Interview with an African Skin Care Boss: Blondie Okpuzor of BathKandy
Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know the people behind some of our favorite African skin care? Hear the stories of real African women, brands, and influencers in the industry?
I thought you might.
Because with the state of the world right now? The devil is working overtime. So we will take hope and inspiration anywhere, anytime, thankyouverymuch
For me, creative inspiration comes from many places - great television, a good book, making soap...
I love to make soap. Cold process, hot process, melt-and-pour...you name it. It's one of my favorite ways to get creative, and I'm a sucker for the oohs and aahs my overnight guests shower (heh!) me with whenever I gift them handmade soap.
So, when I came across Nigerian bath and body company, BathKandy, it was a match made in body treat heaven. I'm drawn to the brand, what it stands for, and the gorgeous products they create.
My Gaaad. The company tagline, #bathtimejustgotyummier couldn't be any truer.
The founder and CEO, Blondie Okpuzor, is an amazing woman. She has built a wonderful company out of a personal struggle. Read on to get inspired and join a yummy giveaway!
Blondie Okpuzor of African skin care brand - BathKandy
- Name: Blondie Okpuzor
- Location: Lagos, Nigeria
- Current title and company: CEO/ Founder of BathKandy Co.
- Educational Background: I have a dual MBA in Marketing and Management. Undergraduate: B.Sc. Business Management and Sociology from Stonybrook University, NY.
What was your first job out of school/college/university?
Human Resource Information Systems personnel at Insight Communications in NYC.
As an African skin care company, BathKandy creates high-quality food inspired body treats. We’d love to know what inspired this approach to body care. How did you get the idea to start BathKandy?
BathKandy is the result of a personal struggle. A few years ago, I realized that I was allergic to almost everything…from food to water! I couldn't hop in the shower and turn on the faucet!
I break out in hives and turn red and itchy so it took me a while to figure out what the problem was. I'm also allergic to most of my favorite foods…dessert included and this was and still is pure torture.
So I started mixing my own shea butter creams because that was the only thing that would soothe my skin. In December 2014, a friend asked me to create a homemade gift box for her mom for Christmas and I created 2. I posted the pictures on my Blackberry and the rest they say is history.
Orders for over 50 gift boxes came in and I had to improvise and be creative because I was not prepared. I started to think this could be a business, God had used my personal struggle to bring me to my purpose.
I began to think of ways to differentiate myself from other skincare products on the market. I thought, "You love desserts. Make your products look and smell like dessert. Infuse actual food ingredients into the products…it doesn’t get any gentler than that!"
After you had the idea, how long did it take you to do the groundwork for BathKandy? What year did you launch?
Hmmm, immediately I would say. When the 50+ orders came in, I had no packaging…nothing!
I went to a supermarket and bought out all the jars of olives to use as packaging. I got crafty. People loved the homemade, artistic vibe they got. The products also looked like edible desserts, and who doesn’t like food?!
My family would accidentally use body butter as spread for cakes and bread. Or eat soapy cupcakes, truffles and cookies. I knew it was time to get a place!
We started selling to customers in December 2014 but the store opened in March 2015. But, I've been formulating for family and friends from my kitchen for about 5 years.
One of BathKandy’s offers is the craft workshops called “Sip n’ Craft”. How did this creative concept come about? Is this approach something you set out to do from the start as an African skin care company?
Sip ‘n’ Craft classes are soo much fun…but I didn’t set out to do it . They are a result of customer feedback!
As a company, we are customer focused. We take feedback and create things we know our customers will like.
Customers kept asking us if we taught classes. At the time, I had started BathKandy and was not ready to teach professional classes. I am a huge DIY-er and thought if I could make cosmetics crafting fun and easy, then people would get interested.
We love that as an African skin care company, BathKandy values social responsibility. In what ways are you being green in your approach to beauty?
Our company uses only recyclable containers and we ask customers to recycle their packaging.
BathKandy has a naked approach to packaging. We encourage customers to return their bottles/tubs for refilling.
Our production process is streamlined to ensure little to no waste. This means we use every raw material and use byproducts for other things.
We support various charities and local cooperatives that empower women. We buy raw materials from these groups.
You've collaborated with entrepreneurs like Lola OJ and Nicole Chikwe. How did these opportunities come about? Have you ever had to turn down a collaboration opportunity you didn't consider as the right fit?
Yes, I have.
BathKandy loves to work with people whose creative, artistic vision aligns with ours. When approached by these two wonderful entrepreneurs, we clicked. It was easy to make the collaboration happen.
I have turned down opportunities because they didn’t fit the company vision or poor timing. It is important to keep our vision in mind at all times. This makes it easy to make a decision about the future of the company.
How do you professionally turn down an opportunity in this increasingly small business world?
I always say if you don’t stand for something, you’d fall for anything.
Honesty is a very important trait that I admire and so I apply this to the way I run my company. If an opportunity doesn’t fit, I politely explain why we will be unable to move forward.
I also ensure that I am spreading the message of BathKandy. If the opportunity were to come up again in the future, we would both be on the same page and possibly make it work.
Do you have a growing staff or do you continue to do most of the manufacturing yourself? If it's still you, what will be the first position you would hire out?
Oh my, our staff strength is growing by the day!
We’ve grown so much in the past year and it’s hard to believe that we are not even 2 yet! I continue to do most of the manufacturing myself but I do have assistants who help me. Production is my happy place, where I get to express and share myself with the world.
What is a typical workday like for you?
I’m an early bird so my day starts at about 3 am.
I start by praying and committing my day to God. Then I organize my day and plan on what I need to do for the day. Then I’d check my emails and handle the daily tasks.
I tend to schedule my meetings in the morning. Then I can have the rest of the day for research, formulation, production etc.
I am very involved with customer service. So I usually stop by the shop floor to interact and get feedback from customers. After this, I go to church and then head home to do some more work.
Hehehe, the grind doesn’t stop…but I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur in the African skin care space?
Be ready to work, cry, sweat and fight for your dream but in the end, only the strong will succeed.
It is so easy to get caught up in the hype of being an entrepreneur. But the truth is if you are not ready to get your hands dirty, then you are not ready for success. You must be willing to fail and keep trying until you get it.
But don't be too stubborn to realign the vision and change gears or adapt the dream. Sometimes things don’t happen the way we plan. Trust in your journey. Know that your mistakes are always part of a bigger plan to make you stronger and take you to your desired end.
Don’t get discouraged by the setbacks and roadblocks…nothing good comes easy. In fact, embrace them and turn every setback into a life lesson. Frustrations will come but they only build character. Perseverance makes the final reward that much sweeter.
What is the best moment of your African skin care career thus far?
For me, the best moments are still happening. Every day I get to spend doing what I love is a testament to God’s faithfulness. I mean, I am living my dream and doing the things I prayed for.
For every customer who purchases or recommends BathKandy to another, I’m grateful. It is validation that greater things are yet to come.
I live in the moment and remind myself of how fortunate I am…I don’t take this for granted.
Let’s Get to Know You…
What is your favorite dessert?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one because I love desserts. I cannot pick one. The sweeter and more “heart-clogging”, the better for me. If I had to choose, I'd say, sweet potato pie with lots of whipped cream. And white chocolate macadamia nut cheesecake.
If you could have dinner with any woman, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet Sara Blakely of Spanx. A self-made entrepreneur who became successful by creating a solution to a problem.
What BathKandy product would you gift her?
I’d definitely give her my Body Soufflé and a dessert candle. Spanx gives flattering silhouettes, making you feel sexy and comfortable in their skin. BathKandy products make you feel confident and sexy in your own skin too! And they smell divine!
What is your favorite book?
Not to sound cliché or anything but my favorite book is the Bible. It has the answers to every possible situation I face. It has promises that give me a boost when I need an uplifting message.
What is your favorite way to spend “me-time”?
Watching videos on YouTube, listening to music or reading a good book.
Fun fact about yourself:
I love the water (the beach, sailing, water sports) and I love horses.
What motto do you live your life by?
Integrity and truth. A good name is worth more than silver and gold.
When people trust you, they will invest in you and put all they have on you. That is worth more than all the money in the world.
Told ya! Inspiration level on a hunnid!
Isn’t Blondie amazing?! She is a gem in the African skin care industry.
BathKandy is giving away their rich and creamy hand lotion, "Luscious Hands" to a lucky Skincerely Clare reader who lives in Lagos.
Enter the giveaway below! It runs for a week, and the winner will be selected on Sunday, 19th March, 2017. Good luck! #bathtimejustgotyummier
This giveaway is closed. Congratulations Uzoma!
Which African skin care boss would you like to get to know next? Let me know in the comments!
All images in this post were provided by BathKandy