Your fears are invalid.
While spending my allocated Twitter Time, I stumbled upon a tweet about some smart little girl, Darasimi and her mother. I was captivated by the girl’s exceptionally brilliant antics and of course her name ‘Darasimi'(which is dear to me).
Further investigation revealed the mother was no other than Oluwaseun Olarewaju, an organic skin care expert and startup founder
In this interview with Black Safaya, Mrs. Oluwaseun reveals to us how a simple search for organic skin care product has built a company that now has business ties with several countries including the Middle East. Soapbox.Ng, is Nigeria’s First Private Label Skincare Company.
Q: What inspired/motivated you to start soap box.ng? Why private label and not your own line of organic products?
A: Interestingly, I started a private label company because I was trying to launch my own brand of skincare. I just had a baby & got reintroduced to Shea butter & Coconut oil. So, I went searching for private label companies abroad who could help me manufacture it in my brand name. I found one in Canada that I saved my salary to make purchases from.
After 6months of saving time start up, the Naira had depreciated against the dollar, so my saved fund wasn’t enough for purchasing my private label products anymore. Incidentally, that was when the #buynaijatogrowthenaira campaign was on. I concluded that importation business would not cut it anymore, especially with our economy in recession. I needed to produce these products myself. So I did my research online and realized there were a lot of people who were looking to start their own brand but had the same challenges.
I decided to learn how to make natural and organic skincare products and provide that solutions for others. As for our own brand of products, we would launch a sister company soon that would be our own brand. We would go back to the initial dream but we would also continue to provide private label solutions to those who need them under this brand, Soapbox NG.
2. Who are your mentors?
I really look up to a lot of people who are doing great things and just learn from them by just following them on social media. So generally women who are doing great things in business both in Nigeria and abroad. Especially black owned business founders.
The person who inspired me to start a business however is Pastor Wale Adenuga. He is so inspirational and just very supportive when it comes to young people making a name for themselves and providing solutions.
3. How difficult is it to source for the materials you use for production?
It used to be hard in the beginning when I just started but after a few trial and error, it’s no longer hard. Our ingredient vendors have provided us with high quality ingredients since we started.
Also, any ingredient we are unable to source in Nigeria, we import them from the US. Sourcing containers have been a little more challenging than the ingredients.
4. What has been your greatest challenge and milestone so far?
The greatest challenge has been carving out a name for ourselves as the skincare Private Label plug in Nigeria. We have a lot more competition than when we started but that has been a welcome challenge because it just really puts us on our toes and make us so much better. We don’t take it for granted people’s faith in our brand.
Our biggest milestone is definitely this March, when we opened up our brand to international markets. We now work with brands in the Middle East , Europe and America and that is very exciting. We also launched our website to lots of accolades and support. Those have been two of our greatest milestones.
5. What are some of your values and business ethics?
Integrity is our most important value. As a natural and plant based organic private label company, integrity is a must. Our products must be as natural as we say they are. Our products must look like what we advertised like they would look like after manufacturing. We have to stick to natural, even if we get orders for bleaching products at alarming rates. We have to stick to our vision and mission to encourage people to use more natural and safe skincare.
We cannot because of money, derail from our mission. So integrity is very important to us. It’s what gives us repeat customers and gets people doing business with us over and over again. This also reflects on our delivery. We make sure you get your products when we said you would. We aim to say something and keep to it.
6. What are the major factors that need to be in place for one to start a skin care business?
The first factor is desire. Once you have a desire to start a skincare company, you are already half way there because desire will make you go the extra mile. You also have to have a mission. Why do you want to start a skincare company? What solution are you looking to provide? What gap are you trying to fill in the skincare industry? What is your story? Are you willing to research and learn new things?
You have to have answers to all of that if you want to start a skincare brand. You don’t need much capital to start. With as little as N50,000 you can start your own brand of skincare products.
7. Your twitter header has a hilarious picture saying, “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it on your skin.” What are the basics of skin care and things to avoid in order to have a great skin?
For a great skin, avoid too much exposure to the sun even if you use sunscreen. Limit your consumption of alcohol and smoking, drink lots of water, exfoliate at least once a week to get rid of dead skin cells that clog your pores and prevent skincare from working, use natural skincare products; avoid paraben filled skincare products that harm your skin in the long run.
Also, less is more. Don’t over use products on your skin. Avoid products that have names you cannot pronounce. Research the ingredients on your skincare before using so you know if it’s safe for you or not. Avoid alcohol based products also.
8. What opportunities exist for potential clients/customers in your business?
Oh my God. So much!!! Literally any superfood can be converted to skincare. From the Baby industry to the Pregnant/Expecting mothers, to Mature /Aging people…there are several nuches in the skincare industry that are waiting for people to fill, especially in the Natural Skincare industry. A lot of people are getting aware of the benefits of eating healthy and using natural healthy products on their skin.
9. How do you balance family life and business and how has it impacted your business growth?
As a woman, it’s just by the grace of God that we are able to balance everything. Thankful for a very supportive husband. My mum has also been very helpful.
Having kids will definitely slow you down. When I was pregnant with my second daughter in 2017, I took a maternity break of 3months. This affected my business because I hadn’t put structures in place then. Having structures in place in the business has helped make things easier for me.
10. Any opportunity for internship, referrals or training programs in your business?
We usually hold soap-making trainings every last week of the month. We are also opened to internships. Interested persons should send an email to email@example.com.
11. Routines for a great skin
Cleanse, tone and moisturize daily.
Exfoliate once or twice weekly.
Mask once a week.
You cleanse to remove pore blocking diets, you tone to restore the PH of your skin and moisturize to nourish your skin.
12. Give us breakdown of production and products per price package.
For more information on our products and prices, check our website www.soapboxng.com We have variety of soaps, body butters, scrubs, masks, face and body oils formulated to solve various skincare problems.
13. Advice for the woman entrepreneur afraid to start her own business?
Don’t be afraid. Your fears are invalid. Believe in yourself. Block out the noise, focus on your dreams. Have a plan. Strategise. Execute ruthlessly.