Ibironke Jegede makes bath and body products using premium quality nature-based ingredients to help people achieve and maintain healthy nourished skin.
She had a lot to say when she was asked about how she started. “I love to make things! I enjoy the process of bringing my ideas into life. I have sensitive skin and when I was young, my paternal grandmother used to make me black soap and Shea butter. She would add in different ingredients to help get rid of some of my skin rashes. I went to a boarding school, and it seemed like I always managed to contract every skin rash going around the school. The black soap and Shea butter mix would always clear my skin up.”
“I also had allergic reactions to regular bar soaps. They made me sneeze, which earned me the nickname Tissue Queen from my Mum! I now know that I was reacting to the sodium laureth sulphates (SLES) which are commonly used to boost soap lather. Fast forward to the University where everyone used fancy soaps, I joined the trend but my skin would flare up horribly and every time I went back to using black soap for it to clear up. In 2009/2010 while doing my LLM in the UK, I realized I had no flare ups, no allergies and I thought it was the weather. All I was using then was my black soap and Shea butter!”
“I had always been a Body Butter junkie and bought tons of stuff from The Body Shop and Lush! My happiest moments in the UK were spent browsing their shelves. Imagine how I felt when it finally dawned on me that I could make my own stuff – I was always adding and tweaking the products I got in those stores anyway! So, research started, I attended trainings and started putting things together. I had also been making Body Butter for family and friends for years and they would tell me to go commercial, but it wasn’t something I thought about doing. I wanted to put my law degree to use.”
“In 2014, my husband was embarking on a trip and while I was making him some soap to take along, he looked at me and said, “you are always so happy when you are making this stuff, look at the joy on your face!” I didn’t think anything of those words at the time. The following year, I began making some items at commercial volumes but that was short-lived as I became pregnant. I restarted commercial production in 2017, after realising I was letting my talent go dormant! I dusted my books and equipment and dove right in.”
“Even though I am not formally trained as a skin care specialist, I have garnered a lot of experience over the years, training, experimenting and discovering things that work. Combining that with my love for nature’s bounty and for making things, I know that this is what I have been called to do!”
The bureaucracy in Nigerian government offices as well infrastructural issues are her major challenges. “Obtaining NAFDAC registration is a long and tedious process. People in similar industries in other countries don’t face this same problem.”
“Packaging is not readily accessible at affordable rates. In 2015, I went to several plastic manufacturing companies and I was told to buy my own mold for a minimum order quantity of 20,000! I could not do that as a micro business owner in need of different packaging options. Even though things have improved since then, there is still some way to go.”
“Power is another huge challenge! Power is needed to make soap, lotion and other skin care products. Nothing with milk or fruit puree can be made without power. This sometimes results in production delays and adds to the eventual cost of products. “
Ibironke finds inspiration all around her. “I always pray that my eyes will be opened to see things that would inspire me. For example, my Mum sent me some Agbalumo in February. They were too tart and I couldn’t enjoy them, but didn’t want them to waste and kept thinking of what to do with them. I woke up one morning and it came to me: I could use them to make soap! So, I did; I used the puree and it turned out great. Agbalumo has lots of beneficial vitamin C.”
Speaking on the project that increased her confidence in herself, she says, “I attended a skincare workshop in 2015 where I saw how several things – which I had thought I could do but lacked the courage to try – were made. I knew then that my ideas were definitely not as crazy as I had thought; I could do a lot. Since then, I have learnt to trust my instincts more.”
Now, she would love to partner with wellness stores to distribute her products for a greater reach and to eliminate shipping fees for her customers.
“Youth empowerment is fundamental to how you function as an adult,” she believes. “Empowerment means several things: it could be learning a skill, or attending a training to improve upon a skill you already possess. You are not a tree, you need to move! Even if you were a tree, you would need water and sunlight to grow! So, water yourself. Get life skills, whatever you feed your mind is what it grows with. No knowledge is wasted. If there are free classes being offered, take advantage of them. You never know where those skills will come in.”
“We have grown to believe that getting a part time job while in secondary school or during school holidays is for the less privileged. If your uncle or father has a company, go there and apply for work. Start in the file room! It is amazing the number of graduates we have that cannot file documents properly. They cannot use a photocopier.”
“Some cannot even write a letter or send a courtesy email! You can make all these mistakes while in school and you won’t be judged. In fact, people will want to assist and teach you. It’s a different thing when you are actually employed and don’t know how to do these things. We can’t all be entrepreneurs. Whatever, you do, master it! Your work speaks for you even before people meet you.”
Connect with her via
Instagram: @TheEarthyGoodness where I bring my creativity to life in helping people make a switch from synthetic products to natural products.
Facebook Page: The Earthy Goodness