“Make sure your reasons for starting your business are genuine and for the love of the craft (industry) and not purely for the money. The money will come. But [if that is your sole aim] you might be frustrated out of the business before it does.” – Blondie Okpuzor, Owner, BathKandy Co.
Blondie Okpuzor is more than just a skincare entrepreneur, she’s an innovator and an artist. Okpuzor is the owner of BathKandy Co, a company that creates organic skin care products using unconventional raw materials like garri, rice, and cocoa. Like most entrepreneurs, Okpuzor started BathKandy to solve a problem for others, that she herself had battled and conquered; help men and women who struggle with different skin issues get better and more beautiful skin.
“As a result of a personal struggle with allergies ranging from food to soaps to water, I had to find something that helped to alleviate my discomfort and treat my skin so I started mixing natural oils and butter I found in my kitchen and they helped. Over time, people started asking me what I was using and that is how BathKandy started,” Okpuzor says.
Her products are not just made from unconventional organic materials, they are unconventional in appearance; newfangled dessert-looking soaps, lotion, scrubs, and even scented candles. BathKandy products bear a stunningly true-to-life resemblance to actual desserts. This is Okpuzor’s trademark.
“We create them that way because food is a unifying factor and is equally something that brings people together. Every memorable gathering is centred around food… Mirroring our products after desserts is intentional because it serves as an initial point of interest and a conversation starter,” she says. But more than that, creating her products that way is an indication of the foods she cannot eat due to her allergies.
BathKandy products also smell as delicious as they appear; fruity, sensual, and occasionally spicy. According to Okpuzor, she capitalises on smell being the strongest sense to design products that help customers create pleasant memories that are centred around indulgence and happiness, and equally remind them of these memories.
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, that’s how you learn and grow. Be honest, it will take you places. Ask questions, you don’t have a monopoly on knowledge.” – Blondie Okpuzor.
In developing her brand, Okpuzor looks up to big brands that have stood the test of time and shaped the world, brands like Bath & Body Works, Google, Walmart, and Apple. “These organizations have impacted not just their employees and stakeholders, but have changed the world by the way they do business and how they operate,” she says.
BathKandy products are mostly advertised via word of mouth and social media, particularly Instagram. “Our target market has a heavy social media presence and so we find it very effective and cost-efficient to advertise there,” Okpuzor says. The company also creates gifts for events, this serves as another means of advertising.
Regarding challenges encountered in running BathKandy, unfriendly government policies and a lack of consistent power supply are some of them. But the greatest challenge is human capital; finding competent and reliable employees. Still, Okpuzor has managed to build a small close-knit team she’s proud of. One she describes as “understanding and supportive”. A team that has bought into the vision of the company and made it a mission to ensure it succeeds.
“Future planning is key. Identifying roles and opportunities in your company and starting to work towards filling those gaps early enough will save you a load of time and resources.” – Blondie Okpuzor.
To tackle some of the challenges she faces as a skin care entrepreneur, she calls on the government to put stricter measures in place to make it difficult for unqualified players to gain entry into the skin care market as their presence makes it difficult for verified businesses to thrive.
“Consumers have been burned repeatedly by promises of skin care miracles and this has created trust issues. Building consumer trust is almost a herculean task. Therefore, making it impossible for non-qualified companies to sell is a first step to restoring buyer confidence. It would give room for qualified players to provide great, safe and high-quality skin care for all,” Okpuzor says.
As an entrepreneur, Okpuzor finds the most fulfilment in doing something that she loves and also in knowing that her products are helping people. She enjoys meeting and interacting with her customers, getting great feedback and listening to people share stories of how her brand has inspired them. “It is a feeling second to none. For me, BathKandy is a labour of love. To them, BathKandy is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” Okpuzor says.