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Life and Work with Amira Ahmed

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amira Ahmed.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
People generally want to be happy and feel their best. So when I started making body scrubs in 2009 it was because I wanted to feel my best.  However, my story goes far beyond starting a sugar scrub business. It was shortly after one of the worst financial disasters in history (next to The Great Depression,1929) and like so many Americans, I lost everything; my job, investments, and overall well-being. Everything around me was crashing and it seemed like there wasn’t an end in sight. The stress took a heavy toll on my body, triggering an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s. Suddenly, I had sensitive skin and allergic reactions to products. I was frustrated with the lack of gentler options for body scrubs in the market, so I sought out to make a body scrub for myself. I began researching ingredients overtime, coming up with different formulas that were compatible with my skin. Ultimately, I wanted a formula that gently exfoliated and hydrated offered a sensorial experience and would make me just feel good all over because simply put, Hashi’s made me feel like shit. It was this scrub that became a staple in my self-care routine. I felt better and sexier every time I used it.

I was sick, tired and broke – but the scrubs would keep manifesting in ways unimaginable. For one, it was the one thing that was all mine but I could also share it with others. I started gifting my handcrafted scrubs when I was too broke to buy anything fancy for my mom, sisters, and friends. Birthdays, graduation… you name it.  Everyone got a fresh batch in a pretty package.  Little did I know, it would become a hit with everyone who tried it. Secondly, conducting R&D made me forget the pain I was in. Lastly, regardless of my situation, I had the ability to be creative and start something even though I had some trying circumstances.

In 2010, I needed to get back to work and so I followed my retail roots, working for two big beauty powerhouses. I spent another seven years grinding and rapidly burning out.  My scrubs were never out of the picture. I just didn’t get to spend much time on them when I was working. I left my last job and took time off to really think about what I wanted to do next. I knew that sugar scrubs wouldn’t pay the bills and entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. I had a little bit of time, a whole lotta drive and supportive friends and family.

I finally incorporated in 2017 after I researched words associated with function and feeling.  Sugar Dynamite was born.
Sugar is the function and Dynamite is the feeling! I didn’t have a ton of money, a detailed business plan, any investors, a small business loan or even a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. What I did have was a really great product a little money and a lot of drive. I spent the little money I had on ingredients, simple packaging and more importantly in protecting the name. I knew that I needed to get people sold on the goop first and then everything else would come in time. While it’s important to lay the foundation of your business before you launch; don’t get caught up in the weeds because it will only hinder your efforts. I’ve been able to scale my business slowly so I can work at my pace (since it’s just me) while maintaining a full-time job.
I launched on Amazon in 2018 and went into my first brick and mortar store in 2019.

Today I work as an executive sales and marketing director for a cosmetics brand. My nights and weekends are spent working on Sugar Dynamite. It’s rewarding to work in two different but very similar worlds. I’m learning and being challenged in a way like never before. With Sugar Dynamite I’m finding more success in the gifting category, so I offer special pricing for bulk orders and soon to launch a “subscribe and save” program.  I currently offer 7 scents and will eventually launch more body products.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It was not a smooth road for me, in fact – there were many obstacles in the way that I needed to overcome. Take it one day at a time and know that work will always be there so do only what you can so you don’t burn out.

Initially, start small so you can grow your business but don’t be afraid to think big! Think of Beauty Blender. She started with one pink sponge that would not only disrupt the industry, but it would also become the most popular beauty sponge in the world.

Buy a bunch of notebooks to help you organize everything you want to do. Have one for marketing, your business plan, social media, creative, accounting, etc… that way you are able to layer on the ideas and tasks without causing so much crossover and it will keep you organized.

Tell your family and friends so they can wholeheartedly support you and help you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I remember when I did my first weekend fair. I sold out of all my mini scrubs and needed to make more for the next day. I came home from working the fair so exhausted that I collapsed on the couch because my body hurt so bad. I called my sister for help. She came over that night and helped me make and bottle enough scrubs for the next day.

Silence the noise and follow your instincts. Lastly, being unique and authentic is the way to go.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sugar Dynamite – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I created a sugar-based body scrub that evokes a sensorial experience and good feelings. The base of my scrub is made with shea butter imported from Africa, is fairly-traded, organic and raw. It’s not oily like other scrubs and won’t leave your shower floor slippery. I also use sugar that is free of bone-char and is imported from a fossil- free farm.  The texture is smooth and rolls off of the skin, rather than being harsh and rocky. As the last step in the shower, rub it on wet skin and see the sugar, butter, and oils emulsify to gently exfoliate, hydrate and lock in moisture. Added bonus, I handcraft each jar.

Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well positioned for?
Absolutely. More women are creating great opportunities for other women and it’s amazing. However, we are still faced with many challenges. Being that we are now living in a digital society, we’re able to harness our voices and leverage our networks to create opportunities for ourselves.

Pricing:

  • Special pricing available on bulk orders
  • 4 oz. Travel (try-me) size – buy 3 get one free (use code LUCKY4) at checkout
  • Special pricing offers available on Amazon

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.sugardynamite.com
  • Phone: 424-290-1440
  • Email: amira@sugardynamite.com
  • Instagram: @sugardynamite
  • Facebook: Sugar Dynamite
  • Twitter: SugarDynamiteLA
  • Other: @xoamiraahmed (personal IG)

Image Credit:
amira ahmed

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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