Most 20-year-olds spend their birthday pampering themselves, preparing for a night out on the town with their BFFs. However, on Rose Brown’s 20th birthday the Birmingham-born entrepreneur could be found in overalls, hair tied up in a ponytail, painting her Pure Halal Beauty storefront.
The first of its kind in the UK, her shop sells only Halal-certified products, using the purest natural ingredients, free from alcohol, animal products or animal testing.
Working in the beauty industry was far from Rose’s mind. Her ambition was to go to university and pursue a career in journalism. Some thought she may have a music career, being the daughter of UB40 drummer Jimmy Brown. But music was never a consideration. Rose opted for another career path, one that would be a big secret from her parents and reveal the young entrepreneur.
‘A lot of people assume I could be Asian or Arab or something, so they presume I started my business because I may be Muslim, but actually I became a vegetarian when I was about 17,’ says the 21-year-old. ‘My parents are full-on carnivores, but meat just used to gross me out. While researching, I thought, wow, Halal natural stuff is really in keeping with what I’m looking for in a beauty product. There’s hardly anywhere you can get Halal beauty products, so I thought, I’m going to open a shop. You’ve got Muslims, vegans, vegetarians who want natural products; it’s really just about being able to offer people something that’s different to what’s already out there.’
With many face creams and beauty products using animal fats, crushed beetles and pig placenta and such things, it’s no surprise Rose wouldn’t be comfortable using them. ‘When you change to vegetarian,’ she explains, ‘all of a sudden your eyes get opened and you realise that in a lot of beauty products there’s all these ingredients you don’t think twice about normally. Often they have a lot of animal-derived ingredients; also dubious ingredients – chemicals that are used but are a bit dodgy. We’ve developed our formulas using natural products that have been used by our ancestors and are universally recognised for their benefits for health and wellbeing.’
Getting premises and refurbishing on a shoe-string budget, while studying for a degree all began at the tender age of 19. Rose’s dream was to find a store in Birmingham: the bold new shopping capital, known for its diverse community of cultures, was more than perfect. ‘When I knew I wanted to open up a store, it had to be in the city centre. It was going to be just online at first and then I found this little shop right in the middle of Birmingham, and it was absolutely perfect because it had been empty for years,’ says Rose. ‘With a little bit of funding from the bank and money we made from the shop, we’ve been able to self-fund ourselves and launch our own range of products.’
With great initiative, not only did she open her own store, she also launched her own Pure Halal Beauty line. After months of prep and research, the store opened in December 2010. To their surprise, her parents couldn’t believe Rose managed to keep such a big project under wraps. ‘A lot of people say, “Oh, her dad’s in UB40, he must have given her the money to do this.” The day before we opened, I told my parents. I was like, surprise! My dad was absolutely astounded.’
Rose plans to have franchises internationally, and Pure Halal Beauty across the country. Look out for a store near you soon.