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A Natural Skin and Hair Care Line Inspired by Natives of the Motherland!

Our melanin is magnificent. It protects us from the harsh elements and absorbs light whenever the sun’s rays dance unhindered upon our skin. Although most resilient when compared to that of others, our soma needs protection and care. We’ve all had our experiences with store bought skin and hair care products that didn’t work as well as we thought they would. Although disappointing, it’s important to note that this could be due to multiple factors including skin type, harsh chemicals and level of exposure to the elements. Recently, there has been an upsurge in the number of natural skin care businesses online. People of color have taken it upon themselves to learn the art of cosmetic production; shea butter lotions, tumeric scrubs, coco body butters and the like are flooding the market much to the delight of black men and women eager to take care of their appearance and general well-being. There are however, a few well-seasoned natural skin care professionals that have had taken the time to perfect their products for years. We found one such gem in the heart of the United Kingdom.

Irene Afari, 35, of London UK, grew up in Paris France and Hackney United Kingdom. This melanin beauty with a European nationality is a registered nurse with a biotechnology degree, but when she’s not out saving the world she enjoys the Arts and learning about new cultures in her travels. While in her 20s, chemically damaged hair led her to begin her own journey of healthy hair growth. Frustration soon set in however, because regular beauty supply stores didn’t carry the products needed to save her damaged mane and staff within these stores lacked the knowledge needed to advise her on how to get her naturally healthy hair back. This avid traveler has visited Ghana regularly and the wonderful natives introduced her to natural skin and hair care ingredients. Cocoa butter and shea butter have always been used and loved by generations of Ghanaian natives. Irene was so inspired that she began creating her own home made concoctions with these same ingredients, and this led to a multiplicity of accolades from family and friends regarding the natural look and glow of her hair and skin. This all fueled her passion to incorporate a more holistic approach to beauty care and thus she created her own hair and skin care brand, Native Nous. The name was derived from both cultural and spiritual ideals.

Irene’s love for the indigenous people and flora of Ghana =”Native.” (For The natives were her inspiration.)

A new found awakening toward natural and traditional care for the body, the awareness, mind, intellect and good sense= “Nous.”

“Native Nous represents channeling the practical knowledge of indigenous groups on benefiting from nature and natural ingredients. The brand’s ethos is based on sharing the indigenous beauty heritage and solutions by focusing on utilizing natural ingredients that promote healthy hair and skin.”

Here are some of the top picks for healthy hair and skin:

Neo Body Scrub: With its sweet coconut aroma, this exfoliating sugar body scrub is formulated with demerara cane sugar, virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, pure cold pressed sweet almond oil, turmeric root powder, natural vitamin E , lavender and ylang ylang essential oils leaves your skin feeling like new!
Afari Hair and Body Butter: This choice is specifically great for nourishing dry damaged hair or improving dry and rough skin. It has a smooth texture and light cocoa and floral aroma. Pure unrefined shea butter is paired with pure unrefined cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil, pure Jamaican black castor oil, pure cold pressed sweet almond oil, virgin avocado oil, virgin argan oil, pure cold pressed jojoba oil, vitamin E, lavender, rosemary, tea tree, cedarwood and yland ylang essential oils.
Smell the roses facial oil: A rose infused facial serum that works wonders on acne prone skin, scarring, inflammation or dry skin. Ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, pure cold pressed sweet almond oil, virgin avocado oil, virgin argan oil, natural vitamin E, organic rosehip oil, and dried rose petals.
Refine Facial Toner: This super- moisturizing toner is great for deep cleansing of pores, removing residual makeup, dirt and pollutants. Toner prepares your skin to receive a follow up moisturizer or serum. It supports the PH balance of your skin. All natural ingredients include: organic rose water, pure vegetable glycerine, natural vitamin E, lavender essential oil and citric acid.

This black owned beauty brand delivers top quality skin and hair care because Irene understands the unique challenges faced by men and women of color when caring for their unique afro/curly hair and skin care needs. She experienced these challenges herself. Her line comprises the most effective natural ingredients which are unrefined or organic. All ingredients are hand picked for their beneficial and nutrient rich properties.

Find these products and more on her Website , Facebook or Instagram. Native Nous is currently listed on several black owned business directories such as ‘Black Pound Day‘, and also our very own blacked owned business listing on Black Wealth Magazine!

These awesome products ship internationally too, so have a look at the product catalog and order up!

Upon observing the list of natural ingredients it’s obvious that Irene is serious about skin and hair care. Her mission is simple. She wants to share the heritage and tradition of indigenous people’s use of nature in caring for our beauty needs through her products. Think of Native Nous as envisioning men and women of colour who have healthy skin and hair and because of it, they are confident enough to embrace all that they are.

As with all businesses whether large or small, Native Nous has had its fair share of challenges. Irene is the sole founder and this has meant that since inception, she has had to wear multiple hats in order to successfully manage the various facets of her business. Imagine being the marketing manager, secretary, founder and manufacturer all in one! This may seem a daunting task, but Irene has proven to be one tenacious business owner that doesn’t give in!

Irene Afari, Founder of Native Nous

Business growth has been steady throughout the years and Irene credits this in part, to the City University London Launch Lab Business accelerator programme and her business mentor. There are no limits as she envisions her brand becoming a substantial player in the beauty and cosmetics industry. It will become a lifestyle brand, and she plans to market her products through larger retailers such as Self ridges, Boots, Superdrug and Wholefoods Markets. The Native Nous line of products will be sold in retail store chains where women can receive hair and skin care advice and product recommendations. If we recall how her business started, we understand why this aspect is of paramount importance!

At BWM we applaud this business owner for endeavoring to create charitable foundations and co-operatives in the countries where her ingredients are sourced in order to benefit the women and their families who produce the ingredients. This says a lot about her work ethic and appreciation for her own craft and people. She encourages other business owners like her self to carry out due diligence by researching their unique markets, keep an eye on the competitors and test their products. This doesn’t mean that one should procrastinate. On the contrary, begin where you are and keep moving. That first step could eventually create a multi-million dollar brand!

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

Joel A. Barker

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She Was Told her Business couldn’t work on an Island; Now, her Organic Line Comprises 4 Brands!

BY TARYN ST.LOUIS, SEPTEMBER 18th, 2020

Many Caribbean customs were birthed from the teachings and inspiration of our African Ancestors. Anastasha Elliott, affectionately known as Ana, grew up observing her elders use the most eccentric Afro-Caribbean concoctions to cure everything from the common cold to the most troubling skin conditions. Her native island of St. Kitts is a part of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, and is well known as the Sugar City of The Caribbean. The island earned its moniker because of its sugar cane plantations which were stationed throughout the island in the early 16th century. The island was formed by now dormant volcanoes, and is also known for its green monkeys and carnival festivities.

Ana enjoys being an island girl and often finds herself hiking through its tropical terrain and sailing the surrounding tranquil waters. She is also an avid reader, and this has been a significant aid in the research she constantly carries out in order to produce the most quality products in her organic hair, skin and nutrition line, Sugar Town Organics.

At the tender age of 12, this now 38 year old inspiring entrepreneur received some life changing news about her mother. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and as hard as this news was on the entire family, they all strengthened their resolve to provide healing through the very same natural remedies they had been using within the family for years. Sugar Town Organics was birthed once Ana realized the power that food had on regeneration, healing and empowerment. Call it an obsession if you may, but once you see real results such as those obtained when her mother was healed, you instantly want to help others see the truth behind the power of medicine, natures way.

The family – run business now comprises multiple brands, with products for baby and the entire family:

  • Yaphene : The core/starter line which comprises hair and body care products
  • Baba by Yaphene : A Baby Care Line
  • Marapa Luxury by Yaphene: A Skin Care Line
  • Flauriel Foods : The beverage, sauces, treats and vegan wine line of products.

Everything is made on the premise of food, chosen for their properties and what they offer the human body to enhance mealtime and to make daily living healthier for the family.

I personally visited their online store at Sugar town Organics, and from the colorful packaging to the beautiful logos, I could tell that this brand is inherently Caribbean! I was especially impressed with the selection of skin care items including soaps that were displayed in a variety of ‘flavors’, to include frangipani/plumeria and silk cashmere. As I wandered through the pages, I noticed a few wines that caught my attention. My eyes landed on Breadfruit Wine! How innovative is that? Needless to say, I am intrigued and will be ordering soon!

Sugar Town organics operates within Caribbean borders but Ana is now in the process of extending her market reach internationally. Selected products from the line will be heading to the USA for retail in October, so for those of you who live stateside, look out for this product line in a store near you! The website will also be opened to receive U.S orders with shipping happening through Miami. The logistics are still a work in progress, but with the present pace of this dynamic innovator, it is evident that Sugar Town organics is set to become a worldwide brand.

Ana has experienced her fair share of obstacles as a black business owner, from financial difficulty to persons undermining her concepts, and even personal issues that threatened to derail her and question her own ability. Ana recalls a meeting at a national bank where her hopes were dashed and she was told by a banking official that her business could not work on an island. She could have conceded to fear and heeded this ill-advice, however she persisted. She credits her strong family support system for her tenacity. They have supported her in any way the could from assisting her in marketing campaigns to driving her to far-away pop up shops. She is grateful for an amazing network of women who saw her vision and helped to multiply her dream.

“No matter what, I have always found a way around, over or through it. I must give thanks for this tenacity I inherited from my mother. Growing up, I saw her work hard and struggle but she held her head high and faced her obstacles with grace, grit and purpose.”

Anastasha Elliott

She shared some invaluable advice for other business owners like herself. She believes that there are many instances where we begin our entrepreneurial journeys at a disadvantage, however, if we are willing to do some honest and unbiased introspection, we will be better able to spot our shortcomings and improve. She also advised that it may be difficult to find assistance, but never give up! Help is out there if we just search for it. Finally, don’t be afraid to start small. “Take it step by step, we have a saying where I am from, ‘likkle likkle mek plenty ..”

I have just outlined some major positives about this black owned business, but wait! There’s more! Sugar Town Organics gives back! Once a year, Ana works with new startups by either mentoring or coaching. Her last mentee was Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope for Survivors of Domestic Abuse, run by Dr. Kit Ford Davenport of Iowa. Ana is quite proud of what she has accomplished over the last year in aiding female survivors of domestic violence to earn a living, become empowered, and learn marketable skills that enable them to chart the way forward for themselves and their families.  Giving back to your community while building your own brand may seem a daunting task, but it is with this ethos that we open our enterprise to universal blessings. With all she does, Ana still finds the time to educate her customers about the herbs around them and how they can be used. “It is a knowledge we seem to have lost in many ways and as an integral part of our culture as people of color it is important for us to rekindle this knowledge in each other.” 

Ana’s Mission as CEO of Sugar Town Organics is to engender a love of our blackness in our people by crafting products that bring out the beauty of who they are, encouraging them to relearn love of self and all it entails from our kinky coily hair, to our beautiful melanin skin. She does this one product at a time, one customer at a time. With her business acumen, tenacity and support system, I am encouraged to believe that going forward her black owned business will not only survive, but thrive!

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