How skin disease drove duo to cosmetics business

Diana Ochola, co-founder and production lead of Nature Touch Kenya. Inset: Some products of the company. PHOTO | COURTESY

Diana Ochola, 33, and Caroline Ngugi, 32, founders of Nature’s Touch Kenya began a lifelong journey to health and wellness in December 2016 to find remedies for families suffering from skin problems.

The two had suffered from skill conditions and to find solutions to their health challenges, they opted to experiment with beauty products in the kitchen of Diana’s mother formulating and producing natural body shea butter for their own use and that of their families and friends.

“I had struggled with severe adult acne for years while Diana suffered from dry skin for some time. The expensive medications and oils recommended by dermatologists just worsened the situation but when we applied the natural products, our skins gradually healed,” said Caroline, Nature’s Touch Kenya co-founder.

Despite having no manufacturing background, the two invested Sh30,000 to buy 50 pieces of glass packing jars at Sh2,950, raw materials at Sh21,619 and mixing equipment at Sh8,750 turning the kitchen into an experimenting lab, and in three months produced seven ranges of shea butter samples.

The samples were presented to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) for approval and certification, and on March 2017 they founded Nature’s Touch Kenya, a cosmetics manufacturing firm focused on providing families with eco-friendly skincare solutions that do not compromise health for beauty.

“My contract at the United Nations Department of Safety and Security was ending in February 2017, and having turned 30 just a few months back I knew this was the right time to take a leap of faith and venture into the business. Nature’s Touch was born out of need and passion to find solutions to skin problems, and live a healthy lifestyle inside and out,” said Daina, co-founder, and production lead, Nature’s Touch Kenya.

After meeting the certification of mass production and commercialisation of the product, they introduced the product into the market in December 2017 manufacturing 50 pieces of shea butter a month packaged in 291ml clear jars and selling through two distribution channels at Sh 1,050.

Currently, the firm produces 400 pieces a month selling through the e-commerce platform and 18 distribution channels across the country including Super Cosmetics and Goodlife Pharmacy.

Nature's Touch Kenya manufactures face, body, kids, and lip-gloss products using handpicked ingredients free from preservatives and artificial chemicals.

The products are specially formulated for health-conscious individuals looking for natural skin remedy solutions and produced in small batches to maintain quality and consistency at every production stage.

Research conducted by MDPI, Publishers of Open Access Journal, in 2019 on Green Consumer Behaviour in the Cosmetics Market shows that the trend seeking natural materials and additives is on the rise.

Seventy per cent of consumers prefer natural cosmetics, and are willing to pay extra for organic products. 56 percent prefer to buy brands that are newcomers in the cosmetics market.

Driven by their quest to acquire the right expertise to grow the business, they leveraged on networks and joined the Kenya Association of Manufacturers to gain the knowledge needed to stay competitive in the market.

“The Kenyan Association of Manufacturers has been like a mother to us as an MSME and we have taken advantage of their programmes to gain the necessary knowledge needed for our business, “said Caroline.

In July 2019, the company was selected out of a pool of 236 entrepreneurs who applied for the E4Impact Foundation Accelerator Programme, a platform that focuses on training impact entrepreneurs in the developing world to support the start-up and growth of their businesses.

“My inspiration is to change people’s lives. If I can impact even one person to do and be better, then my life is complete. What I have learned in the last two years and seven months has been worth the pain, the tears, and the laughs,” said Diana.

Diana is the production lead responsible for executing the production strategy of the organisation ensuring that Nature’s Touch maintains quality standards and good manufacturing practices.

She holds an undergraduate degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from United States International University (USIU-Africa), a Higher Diploma in Human Resource Management from IHRM and a Masters in Organisational Development from USIU, and is currently undertaking a seven-month business growth programme for SMEs with KAM.

-African Laughter

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