Age doesn’t equal success, and no one knows this more than 22-year-old Naiga Kibuuka, a natural cosmetics formulator and the founder of Naiga Naturals, an affordable organic line of chemical-free cosmetics that nourish skin and hair, formulated with a light, indulgent scent, with fragrance-free options. The intrepid path being forged by young Naiga not only answers the fundamental entrepreneurial question of the possibility of turning one’s passion into a profitable business but also serves as a springboard of inspiration for any young entrepreneur wondering when to start up.
Naiga’s industrialist roots trace back to when she was 19, she says, when she began making natural creams and oil blends for her family and friends to use. Armed with a great deal of positive feedback and testimonials and piloted by her parents’ support, her passion slowly evolved into a full-on business.
I recently caught up with the ambitious and devoted woman behind the brand, who shared the inspiration behind her bold business dive and her significant contributions to the afro cosmetics industry. Here’s what she told me:
“Making natural cosmetics and oil blends for my hair was a hobby of mine, especially in my late teens. I used to make natural creams for my family and friends to use and received so much positive feedback on how their hair was more manageable, growing and lustrous. They would always come back for more products and were willing to pay. This made me realise that I could turn my hobby into a business. In my experience, a lot of the products in stores did not work for my natural hair and my sensitive skin. Even the products that promised clear skin and hair growth on the label would sometimes cause acne on my skin and hair breakage. I came across documentaries about the afro cosmetics industry and became aware of the dangerous effects of skin bleaching and hair relaxers.
“It became clear to me that some products do not list all their ingredients – some of which may have negative health effects, therefore, it’s difficult for customers to know exactly what they are applying on their hair or skin. I felt a need to learn more about the use of cosmetics on our hair and skin and came across research that was done in America, that highlighted the serious health problems that are caused by the chemicals in hair and skin products. This made me aware that what we apply on our skin and hair is not just topical. I wanted to help others and promote the use of affordable, natural, chemical-free products, with ingredients that are safer and truly beneficial to skin and hair. This venture of mine birthed Naiga Naturals.”
True to her passion, Naiga Naturals has since then grown to become a natural cosmetics brand with an expansive product line that moisturise and reduce hair breakage, body butters, lip care and bar soaps for common skin issues such as dry skin, hyperpigmentation or acne. Through their online community (@naiganaturals) they educate their audience on the ingredients used in products and why using natural chemical-free skin and hair products is beneficial to long-term health and wellness.
We are convinced Naiga Naturals will have something your skin and hair care routine needs. To help you get started, here are a few of our favourite products:
- Organic Rosewater Mist Spray: This refreshing mist spray hydrates and revitalises dull-looking skin and has a multi-purpose use. It can be used on brittle ends of hair, and also when applying makeup, it can help blend and set your foundation. One of the main ingredients is Glycerine which is a natural humectant, keeping your skin soft and supple.
- Shea and Kokum Lip Butter: A smooth, natural lip balm, suitable for dry and peeling lips, with long-lasting moisture guaranteed. It is formulated with all-natural ingredients such as pure shea butter, jojoba oil and vitamin E.
- Mango Twist Whipped Hair & Body Butter: Made with organic mango butter, cupuacu, sea buckthorn oil and sweet almond oil, this product is rich in vitamin E and C and helps your skin heal from wounds, sunburns and nourishes dry skin and hair. It also helps to define braid or twist outs on natural hair. Works best with the mango twist shampoo and conditioner, specifically made for extremely dry hair and/or sensitive scalp and kinky & curly hair types.
- Turmeric & Lemon Soap: This soap is a must-have facial cleanser for a brighter and glowing complexion. It is rich in Vitamin C to help brighten your skin and fade dark spots and dark under-eye circles when used over time. It also reduces excess oil on skin.
- Cocoa & Vanilla Whipped Hair & Body Butter: This hair and body essential is made with raw Cocoa Butter to prevent skin dryness and heal cracked skin. It is also very useful in reducing the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy. Also contains Vitamin E which repairs and improves the appearance of scarring and keeps skin looking youthful.
- Argan Oil and Turmeric Soap: This gentle cleanser infused with 100% pure argan oil is suitable for dry skin and hyperpigmentation. Argan Oil has high levels of Vitamin E and is perfect for all skin types, helping to lightly moisturise your skin and heal dry patches. Turmeric reduces dark circles with anti-inflammatory and brightening properties. It also protects against sun damage and fine lines.
Naiga currently has a greenhouse where she grows Aloe Vera, Rosemary and Lavender, with plans to start a large-scale organic farm in Uganda to grow a variety of organic plants for raw materials to manufacture more natural plant-based products. Her long-term goal is to expand the current product range and own a large factory which in turn creates more jobs in her local community. With the way things are so far, we hold no doubt we’ll be seeing all this sooner than later!