Elizabeth Davis: how I invented my own beauty products

Ex-engineer Elizabeth Davis formulated her own products in her spare time to gain an edge in the ultra-competitive beauty industry.

“As an engineer, Elizabeth Davis helped plan the construction of Porsche’s North American headquarters in Hapeville, Georgia, and was on the team that built the MGM Casino at the National Harbor in Washington DC,” says Elaine Pofeldt in Forbes. But when she wasn’t working on these grand projects, Davis, 34, spent her time on a more humble pursuit: her hair. “In a perpetual quest for longer locks, Davis would mix up natural elixirs and other products she made with herbs, essential oils and Ayurvedic products at her home.” 

Ayurveda, the traditional Hindu system of medicine, is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and applying herbal treatments for wellness. Davis (pictured) would test her recipes on herself and friends, and when she found they worked to her satisfaction, she turned her passion into a side business called Shedavi in 2014. Alongside her full-time job it took her two years to develop the product, branding, and to organise the basic things she needed for the launch.

She started mixing up products in her kitchen, where she made the first 1,000 units of the first product, a hair and scalp elixir. She brought in about $2,000 the first weekend after her product launch. Davis has since grown her luxury hair-care brand, which now also sells vegan products such as shampoo, styling products and vitamins, to a seven figure, one-woman business. Her brand gained traction quickly and from February 2016 to 2017, Shedavi brought in about $1m in revenue per year. Davis says the business has only grown since. 

By formulating her own products, Davis gained an edge in the crowded and competitive beauty industry. “The most important thing is to distinguish yourself,” she says. “Even though my products are natural and Ayurvedic, they are unique. No one else is selling my product.”

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