Elohor Ovite, CEO of E and E Skincare, reveals why most Nigerian women are shedding their melanin for a whiter complexion in this interview with Gold Nne.
Most people who delve into business do so with a preconceived mindset of starting a particular business and sticking to it against all odds, investing time and resources to ensure that the business finally pays off.
But others keep trying out different businesses, fail, learn, relearn till they find a business that is more in tune with their personality.
So is the case of Elohor Ovite, the CEO of E and E Skincare and Kayanmata. She tells a relatable story, considering the Nigerian narrative where people test the waters before finally settling on what works for them in business.
On this episode of #LockdownConvoswithGoldNne, the vivacious skincare boss talks about her sojourn from a full-time housewife to running a successful skincare company with thousands of clients from different locations within and outside Nigeria.
How long have you been into skincare?
I started in 2016, precisely 16th of December, 2016.
What made you start a skincare line?
I got married in 2016. As a newly-wed and recent graduate, I got tired of sitting at home. After much discussion with my husband, he thought it wise to open a business for me, selling baby wears. After investing four million naira into the business, it barely survived for six months and I had to give out most of the baby wears.
I came up with a brilliant idea to sell foodstuff after that because I felt everyone eats food, therefore the business will definitely sell out in no time. My husband went ahead to invest in it and shockingly nothing came out of the business. Later, I switched to selling drinks, bearing in mind that people got married and threw parties daily so they would patronize me, but this didn’t work out as well.
It was a very frustrating time for me. I couldn’t ask my husband for any more of his assistance and I had just lost my pregnancy as well. While I was thinking of how to settle into my role as a full-time housewife, my husband started planning our honeymoon to Dubai in December. When we got to Dubai, we went to one of the popular markets and I saw a lady selling skincare products and I became interested. I told my husband to lend me some money, so I could buy products from the woman and sell back in Nigeria.
I started broadcasting on WhatsApp that I had started selling skincare products. To my amazement, people started placing orders and before I left Dubai, I had almost sold out everything I got from the woman who also ran out of stock.
When I got back to Nigeria, I started getting feedback from most clients who used the products that it was good on them. At this point, I was in a fix because I couldn’t order from the woman in Dubai anymore because she had run out of stock. So, I had to look for a Nigerian contact to teach me skincare, since it was giving me so much money from the little I invested in it. That was how I started the skincare business.
Did you attend any skincare institution to learn how to cater to the different skin types?
In order to put my brand forward, I had to try so many different products, tried both organic and pro-mixing products as well. Then I gave them out to different people to try it out. When I started getting positive feedback, I worked on it and started my own line. I never attended any cosmetics school.
What causes skin burns and discolouration after using a particular skincare product?
It is because most Nigerians like fast action skincare products; hence, the increase in those complaints. When you tell a Nigerian the truth about the product that they have to use it continually before they see results, they shy away from such products. They would rather go for products that make them white in six days, popularly called ‘Osha pra pra.’ I believe that is the problem because original organic products do not make one white. It takes about two to three years to see the whitening effect but no Nigerian wants to go for that. Instead, they go for pro-mixing products.
What is pro-mixing?
It involves using other branded products to give you the desired whitening result. An example would be mixing Nivea, Carotone, Nature Secrets and all that to get a whitening effect. While organic products are produced from scratch. I specialize in both of them, but mostly my clients want the ‘Osha pra pra’ and I give it to them.
There’s a new rave among women to get white complexion. What is the cause of this new trend?
I feel a dark woman feels she wants to get light-skinned because light-skinned people get more attention. They also feel most men would go after a light-skinned woman over dark skin. I try to educate them on the importance of a healthy skin irrespective of the colour but at the end of the day, it’s a choice. I love my skin healthy; I am dark-skinned and I love it. Also, if I decide to bleach I can’t because I find it difficult to go through with skin routines.
Some ladies say they want to tone, as opposed to outright bleaching. Is there a difference between toning and bleaching?
It is the same thing. Here’s my point, a client would come to you saying I want to tone but in real terms, she wants to bleach. When I give them the toning cream, they start complaining that they are not white yet. I am saying this from experience. Most times, 90 per cent of the women who come to me claiming they want to tone, actually want to bleach but do not want to say it outrightly.