If there was a product that was made for pandemic times, it was antiseptic wipes. So it would seem that Nesha Turley, who already helmed Care wet wipes was in the perfect position to capitalise on COVID’s new cleaning craze. We met the former New York-based banker turned mum turned wet-wipes entrepreneur, who moved here in 2011, to talk about Martha Stewart moments, Tik Tok turns and how to hustle.

You were already in the playing field so making the switch to antiseptic wipes wasn’t a huge stretch, right?
It’s funny when your career doesn’t resemble your plans, yet you end up being exactly where you should be at the time. We have been in the wet wipes manufacturing business for some years now, but we were mainly focused on white label production for companies around the world, including the UAE. Our main product line consisted of refreshing wipes for hotels and restaurants, baby wipes and make-up remover wipes. In the third quarter of 2019, our R&D team had started developing our Care Sanitizer wipes.  Once it became evident that the demand for these products was growing, we shifted focus.

What were your original 2020 plans for the business?
Originally, we anticipated growth in the natural, biodegradable sector. We had solid plans to introduce a full line of environmentally friendly products, (including our natural sanitising wipes available now in the market) made from biodegradable, plastic-free materials.  But those plans quickly adapted to demand and we launched our line of sanitising products.

When you saw what was going on with COVID-19, what were your first thoughts?
Honestly, my first thoughts were “We need to get a hardcore product out there, ASAP! Because what in the world is going on?” As the information regarding COVID-19 was inconsistent, my goal was to create a product that I would be confident using myself. Hence, we streamlined our 70 per cent IPA wipes. We take them everywhere with us!

What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome?
The biggest hurdles we had to overcome were during the lockdown, as with many other businesses. Production was pulled to a halt and getting approvals for new products were proving to be impossible.

Who do you admire in the business sphere?
I’ve been in awe of Martha Stewart for as long as I can remember. The way she centralised her numerous ventures into one large conglomerate, is the stuff of legends.  Additionally, I’m highly appreciative of Sarah Blakely’s rise to success. Before Spanx was SPANX, she created a prototype in her home as she was rejected from numerous factories. That didn’t stop her until she found a manufacturer that felt sorry for her and decided to take a chance. Her hustle was unparalleled and it paid off in a big way.

Any companies you have been particularly watching this year as they adapt to the new normal?
I’ve been watching how BGX (formerly BlowOut & Go) has adapted to our new normal by adding products to its offering that are relevant in these unprecedented times, such as face masks, gloves, diapers and sanitiser, in addition to their existing range of salon quality products.

What social media accounts do you keep scrolling through?
I continually check @WorldEconomicForum throughout the week. In contrast, I follow ALL the meme accounts for a good laugh. I don’t like to get on social media without my meme fix.

Have you picked up or learned any skills during lockdown?
Do Tik Toks with my seven-year-old count? I recently started re-learning how to play the piano; I have been adamant on setting aside time to practice daily.

What has surprised you most about this year’s journey?
The words of love, advocacy and reassurance from our community. I always aim to think positively and with purpose regarding others, but even I didn’t expect the level of encouragement and support from my peers.

What have been the high points – both professionally and personally – for you?
One of the high points of being a female entrepreneur is being here in the UAE. In my opinion, the UAE has laid a proverbial red carpet to facilitate female entrepreneurs to shine. It epitomises women supporting women. I’m so proud and thankful to be among such incredible leaders in business.

What would you tell other entrepreneurs?
Stick with it! If you believe in your idea, don’t give up. It sounds cheesy, but it’s pertinent to success. I would also advise that in the beginning, don’t quit your day job. Creating a strong business plan early on, that includes financials and forecasting is imperative to future planning.

What’s next in the pipeline for you?
For the last two years, we have been in development on a natural, organic product range that we are immensely proud to bring to the market. This will include baby, make-up remover and hyaluronic acid wipes. We have done extensive research on sourcing the right environmentally friendly materials right down to the packaging. Our chemical team and I have worked tirelessly on all our formulations and we are very proud for it to come to fruition. Initially, our projections estimated for a second quarter 2020 launch, however, due to current circumstances; we aim to launch in January 2021.

The song that would encapsulate your business this year would be?
Can’t Hold Us
 by Macklemore or Till I Collapse by Eminem. These two songs are incredibly inspiring to listen to while hitting a deadline or trying to get out of the incessant blues due to common business setbacks.

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