Funlayo Alabi shares her experiences and challenges as a business owner, and how she’s grown her natural beauty brand over the last decade.
When Funlayo Alabi began creating shea butter-based skincare remedies in her kitchen, it wasn’t necessarily with the intention of starting a business. She was simply trying to be a good parent.
Alabi’s children suffered from severe dry skin and eczema. In her search for a natural solution to these issues, she discovered that shea butter worked like a charm. She and her husband soon began creating more shea butter-based beauty products for the hair, body and skin. Eventually they launched Shea Radiance, a Maryland-based natural beauty brand that sells products made of fairly sourced, organically produced shea butter.
Over the last decade, Alabi has built up a business that not only meets the growing consumer demand for natural and organic products, but also supports and empowers women in developing countries. According to the company’s website, Shea Radiance sources its main ingredient, shea butter, from women-run cooperatives in West Africa, which gives them the economic power they need to care for their families.
From the kitchen counter to retail shelves
One of the biggest challenges many consumer brands face is simply building up their initial base of retail buyers. This is especially true in the crowded beauty and cosmetics market, and Alabi had her work cut out for her in finding retailers to carry the brand.
“I had to go from store to store, talking to the buyers to see if they would be willing to bring the product in onto their shelves,” she said in a CO— interview with C-Suite Network’s Gregg Greenberg.
Alabi admitted she didn’t realize how time-consuming this growth process would be, and wishes she’d had a more realistic view of how long it would take when she started out. Had she known, she said she would have paced herself and conserved her energy.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Alabi added.
We’ve had to be really creative in raising finances.
Funlayo Alabi, founder of Shea Radiance
Shea Radiance has grown a lot since its humble beginnings 10 years ago. Alabi attributes this growth to her company’s strong grassroots marketing efforts. Aside from being very active on social media, Alabi and her team put in a lot of face time with their potential customers.