[4 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday all! As outdoor dining, shops and beauty salons open up again here in the U.K., there are so many reasons to celebrate. To add more joy to your week, we have a fabulous new Friday Founder interview for you!
We are so excited to welcome Ozohu Adoh, Epara Skincare Founder, to our virtual sofa. Epara Skincare is a luxury skincare brand for women of colour that literally means “to cocoon oneself” in the Nigerian dialect of Ebira.
In our interview, Ozohu reveals why she started Epara, why she believes the key to success is more simple it appears and, what inspires her. So get yourself cosy, pour yourself a cup of coffee, here comes your Friday inspo...
"I had been suffering from a skin disorder which was proving very difficult to diagnose by the experts. I started to experiment with African oils and butters and happened across a formulation that worked for me."
Welcome Ozohu! We are so happy to chat to you today. Let’s start with your childhood: do you think it has influenced you in terms of your career trajectory and where you are today?
Thanks for having me! Well, I grew up in a big family in a university town. From a young age, we were encouraged to be very curious. My mum also took grooming very seriously and would never let me leave the house with ashy skin. I absolutely had to have my skin moisturised.
I love that! My mother was also very big on personal grooming. So, how did you get started in the beauty industry?
By accident really! I had been suffering from a skin disorder which was proving very difficult to diagnose by the experts. I started to experiment with African oils and butters and happened across a formulation that worked for me. Then, friends of mine started to notice the improvement of my skin and requested some of the formulation. It was them who suggested that I commercialise the product.
Wow! So Epara Skincare was born out of necessity really! Was the timing important?
I started working on Epara Skincare in 2014 but we didn’t launch until 2017. The timing was crucial. There was a confluence of factors that made the launch of this type of niche brand timely. Firstly, people began to appreciate their natural beauty more, so there was a move towards products that celebrated people’s authenticity. Secondly, there was not much on offer for this underserved segment of the market, and thirdly, there was a general realisation that we were becoming overexposed to chemicals and needed to look towards more naturally-derived products.
I completely agree. In the past couple of years, the beauty industry has seen a real move towards more mindful, natural products. Speaking of, how does sustainability factor into the Epara Skincare values?
Sustainability is massively important to us. As much as possible, we seek to avoid materials that degrade the environment. We also look at the provenance of the ingredients we use in our products to ensure that they are sustainably derived and those who are involved in the process are not exploited.
It is refreshing to hear you talk about the individual elements. So many people think that sustainability is just one thing but it’s not. Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
Absolutely! People have become more aware of some of the deleterious effects of chemicals and compounds in products.
I agree. It has been a gradual but vital awakening for us all. Moving onto the business aspect of Epara Skincare, what were your biggest challenges in starting up the brand?
The biggest challenge was securing funding. I think that is a huge challenge for any small business starting out. The next challenge we faced was expanding distribution.
And what strategies do you think have been key to the success of Epara Skincare?
In the end, I think it is quite simple, although it often seems complicated. Acquire the expertise you lack, prepare to be incredibly resilient as often the things you plan for will not go your way, and finally, celebrate and build on small wins.
"The idea that I may be making just a little difference to how someone views their skin is my ultimate inspiration."
You are so right! I think we already know what the keys to success are deep down; it is the execution that is difficult and varies for each of us. What is your favourite thing about your job?
The autonomy, which is also a double-edged sword.
How interesting! It can be a lot of pressure to be independent and in control. Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
My days are so varied. It seems no day is typical anymore!
Especially during the pandemic, I'll bet! Would you say you are able to have a work/life balance?
To a certain extent, yes. Typically, it is extremely hard in the early stages of a business to have a work/life balance, but it is something I am always striving to attain.
That is a good goal to have. And what is your Epara Skincare hero product?
The Brightening Night Balm is my favourite for its versatility.
It looks absolutely gorgeous! What do you think makes Epara Skincare stand out?
Our attention to detail and the care we put into every bit of the process makes us stand out. It definitely shines through in the final product.
Absolutely! Do you have a favourite “pinch-me” moment that you have experienced since starting Epara Skincare?
Honestly, world-class retailers wanting to work with me has been pretty unbelievable!
How wonderful! That must be a great feeling. So, what inspires you?
The idea that I may be making just a little difference to how someone views their skin is my ultimate inspiration.
What words do you live by?
Tomorrow is another day!
I say that to myself too! Finally, what is in the pipeline for Epara Skincare?
A few exciting launches later this year.