After struggling to find herself hair & skin products that were suited for black women, Ibi took a chance on her dreams and began The African Hair & Skin Co.
In addition to creating sustainable products using the freshest plant based ingredients, The African Hair & Skin Co. pride themselves on producing products that uplift and support black women's health and wellbeing, rather than undermine it.
Below, Ibi shares elements of her journey that allowed her to follow and make her dreams a reality - and hopefully her words can inspire you to make yours come true too.
What were you doing before you started The Afro Hair & Skin Co.?
Prior to launching my business I worked in Television media. I’d been making my own hair and skin products for a few years alongside my job and I would say this was really where my passion lay. When my role came up for redundancy, I saw it as an opportunity to pursue something I really cared about. I’m so glad I took a chance on my dreams.
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Just popping in to to say hi. I actually don’t have any decent pics to hand, so here’s one by very talented @lukenugentphotography taken for an interview with @couriermedia a while back. 😎😆 Our community has grown substantially in the last few days so now would be a great time to get acquainted. Hello and welcome👋🏾. My name’s Ibi, I’m a seaside dwelling, maker of holistic beauty and wellness products that centre the needs of black womxn in a marketplace where our needs are often an afterthought. In a study published a few years by @environmentalworkinggroup. The results claim that 1 in 12 beauty products that specifically targeted black women were ranked as highly hazardous. The impact on our community is significant and damaging. Yet another way in which our value and wellbeing is undermined. Exposure to hormone disrupting parabens, chemicals with links to skin cancer and formaldehyde releasing preservatives that exacerbate skin allergies all feature. For me it’s unacceptable that the very products we select to take care of ourselves are the ones harming us. So to cut a long story short, I had long since felt that the products that were supposedly ‘for me’ were completely out of step with my own values. I created an award-winning range of green beauty products from my lil’ seaside kitchen that better aligned with my love of hair and skincare remedies, powered purely by plants. This year we’ll be our 4th year and, if self care the new revolution then I’m incredibly grateful that I can play a small part by providing well loved alternatives. #greenbeauty #pureplantmagic
What inspired you to start The Afro Hair & Skin Co.?
I moved to Sweden for work in my mid-twenties and found myself in a situation where I had little access to products that were made with my hair and skin in mind. I couldn’t believe that even then back in 2005 black women still had to struggle to find products suited to us. I began looking into how to formulate products at home, which opened up a whole new issue around what was going into the products that black women rely on. I knew that I could improve the standard of our products ensuring that what we use is effective whilst also supporting our overall health and wellbeing.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced being a black female entrepreneur?
It’s difficult to pinpoint any one particular instance for me personally that has been down to my being black and female. Of course those challenges are very real and do exist. However a lot of the prescribed or typical milestones don’t really factor for me because what I want to build will take patience and integrity. I have had to say no to a lot along the way in order to stay true to my vision.
What’s been the most rewarding moment of your journey as a business owner?
There have been so many beautiful moments since launching my business. It has brought me closer to a community so supportive in elevating the work of black women in particular. One of the many highlights in the 4 years since launching was going on stage to collect our Precious Lifestyle Award for our Skincare with my then 3 month old daughter.
What’s your coping mechanism or philosophy when things go wrong?
I’ve learnt through having my business, that good times come and go, and so do the harder times. Everything has its season. I try as much as possible to go with the flow, learn from my mistakes and understand that in order to succeed we must give ourselves the opportunity to fail. So with every failure, hopefully I’m a little closer to success.
What separates The Afro Hair & Skin Co. from other hair & skincare brands?
Our mission is to champion wellness for black women ensuring that we always have access to products that uplift and support our health and wellbeing, rather than undermine it.
Can you tell us about another business owner/brand who inspires you and why?
I really admire Maya Njie and the creativity that goes into her perfumes. I also love how she weaves her personal history into her brand. The scents she creates are completely divine too!
What one thing in life makes you feel alive?
I’m really fortunate to live by the sea which simultaneously has both a calming and very energising presence. I always feel more restored, creative and motivated after a walk on the beach, particularly on a stormy day when the waves crash inland.
What is one thing you’d like customers to know about The Afro Hair & Skin Co. that they may not already be aware of?
Many of the ingredients used in our products are sourced locally or from farms across the UK. We pride ourselves on creating sustainable products for black women using the freshest plant based ingredients available for better results.
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REBIRTH + FLOW a mantra to live by. A plant based duo to unearth your natural glow. 🌿FLOW our award-winning facial oil helps rebalance, nourish & protect dry, inflammed & combi skin. 🌿Our clay mask REBIRTH, gently buffs & polishes skin while cleansing & drawing out impurities. It’s #pureplantmagic 🌿✨🌿✨🌿✨🌿✨