I am proud of my rich African culture and heritage. My parents roots are in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and emigrated to the UK at age 18.
Being raised around African culture and traditions gave me a a sense of high moral values and acceptable behaviours that has helped to shape my life.
I regularly visited various markets with my mum was introduced to local, natural ingredients and age old recipes passed down from generation to generation. I remember my mum and grandmother had a concoction for virtually any ailment.
I love discovering African inspired skincare brands. I recently discovered Okiki Skincare, a West African inspired skincare and home care brand founded by mother-daughter duo Ade Ogunsola and Antonia Ogunsola.
Natural, Organic, Handmade and Authentically Nigerian
Since 2016, Okiki run by mother and daughter, has been providing beautiful, handcrafted personal and home care products that demonstrate how much we love what we do and our commitment to you. We have now become a staple in the lives of those who value tradition, attention to detail and the bounty of the Earth.
I was eager to find out more about the brand so I reached out to the founders. Here is their story…
Hi Ade and Antonia, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to formulate your own skincare products?
We are a mother-daughter brand, my mum started this whilst I was at university. My grandma used to make soaps when my mum was younger, and after she sadly passed away my mum woke up on day and was inspired to make soaps.
She started to casually sell them and then continued to expand her range. We maintained and developed our relationship as we would go to markets together. I lost my job due to COVID and that gave me more time to help the business and bring it online.
Why the name Okiki and how would you describe your brand?
Okiki is a family name and translates to ‘prestigious‘. All the products we make is designed to stand out, hence the name prestigious.
Our brand is inspired by West Africa and we incorporate our culture throughout our brand. For example our candles are either translation of Yoruba names, for example ‘He Who Came After Me‘ is the translation for Akehinde and ‘Nana Yaa Serwah is a tribute to our Ghanaian heritage and means ‘female born on a Thursday’.
I love how you incorporate your Nigerian heritage into your brand. How did that influence what products you decided to formulate?
It influences the name of our products and how we base our ingredients. When you look at our soap bars they are rich in Shea Butter, Cocoa butter and coconut butter.
The idea of the soap bars is to be natural, not chemical based as back home soaps are made using ingredients we have at hand not full of artificial ingredients.
My mum once went to Ivory Coast to pick up a shipment of pure shea butter herself. The formulation of different products came naturally from soap as a lot of the ingredients are similar for other skin care products and my mum is naturally creative.
Tell us about your products and what makes them unique?
All our products are individually formulated and we aim to have a product for everyone.
Our entire range is formulated with West Africa in mind, we create natural, organic products with botanical infusions. Through the use of our traditional ingredients, we harness the power of Ase – the power to make things happen and produce change.
What are some of your favourite natural and organic ingredients?
Shea butter obviously, it is a moisturising butter that works for everybody and is an ingredient that is included in almost all our skincare products.
I love Calendula & Chamomile, they are healing and soothing herbs, suitable for those with sensitive skin. When it is infused in oil it makes a great natural colourant (yellow)
What challenges did you face starting your own brand and what advice would you give to aspiring beauty entrepreneurs?
Being self-taught means that there are a lot of trial and errors, and often the help you are seeking is hard to find on the internet.
Both my daughter and I are dyslexic meaning that when it comes to the marketing/label design things take longer and it is easy for us to make mistakes and not notice them.
Try and talk to other entrepreneurs who are slightly ahead of you if possible, it is a great way to pick up any useful tips. Know your strengths and weaknesses and how to utilise them. For example as mentioned we are both dyslexic, so we employ a copywriter to go over descriptions as well as labels.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since you started your brand?
Being featured on ITV’s This Morning’s Lust List. It was a shock to be mentioned alongside such big and well-known brands. We completely sold out of our stock of candles that day.
How do you balance your relationship as mother and daughter while running a business together?
It is tough because we have very similar personalities, so you can imagine the issues this causes.
But we have learnt to adapt to each other styles and work out when to cool off and talk about it later. It is hard as the business is expanding rapidly so things are changing daily and new challenges are being presented as well.
What’s next for Okiki Skincare? Any new product launches you can share with us?
We are launching a new candle called ‘Follow Me Home’ (Bamidele), with scents of rose otto, sandalwood, and orchid amongst others. We are also going through a mini brand refresh on our candles so look out for that this week. We will also be launching a few special edition soaps as well.
Thank you Ade and Antonia for taking time out to share your journey with me. I look forward to trying out your products.
Shop the products here www.okikiskincare.co.uk