School girl drop out. To sales rep at David Jones. To top sales agent at an international skincare brand. To launching her own natural skincare range. All before the age of 23. Yasemin Deniz was born to run her own brand. Meet the charismatic founder behind Mikash Natural Skincare – Yasemin Deniz.
The Child Entrepreneur
Ever since Yasemin was young she has been business minded. As a teenager she was forthcoming with business ideas with her mum’s friends. They would say ‘you're only 15, how do you come up with this stuff?’
Yasemin believes she has a knack for problem solving because of her upbringing, she grew up in housing commission.
“I grew up with my mum. There's five of us. We lived from wage to wage. I remember we could never afford Tim Tams. It was 90 cents for a whole packet! We had to be creative to make ends meet,” shares Yasemin.
Her early years created a drive in her. She always said to herself, ‘when I grow up, I'm going to be a business owner. I’m going to control my destiny.’
She manifested this at a young age.
Yasemin's first job
During her high school years Yasemin was severely bullied. So she dropped out. The moment she hit 14 years, and nine months she walked out of those gates.
“I started working at Hungry Jacks. I couldn't believe that they were paying me $4.95 an hour. I thought, I can make more than this. There was a fashion store right across from Hungry Jacks. I walked in there and got myself a job,” smiles Yasemin.
Yasemin became a little enamoured with one of her customers. She would always come into the store so nicely dressed. She used to work at David Jones in Melbourne’s CBD. Yasemin had her questions ready every time she came in. She could see herself working at David Jones.
“So what was it like working at David Jones? Do you get to try on all the clothes? How old do you need to be?”
Yasemin’s friendly customer gave her some great advice. She should apply to be a ‘traveller.’ What that meant was that she would cover people’s shifts – if they had to attend an event, or they were unwell Yasemin would step in.
This sounded perfect to Yasemin. It meant she could experience all parts of the business. Yasemin was young, pretty and had oodles of charisma.
She got the job.
Yasemin had gone from earning $4.95 an hour, to $7.50 an hour to now $19 an hour. She felt like she had hit the jackpot. This role was made for her.
“I did very well in sales because I was honest. I would say to people ‘you know you really don't need that but you'll probably need this’ and they just loved that,” explains Yasemin.
The manager at one of the big international skincare departments had noticed her… “Every time you come here you sell like crazy. Your target is $4,000 and you do $8,000 or $10,000 for the day. We need you full time,” she proclaimed.
This department went through a massive process to hire Yasemin. She was still a teenager, so they had to get her mum's consent. She worked in this role for a whole year and generated close to $300,000. It’s here she began her love affair with skincare and beauty.
Oh no! Commercial skincare is full of toxins
Yasemin started to notice that customers were coming back complaining of terrible skin reactions. It’s the first time Yasemin started to ask the question, ‘what’s in these formulas?’ When she finished work, she would make a trip to the internet cafe across the road from her apartment block, and began researching online.
“I wanted to educate myself,” shares Yasemin. She looked up every single ingredient and was shocked to discover how dangerous some of these chemicals were. And that they didn’t just stay on the skin, they would make their way into people’s bloodstream. That's when the world of natural ingredients opened up to her. She was just 17.
“My mum told me stories of how my Grandma would make her own soaps, everything from scratch. She didn’t believe in buying things from the store. Everything on the farm would be made there,” explains Yasemin.
Yasemin was now in a difficult situation. She felt like she was living a lie. She made a decision. One day she was going to open her own natural skincare business.
A few hurdles
Life threw Yasemin a few stumbling blocks, preventing her from chasing her dream. She married young. While she was five months pregnant with her first child, her husband had an affair.
She gave birth to a beautiful boy. Sadly he became ill and eventually passed away. Yasemin was in survival mode, grieving, going to counselling, doing whatever she could to heal and find peace.
This story does have a happy ending. Yasemin met her now husband. Love saved her. She had a little boy, and when he was just 3 months old she fell pregnant again and now has a little girl too.
The beginning of Mikash
When her daughter was six months old, her husband developed carpal tunnel syndrome and couldn’t work as a steel fixer any longer. It was time for Yasemin to bring in some money. There was $500 in the children's account, set aside. Yasemin decided to use that to start her own business.
“I literally purchased three bottles to make a baby wash with minimal ingredients, just to get going. I started an Etsy account. Whatever I made, I sold and then made a new batch. I grew through word of mouth. It was my hero product, my nappy rash cream that got me to where I am today.
I’d only been in business for a couple of months when I noticed on social media a woman post about her daughter constantly having a really bad nappy rash. She had tried every product. She didn’t have a big audience, but I didn’t care. I decided to reach out to her and make her an all natural barrier balm for her daughter for free. She received it within two days. She was gobsmacked. She couldn’t believe that not only did the cream help with the diaper rash, it also helped with her feet rash. The baby had baby acne. It also helped with that. So she kept posting and posting the before and after photos.”
From there mums started purchasing. They would share their stories and that’s how she grew. She is known for selling out of her products every time she makes a new batch.
Yaesmin doesn’t really believe in influencer marketing. She thinks if you have a good product, it will sell.
Five years ago Yasemin started Mikash Skincare in her kitchen. She packed orders from her bedroom floor. First year of business she didn’t make much money, everything went back into the business. By the second year she had made enough money to help pay the bills, to buy things for her children and to begin some charity work. Today she has her own beautiful store in Brunswick, Melbourne.
Yasmin has strong beliefs about giving back. Even now if a single mum or someone messages her that can’t afford a product, she will gift it to them.
“I'm from humble beginnings. My business just keeps growing and growing. I'm so grateful for every single order,” smiles Yasemin. “So I give wherever I can.”
Today the Mikash hero products are still those very first products she developed – the Calming Baby Hair & Body Wash and the Organic Barrier Balm. More recent introductions – Vitamin C Serum, the I Am Radiant Face Oil – are proving to be very popular, and her new Retinol Night Repair Moisturiser is selling like hot cakes.
Sourcing the ingredients
“If only people knew the great lengths I go through to find and source my natural ingredients. I go above and beyond in researching how each ingredient is made. How is it grown? Is it grown ethically? Is there any child labour involved?”
None of the Mikash ingredients come from China. The shea butter is directly from Ghana, which is the best place to get shea butter in the world. The unrefined beeswax is produced by Aboriginal farmers in Jardwadjali Victoria. Yasemin shares that this region has some of the best farmers in Australia. All packaging is made right here in Australia, free from any chemicals so that nothing gets leached into her products. Everything is made in small batches at her lab in Melbourne.
Back to the entrepreneur
Yasemin is a true entrepreneur. She takes risks where others don’t. When her family told her to just work for someone else, she did the opposite and launched her business. During the pandemic she opened her first store. Where does this grit and determination come from?
“It comes from my mum. My Mum had it really tough but always just went for it, full of positivity. She raised five kids. And ran a family based daycare taking care of five other kids. That's how she made her money. She loved those kids. Today they still come over to my Mum's house to say hi."
In this day and age, it's so easy for people to just give up. If they don’t make money in a few weeks they pack it all in. You have to put in the hard work. I was breastfeeding, on the phone, researching on Google and YouTube on how to make my business more successful. I put in the work, I jumped on opportunities and kept my spirits high. That’s what I believe it takes to make it,” smiles Yasemin.