Increasingly today, consumers are becoming so much more conscious about the products they put onto their skin and on their hair, looking for natural, high quality alternatives to the chemical laden products on the shelves. For entrepreneur Olukemi Omotayo Asalu, this represented the perfect opportunity to do something she loved and create a business, Daolus Organic Products, to bring natural organic ingredients from Africa to the world.
LoA met with this ambitious and passionate entrepreneur to find out more.
What does your company do?
We are a South African company specializing in the wholesale and supply of high quality, unrefined, raw organic natural products for the production of natural skin and hair care products. Our products are also used by pharmaceutical companies and beauty product manufacturers in their production processes. We supply to people who have a passion for becoming an entrepreneur and our products create an opportunity for them to produce and formulate their own natural product ranges using our lovely, raw, unrefined products. Our butters, carrier oils, essential oils, and African black soap are all expertly handcrafted by West Africa women. Our range of what we can supply is extensive, but some examples include: Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Cocoa Butter, Avocado Butter, and Beeswax. We also stock a wide range of Carrier Oils including Coconut Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Macadamia Oil, and Calendula Oil, to name but a few. The specialist expertise of these women artisans ensures that our products are of the purist, highest quality available, which helps to ensure that our customers will get the most effective products possible. This philosophy also extends to our Essential Oils range which includes Lavender, Carrot Extract Oil, Sage Oil, Jasmine Oil, etc., and our range of specialist Soaps & Powders including African Black Soap, Raw Honey and Camwood Powder, etc.
"We are a South African company specializing in the wholesale and supply of high quality, unrefined, raw organic natural products for the production of natural skin and hair care products."
What inspired you to start your company?
Daolus Organic Products was born because I really wanted people to find a haven in our hectic world where they could shop in peace for raw, organic unrefined, natural products. Over the years, I have become really passionate about the need to share Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, and Africa Black Soap with the world in a way that will benefit everyone, especially the women who make the Butters, Oils, and Soaps and not just the people who using the products. My aim is to provide people with all those natural products that do amazing things for their skin and hair, and at the same time to provide the women who make the Shea Butter with a fair price for their products, and support themselves and their families in their bid to climb out of poverty. Shea butter production is a difficult and laborious task and often the women do not get a fair reward for their hard work.
Working from my kitchen I also continued to combine Shea Butter with high quality essential oils and other natural materials to make special products for friends and family. I never knew a lot of people out there were seriously looking for these products until a lady contacted me for Shea Butter and Black Soap. This lady Sent me a message Via Whatsapp, saying: “I want to Buy Shea Butter and African Black Soap andTshepiso Tsele gave me your contact number”. So I said to her: “Okay, Tshepiso is my very good friend and quickly I called Tshepiso explaining that a lady by the name of Thandeka contacted me understanding that I was selling Shea Butter and African Black Soap. I said to her: “But you know I don’t sell,” and her response to me was: “With you Kemi, there is nothing you can’t sell. I know you will get it for her - that was why I gave her your number.” After the phone conversation with Tshepiso, I replied to the lady saying: “Please forgive me but I’m currently out of stock and by the way, how much do you buy these two products for from your previous suppliers because it’s been a while since I have carried this stock so I don’t know the market price.” She told me the price and while still chatting with her, I also called my Mum and asked her the price of Shea Butter and African Black Soap in Nigeria. She told me and I converted it into my local Rands currency, adding on Shipping, Custom Clearing and all other expenses, then I brought down my own price by 10% undercutting her previous supplier price. We sealed the business deal. Fortunately for me, I had someone coming into South Africa from Nigeria and I told my Mom to help out with the Shea Butter and African Black Soap sourcing from the women extracting the Shea Nut and making the Black Soap as well.
The two Products arrived and Thandeka purchased as ordered. I was left with some Shea Butter and African Black Soap, then I started thinking what to do with the remaining ones. Something just said to me, why don’t you market your products on Gumtree and Olx - I did and on that day I got more than 30 phone calls and emails including Sms’s and Whatspp messages from all over South Africa. That is when I told myself there was indeed a market for these products in South Africa. Later on, calls started coming in from outside South Africa, as far as Europe, Asia and the USA. The people who used my products kept telling me amazing stories about what they had done for them. Stories about soothing dry skin, helping stretch marks and cracked and bleeding skin, saving savaged lips and healing bedsores became common place. It seemed like everyone was telling me that my products were good, and could provide so much help to West African women, and that they should be marketed more broadly. After talking it over, I got inspired and I decided to create another business that develops and markets Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Africa Black Soap and Jamaican Black Castor Oil, different types of Butters, Carrier Oils, Essential Oils and Other Natural Products. This was the start of my business, Daolus Organic Products as it is today.
"I am a fervent believer that business can be a force for good and that doing business right means that everyone benefits."
Why should anyone use your service or product?
At Daolus Organic Products, we adhere to Fair Trade values and principles, so by buying from us you are helping to empower these women who handcrafted the products. Our products are all unrefined and as a result, this has made us stand out in the crowd. Buying from us you know you are buying a Vegan products that has no chemicals in it. We are a proud member of the Global Shea Alliance, so you are safe buying from us.
Tell us a little about your team
The business was founded by myself, Olukemi Omotayo Asalu. I grew up in Nigeria but over the years I have travelled extensively, as far as Europe, including time in Germany, USA and Dubai. I believe that travelling is part of education - when you tour the world you get more exposure to life and great business ideas. I am a fervent believer that business can be a force for good and that doing business right means that everyone benefits; the women who make the shea butter, the natural environment, the people who buy and use the product, the distributors and retailers of the product, and the workers and shareholders of Daolus Organic Products. I am deeply passionate about ethics and rights and believe that true beauty comes from the heart. For me, beauty is much more than a pretty face. We package our products with love and care and provide our customers with raw and organic natural unrefined products. We trade fairly so that communities benefit as well as consumers. I campaign with passion on issues that are close to my heart, because activism is in my blood. I always keep people in my mind, so you know that when you shop with us, you are choosing beauty with heart. Daolus Organic Products is all about creating and sharing value. So, who can use Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil and Black Soap? In a word: EVERYONE!
"I always keep people in my mind, so you know that when you shop with us, you are choosing beauty with heart."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I come from an entrepreneurial background and am just like my mother who is still a very industrious woman despite her old age. My mother is a business woman to the core. Growing up I have always believed in entrepreneurship because it runs in the family. I love my own space, having time for myself any time of the day, and this always rings a bell in my head to remind me that I have to be my own boss. This was one of the reasons I studied Marketing. I started selling while studying in a Higher Educational Institution by helping my mother to take her fabrics to school to sell to friends and make a little change for myself. After school I refused to work for anyone and I opened my own business in Nigeria. I got married, moved to South Africa in 2008, and I continued my life as an entrepreneur. In 2009, I was into hairpieces, a Salon, and started an African fabric business. In 2013 I went into my natural products business because it was something I had a real passion for. Working from my kitchen initially, I combined Shea Butter with high quality essential oils and other natural materials to make special products for friends and family and for personal use. Knowing that lots of people out there needed these types of products, as an entrepreneur I decided to make it my profession. Today, doing what I love and have a passion for gives me joy.
"Today, doing what I love and have a passion for gives me joy."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
To gain more valuable work experience in my business field. To refresh the world with organic natural products. For my company to be known for the best quality Natural Raw Ingredients Supplies. To Provide More Paraben Free, Sulphate Free & SLS Free products to the world. To be the world’s best natural products supplier and to expand my business by having branches in at least 10 countries in the world.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is great because you literally own your destiny. The best part of being an entrepreneur is the ability to create something from nothing. It gives me joy seeing companies that have grown so fast using my natural products for different formulations and producing different types of skin and hair products.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure so chase the vision, not the money: the money will end up following you. A person who never made a mistake never tired anything new.
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Why LoA loves it….
Successful businesses tend to have passionate people at their helms, entrepreneurs who understand the uniqueness of their products and services, and who understand theneeds of their target markets. Olukemi Omotayo Asalu is an entrepreneur who takes real pleasure in celebrating the best natural ingredients that the African continent has to offer and creating opportunities for the rest of the world to experience them too. Her efforts are not just tapping into a growing globe appetite for all things natural when it comes to skin and haircare products, but also creating job opportunities for other women along the value chain - it’s a real win-win venture. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa