Inspiration can come from anywhere and when Nneji Akunne and siblings weren’t satisfied with the skin care options that were available to them, they decided to develop their own. With experience as a Sustainability Fellow for H&M Germany and marketing consultant for smaller startup brands, Nneji has used her experience to develop ILERA Apothecary, a luxury personal organic skin care line.
Why did you start ILERA Apothecary?
We started ILERA Apothecary because we sought transparency in the personal care industry. Making our own products for personal use and seeing how effective they were made us wonder why other products within the industry needed so many ingredients to do the same job.
We looked as far back as 10,000 BC on more traditional practices, where Ancient Egyptians used elements from the earth to heal and protect their skin, and realised that the foundation of natural beauty came from the ingredients in the products used each day.
Why do you think organic and natural personal care is important and matters in the beauty industry?
What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on it. We are so blinded by big corporations marketing and advertising that sell us “younger looking skin” that we don’t pay attention to the ingredients used in each product. Because the FDA does not currently regulate the ingredients of beauty products in the U.S. with the same thoroughness done in the E.U., it’s up to consumers to read and understand each product’s labels; which in reality is something that’s not always done.
When you choose organic skincare, you’re choosing products whose ingredients work with the natural systems of your skin, not the scientific formulas that have been tested on animals to produce results unrelated to human beings. Organic and natural personal care companies like ours that are truly passionate about each customer, carefully spell out the ingredients used in all products offered and the reasoning behind them.
What makes ILERA Apothecary different from other personal care startups?
ILERA Apothecary aims to educate our customers about their overall health. It’s one thing to simply promote a more natural skincare regimen but, as stated before, what goes inside of your body is important as well. We take a more hands-on approach and speak about the health of the individual from all areas like diets, mental health and lifestyle.
All skin types are not created equal and while it would be easy to sell the same product to every customer as they come, we offer consultation services where we can get to know the customer better and understand their skin and lifestyle needs.
What is your favourite product and why?
Both of our personal favourites is the unscented body butter. I (Nneji) am all about the touch and feel of the skin along with being able to determine my scent for the day. For Chinonye, the body butter leaves her skin feeling so rich and smooth day and night which is very important since she has dry skin.
For your business to get to the next level, would you prefer funding or a high-value mentor?
High-Value Mentor. I say this because funding would only be able to take us so far. With a mentor, not only would the individual be able to provide us with networks we may not have been granted access to, but also the insight and experience of a seasoned mentor are worth way more than money can buy.
What can we expect from ILERA Apothecary over the next 6 months?
We are looking to expand the brand into international markets and entering into more retail spaces. We are also working to expand our product offerings to include a separate men’s line. While our products are currently unisex, we want to cater to the specifics of a man at all life stages.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned on your journey towards healthy skin and body care?
Understanding the importance of planning for the future right now has shifted our lives tremendously. We always heard that your body is your temple and it should be treated as such but it wasn’t until we began testing products to sell that we truly understood that notion.
Skin is the body’s largest organ that serves to protect your insides from the outside world. Where you live, what you eat, and what you do on a daily basis can determine the type of life you’ll live once you get further in age. Living healthy and active lifestyles are our goals as we age and taking care of our skin is one of the first steps in making that happen.
Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.