Posted on March 08 2021
STARTING A SMALL BUSINESS DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC: A TALK WITH NGOZIORGANICS FOUNDER, CAROLYNE KHABAMBA.
By Amanda Mansoorbakht
The COVID-19 pandemic has halted global economies, burdening many without steady employment. However, many millennial women are finding this trying time to delve into their creativity and birth a business of their own. In this interview, Feminist Trash chatted with Kenyan born NgoziOrganics founder, Carolyne Khabamba, who shared her best tips for women who are interested in creating a business of their own but don’t know where to start.
Feminist Trash: I have been following NgoziOrganics since the early stages. I’m so happy for your brilliant success! What made you want to start a business during such a daunting time like a global pandemic? How did you battle the fear of financial risk?
Carolyne Khabamba: My business started as a result of me looking for solutions for my skin infection. Remember during the pandemic, how people used to say, “you must come out of this pandemic with a skill?” Yes, that was it. I said I must come out of this pandemic with clear skin. I vowed to try all the things I could, and I did. I had gone to the doctor a couple of times to no avail. So I came up with my own solution by the help of my parents back home. A couple of remedies, and it worked finally! That’s the genesis of my business. I didn’t think of the financial risk; I wanted to help anyone I could because I knew how it felt to look for solutions.
FT: I appreciate your courageousness. Your skincare line is very natural, which is very different from what we see at drugstores or even high end skincare retailers. Why is keeping beauty clean important to you?
CK: Keeping beauty important to me is part of me. This is what I had all my life. I am from Kenya, Africa. I grew up using natural remedies. Our culture uses leaves and roots of various indigenous trees to come up with natural remedies, and it is different in the US. There is a saying in my language that says, “you can take a man out of the village but not the village out of them.” I guess that’s just my case!
FT: I struggled with bumps and hyper pigmentation on my sensitive skin for as long as I could remember. I always found that the products I had access to strictly catered to clear, fair, white skin. How does NgoziOrganics address skin problems that black and other women of color face?
CK: Honestly, this is a very sad question. I didn’t know that people experienced this. Where I come from, we are the same color, and our skin struggles are the same for the most part. I am ready to help women of color know that they belong. My brand will bring a feeling of belonging.They are my tribe. I make products that they can relate with. Products that will suit and help their melanin skin.
FT: Yes, I have struggled with that personally. In terms of marketing, how has social media been useful in garnering brand awareness? How can other small businesses use digital platforms strategically to garner more customers?
CK: Social media has been very helpful, considering I just moved to the US, and I don’t know many people. My social media accounts have helped me reach people I would have never met in my life. Now I can have my customers learn more about my products. I tell them what I add to my products and why; that way, they learn more about their skin as well. Social media gives me immediate feedback.
FT: How important is it to you to maintain a community and connect with your customers and potential buyers?
CK: It is very important as I get their feedback. I adjust where I should as quickly as I can,making my customers happy and strengthening our bond. That way, they know I care about their opinion and that my brand is their brand.
FT: You are an immigrant with a different culture from your current residence in Louisiana.What philosophies from your native country do you want to introduce to American beauty customers?
CK: Yes! This is a good question. I want people to know that natural remedies work. They will continue to work for centuries to come. So many instances that medicine has failed me, and I always run to my natural remedies. Especially with my skin. It’s been up and down. Western medicine is good, but I would recommend one to explore natural skin remedies. I got this from my grandmother. She died at the age of 100 years, but she always advised me never to let goof what I believe in. I believe in natural skincare! I will educate as many people as I can about natural skincare.
FT: What advice can you give to young women who are looking to start their own business but don’t know where to begin?
CK: With this, I recommend you do something you know. Something you have enough knowledge about. You don’t even have to love it at first. You have to be knowledgeable. If you don’t have the required knowledge, research until you do. Then go for it because nothing will be brought to the table that you won’t be able to answer or fix. That’s the power. Knowledge is power!
NgoziOrganics can be found on Instagram, on Facebook, and their website. Thank you to Carolyne Khabamba for taking the time to chat with Feminist Trash! We wish your business many decades of prosperity
Amanda Mansoorbakht is an intersectional feminist and copywriter from El Monte California. Follow her on Instagram.
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FEMINIST MEDIA. SHOP NOW!