opened me up to the idea of entrepreneurship in a way that I’d always envisaged, creating my own line of natural products. I have personal experience with sensitive skin and conditions such as eczema, so this was my inspiration. Through a process of trial and error, having experienced many financial losses, I was learning as I went along but through dedication and many sleepless nights, I came up with a line of fragrances that I was extremely happy with. Essential oils have a plethora of benefits both physical and mental, so the added value is that they improve mental well-being which is so important, especially since the global pandemic. I was gradually getting my brand established Que Herba (Que Herba means What Herb in Spanish) when I unexpectedly fell pregnant with twins in 2020. I was really struggling as a first-time single parent of twin girls. My business was affected as was my mental health due to sleepless nights and worries about financial instability. I was racked with guilt because I couldn’t provide for my daughters. I eventually found a remote full-time job when they turned one but I was unable to sustain this and be the parent that I wanted to be to my little girls. I felt I owed it to them to fulfil my dreams and pursue what makes me happy rather than living in fear of failure. I decided to rebrand and during this time the idea of the Que Herba academy course was conceived. I created a course specifically for young people because of my lived experience. I want my girls and marginalised young people to know that following your passion can positively impact your self-esteem and change the trajectory of your life. I have two children who I want to protect and ensure they live in a world that’s safe, so I have to do my part for the environment. The Que Herba course will introduce people to natural and organic alternative products that will reduce toxins and chemicals in the environment.
How do you plan to tackle the social/environmental problem that you have identified?
A couple of the reasons why we have seen an increase in youth unemployment is because of employers' preferences for more experienced staff as well as young people being perceived as lacking in skills needed for work. The Que Herba Academy course is broken down into 10 modules:
Research and Product Development
Our participants will be learning each module in practice - having first-hand experience. They will use what they have learnt from the course to create a product that is for sale on a credible platform. As they go through each module there may be a section they prefer and decide this is an avenue they will like to explore professionally. They may decide they love all aspects of business formation and want to create a business on their own. As they will be contributing to our product line they will be able to put it on their CV and list relevant roles and achievements for job application. This will improve their employability and entrepreneurial skills.
The pandemic drove down life opportunities for young and already disadvantaged people. 63% of people asked said the Covid - 19 crisis widened the gap between the rich and the poor according to a study by charity Tun2us, with redundancies, lost work hours and increased cost of living pushing people into deeper hardships. The Que Herba Academy Course teaches our participants skills that can give them access to higher-paid jobs, develop a side hustle or even start a new business. They will also be able to make an extra income through the products that are sold on our platform.
As part of the course our participants will be either creating a natural soap, natural deodorant or natural perfume oil. When doing further research into the mass-produced alternatives I found that a lot of them have chemicals and toxic ingredients that are harmful to the human body as well as the environment.
A natural soap is better for the environment as the natural ingredients used mean there is no toxic waste going down the drain after a wash.
A natural deodorant is better for the environment because it does not contain triclosan, an ingredient found in most commercial deodorants. Triclosan is toxic to algae, therefore contaminating waterways and oceans
Natural perfume oil is better for the environment because it doesn’t contain chemicals, pesticides and toxins found in mass-produced fragrances which cause environmental damage.
How do you plan to make a difference?
I plan on making a difference by introducing a business model that not only gives disadvantaged youth the skills and knowledge to create a product from conception but also give them an opportunity to make money from doing so. I plan to make a difference by giving the youth knowledge that could increase their income in this current economic climate. I plan on partnering with local charities in Manchester like Manchester young lives and Greater Manchester Youth Network as they value educating the youth, providing skills for employability and helping them transition into adulthood. I plan on making a difference by creating all-natural organic products that contain no chemicals or toxic ingredients that are bad for the environment and instead use essential oils, botanicals and spices that have a plethora of benefits for both your physical and mental health. Struggles with mental health are one of the biggest problems plaguing the youth in Manchester and globally. Essential oils are an alternative and holistic approach to tackling symptoms of depression and anxiety.