Black women entering multi-billion-dollar industries like the beauty industry is always something worth talking about, especially since it is still such a white saturated space.
Although this may be the case, women like Madam C.J. Walker, the first black female millionaire who made her riches from creating hair products for black women and Lisa Price of Carol’s Daughter, the industry was clearly always meant for black women.
Akosua Koranteng is the mogul in the making behind natural hair and beauty brand ANiM Naturals/AKAN Organics.
As most entrepreneurial tales begin, she was just trying to find solutions for her personal hair journey.
“When I stopped chemically relaxing my hair in 2012 at 22 I realized I did not know anything about taking care of my natural hair because from the age of 5 any regrowth was immediately relaxed,” says Koranteng.
“Shea butter was commonly available in my home country, Ghana which is an amazing natural way of softening and retaining moisture in dry hair and there was pretty much no Shea butter in the mains stream market.”
Koranteng then realized that she was not the only person who experienced these struggles and realized the magic of natural products for women of colour as it was during the Cape Town natural hair movement, thus birthing ANiM.
Growing up with parents that owned a salon in East London, Koranteng was always exposed to the space and entrepreneurial spirit.
“A major part of our daily life was my parents either going or coming from the salon and lamenting over the difficulty of running it. “
“The family business was a mainstay in my childhood memory that I think has really influenced me and is one of the reasons ANIM Naturals feels like a natural progression in my life.”
Besides observing how her parents overcame challenges of running the business, the founder got an intimate experience of the struggles that black women had with their hair.
“It is where I learnt that hair is more than dead cells that grow out of your scalp and that it plays such an integral role in forming beauty standards and perceptions of self-worth.
I also learnt that hair care amongst black women goes beyond aesthetics and is more of a cultural practice and art form.”
Formulated through the use of age old African remedies, products were initially sold online, with social media used as a critical role in the business.
Fast forward to 2019, the small business is distributed through retail chains like Clicks, finally meeting the needs of millions of women in search for safe personal care products in the mainstream market.
“For years, these women walked away not being able to find high quality products specially formulated with them in mind and absent of any harmful chemicals such as parabens, liquid paraffin and other synthetic ingredients that large costume and beauty brands used to lace their products with.”
Although many cosmetic and beauty brands have adopted a high quality safe and natural regime in light of the natural hair movement, many of these brands are not locally owned making Koranteng, Portia M and Corium Skincare by Vuyisile Zondi accessible form of much needed representation.
Koranteng refers to her life as an entrepreneur as ‘Always putting out fires,” the biggest struggle is due to her being a perfectionist which matches her undercover academic persona.
“I love reading and researching, particularly in the sphere of critical theory, philosophy, African studies and de-colonial, I also love music and dabble in a bit of singing and guitar playing.”
With the success of ANIM so far, Koranteng hopes to crack the international market in 5-10 years, securing listings in major retailers like Target, Wholefoods, Sephora and Boots.