On the 6th March, our founder was invited to speak at the Lean In event held by African Lionesses in partnership with Volkswagen.
Helen was asked to speak about Nebü and her entrepreneurial journey that got her to this point. This was a huge honour, leading up to International Women's Day on the 8th March.
Nebü was received with enthusiasm and overwhelming support and some exciting collaborations with other female founded brands will be sure to follow.
We have shared her speech herein for all those who weren't there:
The Nebü JourneyGood morning, ladies.I am a lawyer by trade. I specialise in professional indemnity litigation. I have a degree in Genetics. I am a wildlife activist. And, I am an entrepreneur. I create investment grade gold jewellery, with a cause.And, from this introduction, you may conclude that I am also one very confused lady. But, as Steve Jobs famously said, “you can’t connect the dotslooking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards”.Like many of my fellow millennials, I’ve had a few changes of heart during my early adult life. I started my professional career in the veterinary sciences, motivated by my love of nature and animals. I then switched to Genetics, following my fascination with the building blocks of life. And, as interesting as this was at the time, working in a lab wasn’t quite as glamorous as TV shows make it out to be.I then, once again, decided to change course to pursue a career in law. This was partly motivated by the advice of my mentors, but also my strong sense of justice - I wanted to give a voice to those who could not speak for themselves – animals and children.One year into being an associate at MacRobert Attorneys, the “safe, sensible and secure” professional career path advised by my mentors, left me feeling enormously frustrated. It felt like my spirit was slowly dying inside – a sentiment I’m sure many of my fellow entrepreneurs can relate to.You see, I had dabbled in entrepreneurship during my younger university years, when I started a tutoring company that would end up funding many of my travels and adventures abroad. But apparently the mature and sensible thing to do after my studies was to get a real job and obtain some work experience – you know, “to fall back on” in life.So then, what happened to my lawyer job? Well, I quit. More appropriately, I followed my heart and intuition. Mid-way through 2019, I started Nebü, a 24k gold jewellery startup – it is an amalgamation of all my passions and life experiences. It encompasses my love of nature, my belief in fairness and justice, and my sense of adventure, exploring exotic locations.Let me elaborate...I’ve never been an accessories kinda gal. But, on a trip to Singapore in 2017, I was fascinated to experience how the Eastern market consumed jewellery, specifically 22k and 24k gold jewellery, literally in tons, and with a key primary guiding principle – that of investment.I delved into the topic and what I stumbled upon was fascinating - the history of jewellery. You see, throughout the ages, the purity of your jewellery and the type of precious metal that it was made from, was an indication of your socio-economic status. Gold was made for royals, silver for the middle class, and so on.In addition to this, jewellery was also a perfect mobile store of value, should you need to flee and start over, somewhere else – as many subjugated cultures can attest to.So, in my investigation of jewellery, I learned that Western jewellery turns out to be a terrible investment compared to its Eastern counterparts, this being primarily due to the dilution of the intrinsic value – in other words, the investment value – by the Western, modern jewellery industry.My discovery led to the creation of Nebü – I created Nebü to return jewellery to its roots; to the roots of intrinsic value and of an investment medium.Then, I had always been involved in wildlife conservation and volunteering at shelters, and was always frustrated by the stigma that was attached to it, in that no one really knew whether their heartfelt donation ever reached the ones in need. I wanted to incorporate exactly that into the brand of Nebü.And then, it all clicked. I had finally found a calling that spoke to my sense of justice and my passion for wildlife and conservation. Nebü creates legacy jewellery pieces in the image of, and for the benefit of nature.So what does that mean exactly?What is NebüNebü is an investment -grade jewellery brand, with a cause. Our pieces are crafted from 24K, pure gold and we donate 10% of all our profits to conservation-based initiatives.Nebü encapsulates sustainable luxury – in a world where consumption and excess is the norm, through Nebü, we commit to sustainability whilst upholding a standard of exclusivity.And with Nebü, luxury and opulence does not need to be vilified. It can be used as a channel to help serve and protect our natural heritage.I launched Nebü in November of 2019, and while we’re still a startup and still in the process of learning from our customers to iterate our product, I feel proud of what we’ve achieved thus far - we’ve bootstrapped our business into existence; are growing our sales each month; and, in the process, have donated to fund the rescue, rehabilitation and release of captive pangolins.What I’ve learned along the wayAccording to Entrepreneur magazine, women only account for approximately 3% of Venture Capital funding. Kevin O’ Leary of Sharetank fame openly admits that female-run company’s are some of the best performing start-ups in his portfolio. So why aren’t we women more active in the business world and why aren’t we attracting the bulk of funding? I’ll leave that to remain a rhetorical question.So, what have I learned on this seemingly long, yet short entrepreneurial journey:
- Be authentic – business is tough and if your idea isn’t unique to you or isn’t something that you believe in whole heartedly, it will most likely fail.
- Take counsel from those around you, but never in its absolute form. Be honest and distill what others are trying to teach you, but always remember that that is in context of their reality, fears and aspirations. Only you can run your race.
- Be active – gain as much feedback as you can, iterate and repeat. Complacency kills startups.
- Speak to your customer! Only in speaking to your customer, will you understand where to iterate and take your product. It is the lifeblood of your business.
- Surround yourself with people, or at least one, that is your most honest critic and your biggest cheerleader. In my case, it is my dear husband.I’ll leave you with this final story..In my previous job, after an altercation with a fellow employee, I was called in by the executives to explain myself. It turns out they wanted to use the opportunity to express their belief that I was (and I quote) “too much of a lone wolf”, “too aggressive”, “too subversive” and “not fully invested in the company”.At first I was taken aback, and felt quite slighted by this feedback. But after a while, I realised something - to be an entrepreneur at heart means that you’re naturally going to question and challenge the status quo. You’re naturally going to deconstruct inefficient structures, and push the boundaries constantly toward building a better future. Even if that truth is inconvenient to the powers that be, or does not fit a predetermined mould.I believe that in life, you’re either a lioness or an impala, metaphorically speaking of course. Both have their place in nature, but neither can fulfil the role of the other. Ladies, I am so glad that I have found a group of likeminded women, from whom I am sure I will be able to learn from and draw inspiration from - a pride of lionesses.Thank you for the honour of including me in your pride today.
For a summary of the event go to: Lionesses Lean In.