May 19, 2018 | By Nicole McLennan
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Although the idea for TAIABOTANICS took years to form and fully take shape, it first came to Muji during a trip to her native South Sudan in 2013, months before civil war and a subsequent refugee crisis.
TAIABOTANICS is a literal take on natural beauty – focusing on sustainability, ethics and female empowerment.
We caught up with Muji to talk her brand, it’s mission and the creation of truly sustainable skincare.
Tell us more about TAIABOTANICS and the mission behind it?
TAIABOTANICS is natural beauty and wellness brand, creating products with only 100% Africa-sourced botanicals. In the communities where our ingredients grow wild – it is the women and communities that have cherished them for centuries. So beyond showcasing these unique botanicals, I ultimately founded the brand to create economic opportunities for these women and to subsequently create more incentives to protect the botanicals.
Your background is in Economics & International Development – what inspired you to get into natural skincare?
I became a bit obsessed with natural beauty and wellness after battling with acne for years. After ruining my gut health with antibiotics, I decided to learn more about my body through naturopathy. This then led to making my own products and relying on herbal and natural remedies. Then when I started travelling around various sub-Saharan African countries, I was naturally drawn to learning more about the rituals and remedies that communities have used. With this fundamental interest, I began researching the natural products industry and studying more of the sustainability issues whilst completing my Masters in International Development. Before long, I realized that I could blend all these passions with TAIABOTANICS and our fundamental mission.
With a lot of new all-natural skincare lines arriving on the market –– what differentiates your brand and offering?
It’s amazing to see so many clean beauty brands emerging. In founding TAIABOTANICS, my intention is really to blend beauty with purpose. One of the core aspects of this, is to have a model that focuses on human connection and transparency – through covering more of the African origins of our ingredients and building a model where we can directly connect to producers, tell more of their stories and preserve this cultural heritage. I think offering customers an experience and opportunity to engage more deeply with African ingredients and lands, is what differentiates us.
In creating a sustainable and ethical line, what challenges have you faced?
Since the industry is growing, there are only a few co-operatives and ethical businesses working in the natural products space in Africa. Whilst our vision is to form new women’s groups and train women, getting started has required me to literally visit existing groups on the ground and find businesses that I can directly source from as we grow. A lot of big businesses I found initially also offered refined oils, that have no real benefit, so navigating and shifting away from these companies to find niche and small companies, required quite a bit of research.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of your first product, pureone?
My struggle to find super pure skincare for my acne-prone and sensitive skin, was the main inspiration behind our first product. I’ve also really taken to the principles of minimalism and less being more, so I wanted something that I could use for many purposes whilst still being high-quality and nourishing. When I discovered the key ingredient of the balm, Nilotica, in my native country South Sudan, I fell in love with how silky and soothing it was so I knew that it would be the perfect base for the balm, and opportunity to connect to these producers.
How do you see TAIABOTANICS expanding? What’s next for you?
Less is more, is a personal and fundamental ethos with the brand, so I have no plans of creating tonnes of products. At the moment, I’m working on another multipurpose product and from there the plan is to focus on building our customers and expanding our operations to Eastern Africa, so we can work more directly with women (and so I can also enjoy more sunshine).
Liked this author? Kelley Mullarkey is the Art & Creative Director at independent arts and culture print magazine, majestic disorder.
Keen for more naturally-sourced ingredients? Read our Emerging Beauty Ingredients report over on WGSN.
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