Pretty When We Win is a series that seeks to reconceptualize pretty by draining it of its negative power. This first iteration highlights inspiring stories of entrepreneurs who identify as women; it hopes to encourage contemplation of the word pretty and explore how we use it in our daily lives.
I was first introduced to Eu’Genia Shea through my friend, Lisa Mattam, CEO of Sahajan Skincare. It’s no surprise that Lisa and Naa-Sakle are friends; they’re both incredibly accomplished, kind, and whip-smart founders of ethical skincare brands.
I was immediately drawn to this brand for its curated product offering and value-driven mission. Named after her mother, Eu’Genia Shea is a family-run social enterprise with a commitment to producing premium shea butter moisturizers. As stated on their website, “We are dedicated to fair wages and opportunities for our female workers in Ghana and donate 15% of our profits back to them in the form of an education fund.”
Eu’Genia Shea purchases their nuts (that’s right, nuts, not shea butter) from their organically trained and sustainably paid pickers. The brand then processes and packs the shea butter in-house, which allows them to offer an incredibly high-quality shea butter skincare product. What’s not to love?
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Please name a woman who inspires you and why.
If someone who inspires you is someone who fills you with the desire to do more and be better, then I am inspired by my daughter-to-be and the strong woman I hope to help her become.
What served as the impetus to start your business? Was it a career switch for you?
The roots of this business are in my mom’s B2B bulk shea butter company which I took over when she was diagnosed with cancer. She’s fine now, but that was the spark that pushed me out of Wall Street and into entrepreneurial life.
What is the hardest part of doing something on your own?
Letting it go before it’s perfect.
What keeps you up at night?
The fear that all the #BLM struggles will fail.
What struggles have you encountered that you feel are unique to women entrepreneurs? What’s the toughest part of being a woman entrepreneur?
Men feigning ignorance about the skincare industry and/or terming it a “women’s field” and refusing to learn about this $5.6 billion dollar market.
What kind of weight does the word pretty have for you? What does pretty mean to you?
As a black woman, I think that “pretty” is a word fraught with mixed emotions. My personal experience shows, and research supports, that we are not often perceived as pretty. I’ve been told I have an “interesting look”, but for the majority of my life, my father was the only person who called me pretty. Now, into adulthood, I’ve found the negative side of pretty, which is the concept that women can’t be strong or serious and beautiful at the same time or (potentially more insidiously) that women’s primary goal is to be considered pretty. I see myself as beautiful and I want others to view me that way too, but that view should be well rounded and not reliant on makeup, clothing, or weight.
Where do you find strength?
In family and friends.
What inspires you?
Our company’s goal is to support as many women as possible as holistically as possible, and that aim pushes me forward.
What’s your favorite way to connect with your clients/partners/customers?
I don’t get to interact with people in-store too much, but when I do, getting to speak with customers and understand their skin priorities before they know I have my own brand and then getting to introduce them to Eu’Genia or Mother’s Shea, is really special.
Can you offer some advice to other women who are looking to start their own business and/or make a career switch?
Save, jump, and ask for help when you need it.
Featured image credit: Matthew Mindlin for The Detox Market
For more from the Pretty When We Win series, visit the Entrepreneurship section of The Mocha Minimalist.