The first luxury skincare brand aimed at women of colour.
Established by Ozohu Adoh using 100% natural, organic and ethnically sourced ingredients derived from the soils of Africa.
What made you decide to launch Epara and where have you biggest influences come from?
I had been looking for a good skincare brand for myself but could not really get anything that worked well for me. After suffering some very negative reactions from some of the very good existing brands, I took a step back and decided to research and investigate what was good for my skin type. As a consumer of luxury beauty, I chose to present to the market something I would be proud to use myself. So, my biggest influence has come from being a consumer of similarly positioned brands and looking back to African ingredients to provide solutions for my skincare issues.
How long did it take to evolve from concept to reality, and what advice would you give to those looking to do something similar?
It took me approximately three years from inception of the initial idea to launch. My advice to those looking to do something similar would be to make sure they take the time to ensure everything is properly done - whatever it may be.
What inspired you to look to the soils of Africa as ingredients for your products?
I believe Africa provides in abundance; natural solutions for the skin issues we face and African botanicals are now being recognised as scientifically effective. This has come about as a result of more interest and research in the space. The fact that I am African myself also played a key role in reaching out to my roots to find efficacious ingredients.
Epara is committed to supporting local industries, co-ops and farmers where the ingredients are sourced from, what was the driving force behind this?
Coming from Africa, I understand and appreciate the loss faced by local makers and farmers by not being able to value-add to the primary resources. So, we seek to ensure our stakeholders gain more from the value chain.
Your first UK concession stand was impressively located in Harrods, how did you achieve this?
In two ways: hard work in coming up with a brand Harrods could support, but also, good fortune in being able to get the right introduction.
Do standalone retail units in the UK and other countries feature in the growth plan for the business?
At the moment, not yet, but we are lucky to be a young company, so we can respond nimbly to opportunities. Should it make business sense that we have standalone retail outlets, I believe we are equipped to be able to do so. Our current plan is to expand geographically and deepen our presence in the markets we are already in.
What future challenges and developments do you forsee in the cosmetic industry?
The customer is becoming more enlightened and the industry will continue to move towards personalisation. Being able to balance the tension between this demand for personalisation and catering to a more diverse customer base will prove a challenge for the industry.
There are a lot of conflicting views on the sources of ingredients for cosmetics, some brands believe in natural produce, whereas others believe it is irrelevant and only about the end product. Why are organic ingredients so important to you?
Consumers of cosmetics products are becoming savvier. It will become incredibly difficult to not be transparent with what goes into products. I am sure most people want to stay away from unnecessary exposure to synthetic chemicals. So, I believe if there is a natural ingredient that can give the result you are looking for, it is always safer to perhaps go with that.
What brands are you most excited by and why?
Fenty and Bobbi Brown are good brands that speak to me as a result of their diverse product offering.