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Women lead campaign on sustainable Green Beauty

By Guardian Nigeria
13 November 2021   |   3:32 am
In a bid to increase awareness and ensure that more women embrace beauty products sourced from natural ingredients, The Botanical, Organic and Natural Africa (BONA)...


In a bid to increase awareness and ensure that more women embrace beauty products sourced from natural ingredients, The Botanical, Organic and Natural Africa (BONA) is set to hold its maiden expo aimed at reestablishing natural ingredients in Africa, which forms part of the nation’s tangible heritage.

The expo, which will actively engage and immerse the green beauty industry and its stakeholders, will sensitise the public on choices and the importance of clean and safe living while promoting thought-leadership agenda and positioning the green beauty industry in Africa. Ahead of the event, IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA spoke with three women, who are passionate about this cause and driving conversations on discontinued use of chemical-based products.

‘Skin Bleaching Is A Menace In Africa’
Cynthia Odibeli is the convener of The Botanical Organic and Natural Africa (BONA) Expo. She is also Head, Public Relations Team and Founder of MCE Media, an emerging branding, media services agency founded in 2015, after several years of practice in broadcasting and media consulting.

As a trained Broadcaster, Odibeli is now using arts, entertainment and media to help local and global brands tell their corporate and individual narratives. She projects that through her leadership at MCE media, which is committed to helping 5000 businesses by 2030 achieve their set awareness and market leadership goals. This she is achieving through her maiden event, The Botanical, Organic and Natural Africa Expo.

What informed your decision to conceive BONA Expo, with a special focus on organic beauty?
BONA Expo is put together for Green Beauty (also known as Clean Beauty or Organic) and Natural beauty products made in Africa, by Africans in the Diaspora and a select few international brands looking to gain entrance into the continent. This exposition was born to give the industry a collective voice and platform to expand, grow and regain global market leadership. It’s also about sensitising the public on better choices when it comes to skin and hair care against over-the-counter products.

Skin Bleaching is a menace in Africa and this exposition is saying, instead of buying hydroquinone creams, choose your cold-pressed lemon and carrot oil formulation; it’s a better result over time. Nourish your hair with products made from natural ingredients sourced from our rich African soil. I am very proud and humbled at the same time to say that BONA Expo is the pioneer exposition for the Green Beauty space in Africa that is skin and hair care beauty products made from natural ingredients – plants such as Moringa, seeds such as Argan, Shea or fruits such as Pineapple.

It’s amazing how this industry is the best kept African secret, the government across continent needs to pertinently look closely, to help with funding, Agriculture the bedrock of this industry needs to sporadically grow, without the growth of Agriculture your black soap or Shea butter whipped cream will no more be available. Our highlight vendor countries include Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, the UK, Canada and USA. We hope to torchlight the quacks parading under the name Organic and Natural yet infusing harmful chemicals in their products. They’re welcome to the Expo to unlearn the old practices through our several Masterclasses.

You are passionate about helping entrepreneurs grow and expand their reach, how are you achieving this?
The ability to look at a brand and step into the ownership shoes has played the role. I think, if this was my business, how best would I push and how far with my expertise? This is what we do; looking at a brand’s blueprint, letting them know that the vision is small compared to the narrative we are about to push. We all need help, no matter who we are and sometimes we need people to remind us who we truly are. Summarily, passion rolled into burgeoning capacity is what has enabled us to help brands and organisations in the best way we can.

As a broadcaster and founder of a branding and PR Agency, how are you leveraging on your experiences to drive this Expo?
As we always tell clients, have a beautiful and workable product, and then service and awareness will be easy. BONA Expo is a beautiful and integral exposition to the growth of the continent and Nigeria. Feedback from local, Pan-African and international media platforms have been encouraging; we did a media plan to extend that far, leveraging on existing relationships. Our message is simple, let’s build this industry and her major stakeholder, agriculture; we need all hands on deck for support.

What stands the BONA Expo out?
Beauty products made from natural ingredients are safe and the only option, that’s what stands BONA Expo out. It’s an expo separating the wheat from the chaff. You can take my word to the bank that the only products you’ll find there are of the highest quality-verified and certified by regulatory bodies all over the world, presiding over this industry. It’s an expo targeted at educating and empowering several youths waiting on unsure jobs; they can attend the Masterclasses and enrol for courses to begin their own beauty brands. It’s the perfect platform for agriculture farmers to meet potential clients.

‘There’s A Distinction Between Natural And Organic’
Joycee Awosika is Nigeria’s correspondent for BONA Expo. She is the founder of Oríkì, an award-winning farm to skin and wellness in Nigeria with a global reach. Awosika started her journey building Oríkì as a formulator and has certificates and diplomas in skincare formulation. She is a passionate advocate of utilising natural ingredients locally sourced from the resource-rich continent of Africa and transforming them into potent and efficient personal grooming products.

Joycee Awosika

Under her leadership, Oríkì has developed and formulated 39 all-natural botanically based high performing products through its manufacturing division comprising of a team of botanists, cosmetic scientists, and skin-care formulators. Awosika’s vision is to continue to democratise wellness by creating results-driven spa-grade products and spa experiences designed to restore and rejuvenate individuals.

You recently opened ORIKI training institute, how important is it to the skin care and wellness industry, especially for women?

THE Oriki Training Institute (OTI) is committed to supporting spa, wellness businesses and industry professionals across Africa by providing training, job creation, empowering women in Lagos State, Nigeria and Africa as well as providing consultancy services and influencing industry standards. Through OTI, we are transforming lives, providing economic opportunities for people and democratising wellness.

In this industry, the gender divide is usually 70 per cent female practitioners, therefore women are largely impacted and usually the first partakers. Additionally, the Oríkì franchise, which gives individuals across the world, the opportunity to own an Oríkì Spa or become a mobile spa therapist and partake in $128 billion wellness industry will greatly impact females who will benefit from taking a piece of this fast-growing business.

What is your role at the BONA Expo and why did you choose to be a part of it?
At BONA Expo, there will be two roles for my company and I. Oriki groups manufacturing division will be actively participating in the conference, while I was a Nigeria correspondent, I will be engaging with the Green Beauty Industry and its stakeholders to add value and push the agenda.

My role as a correspondent is also to sensitise the public on the botanical, organic and natural industry, and the need to consider sustainability and clean beauty. One of my personal passions in line with Bona Expo is to also advocate and push the plethora of natural ingredients as a part of tangible African heritage, therefore, driving and creating policies to its effect.

How affordable and accessible is organic skincare products in Nigeria?
There’s a distinction between natural and organic. Natural skincare is everywhere, however, organic requires a certification that very few companies have in Nigeria. The good news is that more and more consumers are demanding quality natural ingredients and products thereby making them more accessible and the prices are comparable to anywhere in the world. I hope to see more consumers adopt this way of life as it is a healthier way and more sustainable way.

A Large Percentage Of Green Beauty Brands All Over The World Are Female-Owned’
Oyéta Kokoroko is the Canadian representative for the BONA Expo. She is the founder of Okoko Cosmétiques brand in the vibrant city of Vancouver, Canada. She holds Diplomas in skincare formulation, cosmetic science, anti-ageing skincare and is passionate about innovation in the green arena, Research and Development, results-driven, sustainable skincare. Kokoroko’s vision creates sophisticated and multi-purpose skincare that hits all the high notes, high-performance, luxurious, finely made and cruelty-free. She also aims to empower fellow entrepreneurs through her business master class and mentorship to help to start beauty entrepreneurs succeed in the natural beauty industry.

Oyeta Kokoroko

What informed your cosmetic brand and how are you delivering your mandate, especially for women?
IT is amazing how purpose is birth through pain and trying times. I was at one time stricken with a medical condition that mimicked the symptoms of juvenile arthritis and also had skin problems. I had to seek alternative healing methods (naturopathic programme) after traditional medical treatments failed.

My holistic journey resuscitated my health and led to the launch of my green beauty brand, Okoko Cosmétiques. Since we launched in 2016, with face masks, facial serum and a beauty balm, our brand based in Vancouver have expanded her products to about fifteen serving women all over from the United States, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Macau, Hong Kong and its home market.

What sets an organic skincare brand out and how will the BONA Expo further enhance this?
An organic skincare must be true to its meaning and can trace to its roots literally, which is a very good place to start. However, what we deliver at Okoko are advanced formulations. I believe and affirm without a shadow of a doubt that BONA Expo will further drive this industry and its legitimacy across Africa and beyond. It will be the platform for entrants into the industry and for African owned brands all over the world looking to expand their market to other regions whether import or export.

Because of BONA Expo, our eyes at Okoko Cosmetiques are now set on the African market, quite remarkable! This exposition truly has great potential to even cause how our natural ingredients can be better sourced and accessed moving forward.

Women are the biggest market for skincare products, what should the expo offer them?
Women are not only the biggest market for skin and hair care products but also a large percentage of the Green Beauty Brands all over the world are female-owned. What the exposition will be offering is diversity and inclusion for product patronisers and empowerment for those who believe that they have what it takes in terms of tenacity and credibility to delve into this industry.

Panel discussions will spike powerful conversations that have the capacity to change neutral pathways that can birth businesses that will grow in leaps and bounds in a few years to come. The men are not left out; we’re trying to break free from the African culture that perceives certain occupations and industries only suitable to women, we’re offering men inclusion at BONA expo.