BLACK OWNED BRAND AKA B.O.B: BuTTER SKIN
BLSH sits down with Ebyan Noor, founder and chief product officer of Butter Skin. Butter Skin is a local, Toronto based, green skincare brand that focuses on women of colour.
How did you start your business and why?
I originally started my business in 2015 when I was working at my corporate job. It started off with me having eczema, really dry skin. I still have it until this day, but I've found ways to manage it.
I had the skin condition and I wanted to stop using the hydrocortisone, which is a steroid cream that I've been using since I was 11 years old. It just has really bad, lifelong symptoms that come with it, which could be (I haven't experienced it), but some people go blind from it. I just did all this research and was like, "okay, I need to stop this." I watched videos too of people using natural products. I started just trying to manage it, not cure it, but manage it naturally. That's when I started using hemp seed, olive oil, shea butter. I think within three months I was getting compliments from my family. They started noticing that the insides of my arms were smoother, the discolouration was starting to even out.
They started asking for it. I told them I just mixed a little concoction together and then this is what I used every single day and night. I started mixing it for them, they liked how it felt on their skin. It was not the consistency that it is right now, it was very grainy, but people were still using it.I would give them a little note with all the ingredients that I had at home and they would circle which ones they wanted and then give that back to me and I would mix it for them and deliver it to them. That's how it started.
In 2016, I moved to the U.S. I got a nice severance package from it and I decided to move to the U.S. because my husband lived there. I moved to Columbus, Ohio, and in October 2016 I launched Butter Skin, the website, everything was on sale to the public. Then, January 2017 I found out I was pregnant. The health care system there is not affordable at all so I decided to come back to Canada. I made a personal decision to remain in Toronto and I relaunched Butter Skin again here. I re-did the website and packaging was still the same, but everything got re-done. I also at that time changed my branding. Here I am today with this branding, the new website, and in the Canadian market.
Why the focus on women of colouR?
One, I am woman of colour so it makes a lot of sense that I would be targeting someone that's like me because I know myself. I would know that market and what they need. Secondly, when I was on my journey to natural beauty, there was a huge disconnect between black women and the natural skin care industry. We're not even in their marketing campaigns. If I don't see someone that looks like me in your marketing campaign, chances are you're not targeting me, you're not looking for me.
When it comes to wellness and healthy living, that conversation, we're never a part of it. It's not like we don't want to be. We exist, there are spaces like Project Beauty Expo, we exist, we're out there and we want these products but we just don't have anybody doing it for us.
What have been some of the challenges of operating your business? WHAT HAVE BEEN THE DOWNFALLS OR EVOLUTION OF YOUR PRODUCTS?
The challenges were the consistency changed drastically. It was grainy in the beginning and very oily. I mean it still is oily but when you apply it on you, that's when it melts. It will absorb quickly into your skin. I had to enrol into an organic skin care formulation program, to learn how to formulate these products. In the beginning it was a huge challenge. I wasn't even thinking that far in,I was just making this for my friends and family. A product like that, I could not put on the market. That was a challenge, trying make it look presentable and sellable. Another challenge is the everyday operations. I wear many hats in the business. There's a lot on me, and sometimes I'm not confident in the decisions that I make. It would be nice to have a bigger team where I could discuss things with and then we make decisions. Funding can prove itself to be challenge as well. I apply for so many of these incubators and it's always catered to tech start-ups. There's really no funding available for what I do. Everything is coming out of my pocket.
What are your favoUrite products from the line?
Sister Shea. Sister Shea was the first product that I made. It was dedicated to women of colour, hence the name, Sister Shea, for the sisters. It was a favourite for a lot of black girls. It's definitely my favourite as well. I don't know if it's the name or if it's the scent. It's got a frankincense scent to it, which I love. That's one of my favourite essential oils or if you burn it in your house. It's a Somali thing too, the frankincense. Everything used to be in frankincense. We used to have it in gums too. It was like a ritual. You know when you take a nice bath and you have your tea or what not and then you just light some frankincense. It just set the mood for the night, that's what Sister Shea reminds me of.
I chose specifically body butters because that is a classic for every black girl. It's in every black girl's beauty regiment. It's a staple for us.
Can you explain the concoction?
My concoction? My concoction actually goes back to when I first started, when I used to give them notes. I used to write down whatever I had at the time of essential oils and butters that I had. I used to give it to my coworkers or my friends. They would select what they wanted and I would make it for them. A lot of people liked that. What I did was I made that part of the business as well. You go online-we start our base off with shea butter because it's the best type of butter out there and it's also fair trade, grade A top quality shea butter. Then you add a therapeutic oil to it, then an essential oil to just give it that wow factor. We don't use any fragrances, we use essential oils for your scents and aromas. That's how it works. Then you put in your order.
TO SHOP SKIN BUTTER PRODUCTS VISIT THEIR WEBSITE: https://www.butterskin.com/