How Erim Kaur Founded A 6-Figure Business At 25

Aug 03, 2020

How Erim Kaur Founded A 6-Figure Business At 25

Exclusive with the CEO of ByErim

Created by the author — original image on @Erim

Erim Kaur says her ‘product runs through her veins’. After sitting down to interview her, I left thoroughly convinced. Don’t look at her 190k Instagram followers and think she had it easy because it’s as if her whole life was leading her to the launch of ByErim.

Sadly, she lost her mother to cancer when she was 8 years old. With no sisters or close female relatives, she felt this loss deeply while growing up. Luckily, she bonded with her grandmother, and together they created in the kitchen what is now the successful hair oil ByErim. The memories of her mother’s luscious long hair drove her to experiment for 10 years to get the perfect formula.

For years she used this herself but built a massive following promoting other people’s brands. The entrepreneur inside her knew selling her own product was the most effective way to use her reach. There’s wasn’t a second of hesitation in what product that would be. It’s rated 4.8 out of 5 stars and she needs to keep increasing capacity to deal with the flood of orders.

Here are the key things other entrepreneurs can learn from her journey, she especially wants to inspire other young women.

Forge a clear identity from the start

Everyone wants to create a social media following right now and Erim’s sisterhood growth keeps accelerating. There are many young, South Asian women in the niche of beauty and style, so what does she think makes her stand out?

“I started with a purpose and a really specific subject so I wasn’t competing on the same terms as everyone else”. For her, the idea of sisterhood was important, all her messaging is around this concept. She wants to be the big sister she never had to all the other girls growing up how she did. All her pictures lean on this theme and her defining feature, her hair, is featured in every post. It aligned with her public identity to market hair oil in a way other products wouldn't.

She says there should be no uncertainty when people come to her page, she wants to be someone her followers can trust. If you try to copy someone else’s style or energy, you’ll either burn out or be found out. Be clear in who you present to the world.

But don’t put yourself in a box

Erim posting every day with the same energy for years was the foundation of her growth. Yet consistency is only important when applied in the right places and in other cases, it can be a burden.

One of the mistakes Erim learned early on was not to introduce useless restrictions. Often we can overthink things because we are such a big part of our own lives. For instance, she had a structure where every third post was a quote. It meant her page had a pleasant symmetry to it but caused her many headaches. She couldn’t post pictures when she wanted to and the rigidity stifled her creativity.

Yet it wasn’t something her audience cared about as they were there for her rather than any gimmicks. It was a relief for her to remove the shackles and her growth certainly hasn’t slowed down.

Likewise, with her product, she doesn’t want to be the hair oil girl. She wants “ByErim to be the go-to for all your hair care needs”. If you have too narrow a focus, it’s difficult to then be taken seriously in other areas as you expand. Define your company by its purpose rather than one product. Google was just a search engine but its mission was always much larger than that.

Build your community first

Erim’s sisterhood has been critical to her success, in her words, “I don’t know how anyone would launch without it”.

Some entrepreneurs fall into the trap of creating something great then trying to build their community. By then it can be too late and feels inauthentic; Erim was helping people way before she had something for them to buy. She replied to as many girls who were asking for advice as she could. It wasn’t a strategy, it was a genuine desire to help. Ask yourself do you care about your customers or are they just potential revenue?

Even now she tries to reply to as many messages as she can; she got back to me within an hour of me asking to speak with her. For her first set of orders, she personally delivered some of the orders and met her customers.

Erim is quick to point out it’s not about financials and the support of her followers is what kept her morale high when times were hard.

What I’ve done for my followers is 10 times less than what they’ve done for me

Listen to your community

It’s one thing to create a following but another to actually hear what they are saying. Erim used her product for a decade before selling it to anyone else but she was careful not to get lost in her own bubble.

Instead of running expensive market research, she tapped into her existing connection with the market. She received immediate feedback from a large sample size while designing the branding and packaging. This is something other entrepreneurs could only dream of.

Some of her followers fed back the writing in the product booklet was too small for them. She quickly came up with a plan to put a label on the back of the bottle with larger text. Not all changes will be that easy for you but it’s key to ensure your customers know they are being heard.

Start off doing everything then delegate

Erim was self-funded and this was terrifying as someone who is risk-averse. At the start she was trying to do everything in a world she hadn’t been part of before.

She’s glad she did it this way because while it was stressful, it gave her a complete understanding of all parts of her business. It allows her to better estimate how much time and effort all the different moving parts need.

Know what you are bad at and what you are good at

By doing all these jobs, it became clear where she should focus her time. When she launched she was a one-woman-band but a few months later she has 2 full-time members and 10 part-time employees. Trust was the most deciding factor in every hire.

Proactively stand for something

We know consumers are much savvier in modern times. Yet I know I’m tired of brands advertising their credentials only to leap on something in the news. Erim has taken care to ensure her brand means something from the very start. She has 3 questions she asks every supplier:

  • What percentage of the workforce is female?
  • What percentage comes from minority backgrounds?
  • What are their plans to go carbon neutral?

She was delighted to tell me she is talking with a warehouse which will be amongst the first to be carbon neutral in the UK. When her brand claims to be ethical and cruelty-free, she knows she is bulletproof.

If you’re going to claim to care about more than profits then be prepared to back it up. Ask yourself what questions you can ask your suppliers to help you determine this. Be proactive, not reactive.

Prove everyone wrong

It’s sad that in 2020, Erim still had to fight to be taken seriously by partners. They see a young, good-looking, South Asian woman and don’t think she knows what she is talking about. They’d be wrong of course, Erim has a 1st Class Degree in Business from the University of Manchester.

Her way to deal with this was to target face-to-face meetings where she could change their perception with her confident body language. If you’ve got the charisma, stop trading emails and get in front of someone. If that’s not the person making the decisions, make it the person who that person listens to. In this sense, Erim aspires to emulate her father where “you can feel his presence before you see him”.

The day before launch day, she asked her friends and family to guess how much she would sell in the first 24 hours of her soft launch. Her own guess was 20 bottles and the highest guess was her dad’s 150. She sold out all 250 bottles on day one. Since then every new batch is selling faster than she could have hoped for. Believe in yourself.


The future looks bright for Erim and she has plans to expand internationally and break into other demographics outside her stronghold. Yet she also wants to inspire other entrepreneurs and in her words:

“Do it for the girls”
  • Forge a clear identity from the start
  • But don’t trap yourself in a cage
  • Build your community first
  • Listen to that community
  • Proactively stand for something
  • Prove everyone wrong

If you’d like to collaborate with Erim, email her at [email protected].

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