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Sekai Muscutt, founder of Keeper Beauty Co., an inclusive, self-care-focused beauty company she launched in 2018.

Sekai Muscutt is passionate about beauty and skin care. She’s always loved experimenting with different products and beauty techniques like dry brushing. She loves to go to the spa when she needs some ‘me’ time.

But she usually doesn’t feel welcome in these spaces. Born with a limb difference, Ms. Muscutt says treating herself to a massage often means spending an entire appointment feeling awkward around staff who are clearly uncomfortable with her disability and don’t know how to accommodate her needs.

“It’s not just beauty; it’s my life,” she says. “It’s frustrating [to live] in a world that does not seem to know that I exist, or that I need things done differently. I’m always having to figure out how to do things.”

It’s that commitment to figuring out solutions that sparked the idea for her business: Keeper Beauty Co., an inclusive, self-care-focused beauty company she launched in 2018.

To Ms. Muscutt, it just made sense: “If I’m uncomfortable going to a spa, what do I do? How about I create my own home spa? How about I surround myself with things that make me feel good and create that space for myself in my home? That way, I don’t have to go to places where people don’t know what to do with me.”

She knew from the beginning that the company, which sells organic face masks and oils and tools like dry brushes, spa trays and bamboo face cloths, would have to be a direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand, at least to start. She and her husband had moved from Toronto to Kawartha Lakes, Ont. after their twins were born in pursuit of a lower cost of living, which allowed her to stay home to care for the kids – but that meant there wasn’t any spare cash to rent a brick-and-mortar space. There wasn’t much cash to promote the business, either, which is why Ms. Muscutt landed on Instagram as her marketing tool of choice.

Her social media strategy hinges on presentation – she has always been very strict about aesthetics, featuring the nicest bottles and product packaging, adhering to a cohesive colour palette, even at the very beginning when she was using stock photos because she couldn’t afford to commission original photography.

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Keeper Beauty Co. sells organic face masks and oils and tools like dry brushes, spa trays and bamboo face cloths.Shivani Sharma

She uses the platform to host regular product giveaways, targeting most holidays and following up with a discount code, so people who entered but didn’t win feel appreciated, and hopefully inspired to shop. And, she invests in Instagram ads to get her products into the feeds of potential customers. This strategy has been quite successful; most of her customers come from Instagram, and recently a public relations firm approached her about including her candles in a press mailer they were planning.

Her embrace of social media has even led to offline opportunities.

“I have found building actual relationships with other businesses on Instagram has helped me in a lot of ways,” she says. “I use the (Direct Message) DM function a lot, just to talk to people. This year, my New Year’s resolution was for Keeper to go brick-and-mortar. I didn’t know how, I was just setting an intention.

“Since then, people have approached me via DM to ask if I wanted to put my products in their stores,” she says. “Keeper is going to be in four stores, and it’s only March!”

It was this realization that inspired Ms. Muscutt to fine-tune her Instagram strategy. Initially, she didn’t want to be the ‘face’ of the brand, despite getting plenty of advice to post herself more.

“The last thing I wanted was for someone to use my story to feel sorry for me,” she says. “I wanted to build a business that I knew had nothing to do with me being disabled, and instead had everything to do with me as a person building something from scratch.”

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Shivani Sharma

When she saw how powerful that sense of connection could be for her business, though, she reconsidered. She has begun including sporadic photos of herself alongside personal messages. She’s already seen this engage her audience more personally, and has even noticed that customers who discover the company on Amazon will often follow on Instagram because they’re interested in learning more about the business, and the woman behind it. (Amazon’s fees are expensive, Ms. Muscutt admits, but it’s worth it to access the retail giant’s huge customer base.)

This constant experimentation is part of her approach to entrepreneurship.

“This business was built out of passion, not out of knowledge,” she says. “I didn’t know anything. Everything I know now I’ve had to learn from a lot of mistakes.”

Next up: Ms. Muscutt recently began offering customers who are shopping on Keeper Beauty’s site the option to check out using buy now, pay later service Sezzle, which she hopes will inspire more people to buy directly from the company instead of through Amazon. She’s also planning to expand her e-commerce business internationally. And one day, she’s going to open a brick-and-mortar spa where everyone can feel welcome.

“Sometimes it’s just because they don’t have time to go to a spa,” Ms. Muscutt says of her target clientele. “But at the same time, I’m also catering to people like myself, who don’t feel comfortable in a place where they may have to ask for certain things.

“It’s not just me doing it for myself, but for other women, too,” she says.

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