Violet Amoabeng fancied she could make the best cosmetics for her mother. At age four she would select skin care products from her mother’s dresser for her ingredients to make her creams.
Then she would mix inexpensive fragrances to enhance her products, package them nicely, and present her work on the dresser for her mother’s feedback. It’s easy to see why her mother wasn’t too pleased with her daughter’s favourite pastime.
Thankfully, it was short-lived. By age nine, Amoabeng had grown out of it as a hobby. It would be years before she would return to her childhood pastime and create a business out of it. Her entrepreneur mother would never have guessed.
Travel, School and Work
The next few years were spent on education – school and her father’s business. She left Ghana for Uganda at age 12, then to Canada and the US. In each of these places, Amoabeng learned something different about the world and herself.
In Uganda, she learnt that it was okay to be different. Her plain-speaking personality, considered as sharp-tongued back home, earned her a spot in the school yearbook for her wit and humour. Canada taught her freedom and exposed her to others.
She gained a better understanding of the different people from all over the world that she met and lived with in boarding school. College in the USA, while expanding her freedoms, took off to a surprising start. She’d had her whole life planned – she was going to study poetry and become a world famous poet with many books to her name.
But after obtaining a required class in accounting, her teacher got to work trying to talk her into studying business instead. She defiantly disagreed initially, but in the end, she saw that a life in business would make a more prudent career path than poetry. She switched over to Business Administration and updated her life plans – to her father’s immense relief.
Amoabeng was introduced to the world of work by her father at age 16 as an intern in his own company, then Unique Trust Financial Services. She worked as a receptionist. “Every summer, he would find something for me to do”.
As she gained experience, she rose through the ranks from being receptionist to loan monitoring officer, then as head of procurement department for UT Bank when she returned to settle at age 26 after her Master’s degree.
Turning point, old hobbies die hard
But Amoabeng suffered a young-adult crisis off sorts when she first returned – her independent, partying lifestyle from the US didn’t fit her new life in Ghana at home with her folks.
She felt she had to grow out of it but didn’t know what cause to take next. In the ensuing funk during which she often shut herself indoors, she turned to prayer and returned to her long lost hobby – making cosmetics.
Her old hobby was re-sparked after she effectively treated her recurring cracked lips with just shea butter when her chapsticks and other treatments had failed. She realised that across Ghana, wholly natural and effective skin care products such as shea butter were made from food, “because if it is good for you to put inside your body, then it is good for you to put on your body”.
She was finally going to create the best cosmetics that were literally good and natural enough to eat. And so when the mixing of cosmetics began again this time, it was for real.
Amoabeng took feedback from family and friends very seriously and improved on her initially runny creams and bath soaps. She has since developed 25 products from moringa oil, baobab, honey, coconut oil and shea butter, neem, among others.
After a full day’s work, Amoabeng spends her nights and weekends developing new products and tending her business. Though she started off with only GHc145 in 2014, the business – Skin Gourmet, is now worth GHc250,000 with 13 employees.
According to Amoabeng, it was important for her to create opportunities for people who didnt have the same opportunities as she had. Amoabeng sources as much of her inputs as are available from Ghana – from the nuts and seeds which are gathered in the wild to packaging, even if they cost more to obtain here than to import.
This, for her, is one of the ways to help develop other people and businesses – a cause she holds dear. Today, Skin Gourmet’s products are made by hand, using age-old natural processing techniques by rural folk who have always made their own skincare products.
Violet Amoabeng is creating skincare products that are healthy, natural and good enough to eat.
It’s not hard to see why her mother would be pleased.