The personal luxury goods had the second largest market share (approximately 24.2%) in the luxury goods market after luxury cars, which account for about a 38.8% share in the industry, according to a report by Ernst & Young Luxury and Cosmetics Financial Fact book 2016.
Growth in the beauty industry is driven by:
- Penetration by existing players with innovative products into new markets.
- Increase of consumer purchasing power and improving lifestyle of individuals.
- Increasing disposable income and demand for high-end products.
There are also new markets such as India, South Africa and Turkey that generated more than two–thirds of the beauty market growth in 2015.
The industry has new players such as EPARA by Ozohu Adoh, a Nigerian based in London, a former financier turned skincare entrepreneur. Epara means to cocoon in the Ebira dialect.
The beauty market is proving to be very attractive for most of its players — beauty companies, retailers, start-ups and investment funds — with its track record of high single-digit growth. Why did you decide to create a skincare product?
My aim was that anyone using the products should feel enveloped in luxury, I therefore chose a name; EPARA that represents this aspect. The smell, the texture the presentation of the brand should cocoon the user in luxury.
Having worked in the finance industry and now I am in skincare, both industries seek similarly to make a commercial offering to the market. The fundamentals of business apply in both cases. However, the intricacies of the industries couldn’t be more different due to the personal nature of the skincare business. The offering has to appeal to the buyer on both an intellectual and emotional level. Intellectual, because the products really need to be effective and emotional because the buyer needs to feel invested in the brand before they make a purchase.
Apart from ensuring the rigorous research to ensure the products were not only efficacious but efficacious for the needs of women of colour, getting the positioning right has taken some investment. In a crowded market, you have to present a unique and distinct proposition. And I will say we have been able to do so with Epara.
How much time did it take you to research to locate the source of the ingredients such as Moringa oil from Kenya, Marula oil from South Africa, Argan oil from Morocco and Shea Butter from Ghana, etc Why did you decide select these ingredients?
It took us almost three years from the concept to product. I started working on it in 2014 and we launched it in 2017. In these three years, two were spent on sourcing of ingredients.
We wanted to ensure that we were sourcing the very best and highest quality ingredients from these countries. We also wanted to understand their provenance as we hope to build a sustainable business by working where possible with makers and farmers where these ingredients are sourced. We chose the ingredients primarily because they were from Africa and we believe that nature has provided solutions in abundance for the skincare issues we face as women of colour. Our forbearers had always used these ingredients but now we are able to deploy them in a scientific manner and present them to the world.
At the moment, the suppliers bring them to England where the formulation takes place. We do however know who the original makers and farmers are.
What inspired the look of the products and the packaging? What story do your products and the packaging tell?
We wanted to go for a clean and minimalist look and feel. We also wanted to project the natural bonafides of the ingredients with the primary packaging. Our ethos is to do the little we do as well as we can.
We want to project to the user that without too much fuss, engage with our brand and products to see how amazing it is. We wanted to project something that would be aesthetically pleasing and evoke the thoughtful consideration that had gone into every facet of our product.
As part of the process, EPARA collaborated with the Chanel ambassador, Kay Montano who is a great supporter of diversity. She loved the products after she tried them and she is a very good friend of the brand.
How long did it take to join Harrods and what were the requirements? What has been the impact in regards to widening your client base?
The process about 16 months and the requirements were that the proposition be compelling and commercial. The brand is becoming more known especially since we are now on Harrods.com as well as instore. Yes, surprisingly, we have had quite a diverse client base.
You are also stocked in Alara Lagos, in Nigeria. What are the results?
I have to say very well. We have already had a re-order. It has been better than we anticipated.
Your current main retail spots are Harrods and Alara. Do you intend to open a boutique? Is your main strategy to work with concept and department stores?
Yes, for now, we believe it would be best to work with concept and department stores. We are also retailed in Brussels at a newly opened concept store named LabelChic. We will also be launching in South Africa in January 2018 at the iconic MaisonMara store in Cape Town.
Launching the brand in the iconic stores, Harrods and Alara has been great. But some of the teething problems we had at the beginning a small business was challenging but also opportunities to learn.
Do you have plans for geographical expansion?
We hope to be in more African markets like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Senegal. We will also look at other European markets such as France.