Why would you spend a small fortune on high-end imported beauty products that use your continent’s indigenous resources? Sounded crazy enough to Sarah Ferdjani (Niger), so she teamed up with friend Manoli Ekra (Cote D’Ivoire) to create Talowa, a natural head-to-toe beauty brand.
“We know we have that tradition — it’s always been there,” Ferdjani said. “We talk about the ‘organic movement’ — we’ve been the most organic continent ever.”
Half Arab and Tuareg, Ferdjani’s cultures are no stranger to natural skincare and haircare. Dates, honey, and pure oils are integral parts of recipes passed down from the women in her family. Inspired by these recipes for long hair and glowing skin, Ferdjani and Ekra began the research and experimentation process.“My bedroom became some kind of lab,” FerdanjI said. “I would buy coconuts, rose water from Algeria, and mud clay from Morocco.”
After product development, they hosted the first Talowa interactive workshop. Held in Ekra’s garden, they invited 20 women to sample the first packaged batches of Talowa’s offerings. Among the bunch were shower gels made from traditional Niger soaps, face scrubs made with dates, and conditioning sprays for chemically straightened and naturally curly hair textures. “We didn’t see it as a business at first,” Ekra said. “It was just for us and our friends and family.”
Ferdjani and Ekra offered personalized advice for the attendees and explained how Talowa’s formulas and African ingredients solve many beauty concerns. That night, they sold out.
“So that was the beginning,” Ferdjani said. “Now we have to be serious about this because we have women actually requesting it!”
Technology plays a vital role in Talowa’s future. Ferdjani and Ekra use Facebook to connect with customers and create an online community of diverse women. They provide consultations to those living abroad via Skype, and all content is translated in French and English. The “Talowa Girl Of The Week” features diverse women and personal style stories.
Ekra said Talowa represents self-love and strives to remind the community that something good can come from their continent. No need to look elsewhere.
You should be working with what you have to look good. Accept yourself the way you are.