Hellen Dausen wanted to be a professional model and she was serious about it. After graduating with a BSc. in International Business Administration and Entrepreneurship from the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, she participated in the 2010 Miss Universe Tanzania beauty pageant and won. As the winner, she received a scholarship to study performing arts at the New York Film Academy and the opportunity to pursue a modelling and acting career. But things did not turn out as expected.
“It was hard to get jobs and even harder to sustain myself while living in Los Angeles,” Dausen recalls. “I later made a bold decision to come back home with nothing to show for it.” That was in August 2012. After four months of soul-searching, she found the inspiration that birthed Nuya’s Essence – an all-natural bath and body care brand based in Zanzibar….There was no money for advertising or too many give-aways. But Dausen made sure that she created world-class products and gave excellent customer service, in the hope that early customers would share their testimonies with others.
Then, in 2016, as the winner of two business plan competitions, she received funding from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation and the Mandela Washington Fellowship. In the same year she was listed as on one of Forbes Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs. After the magazine feature, sales shot up and her client base increased. “That feature really boosted the Nuya’s Essence brand and increased our credibility.” Today Dausen has nine full-time and three part-time employees at three shops – one in Dar es Salaam and two on Zanzibar.
She now envisions franchises all over the world within the next five years. She must have faced some challenges? In the beginning, Dausen couldn’t get her brand certified by the regulatory board in Tanzania. “I have had many disappointments,” she says. She was urged to close her workshop simply because she didn’t comply with the standards. She then moved to Zanzibar where many artisans use spices and herbs to manufacture cosmetics and food products, and where the authorities understand the needs of small-scale manufacturers. There she quickly received the Zanzibar Food and Drugs Board certificate.