Five Minutes with Celmira Amade from TSAKA


Celmira Amade is the founder of TSAKA which is a vegan skincare brand aimed at melanin rich skin tones. She has launched a vegan wonder product to revolutionise skincare for melanin-rich skin. She took time out to tell us how she set up her beauty brand. What made you decide to set up your own beauty business? When I moved to England in 2010, I experienced dry skin, blemishes and acne for the first time. Out of desperation, I tried several skincare products on the mainstream shelves: premium, organic, affordable - you name it. Every morning, for five months I was disappointed. In retrospect, I guess my first tipping point to start TSAKA was being offered a skin bleaching cream in a specialist beauty store in England.

In December 2010, I went home for Christmas and started exploring my late grandmother’s skincare recipes. Even though at that stage, I was not thinking of building my own skincare brand, our TSAKA facemask is the result of successfully trying to get my skin back to normal. My second tipping point to start TSAKA was realising that it was 2015, and the mainstream beauty retailers still did not stock a single skincare product formulated for darker skin. At some point I got tired of finding harsh ingredients in skincare for darker skin and I knew it was my time to serve.

What is the concept behind TSAKA? TSAKA is all about pushing the boundaries on what is possible in natural beauty by leveraging on the largely unexplored ancient yet impressive beauty conscious practices from Africa. We are planning to introduce our range, one product at a time to give us time to educate our users about our novel ingredients and its benefits: allowing our users to fall in love with one product before trying the next one. Our first skincare product, the TSAKA facemask - a deep clean product, with anti inflammatory and smoothening properties, a great addition for blemish prone skin and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is not a clay mask and it sometimes causes confusion in terms of expectations of our consistency. Our next product - a face oil to remove dark spots and scarring on the skin is currently undergoing development.

We have a commitment to leverage 2% of our annual profits to achieve beautiful things in the communities where the ingredients are sourced, such as providing farmers with the necessary harvesting equipment, and their children with personalized academic support and mentorship to also succeed in secondary school and beyond. In the UK, we plan to work with youth through seminars or workshops to encourage them to follow their dreams and fall madly in love with themselves. Happiness is at the core of everything we do – and that is what makes our story so different.

What sort of research did you do to find out what sort of skincare your customers wanted to buy? I had a great experience learning and developing natural skincare recipes for melanin rich skin using my grandmother’s wealth of knowledge of plants and natural beauty recipes. However, in the UK, I struggled to find brands on the high street and mainstream stores that spoke to my black skin needs. I was even more disappointed to find that skin bleaching and harsh chemicals were popular alternatives in specialist beauty stores. While completing my postgraduate degree in the University of Cambridge, I conducted market research on a sample group of 150 men and women of colour and finding natural skincare alternatives was their top concern. As a complete newbie to the beauty industry, I decided to broaden my experience in the beauty industry by taking relevant courses in order to understand the do’s and don'ts of launching a new skincare product.

How did you decide on the look and feel of the brand? From the start, I had a very clear vision of the packaging. Our packaging screams authenticity and self-expression. Indeed, each symbol and colour on the lid tells a part of the tale of a British based brand with African roots. In Africa, yellow symbolises the wealth of active ingredients in your facemask. The infinity symbols signify a human’s unlimited potential across the span of their lifetime. Brown is home to the nutrient rich soil that breeds plant and tree species that grow nowhere else in the world. The four hearts represent our love for Mother Nature’s gifts and purple symbolises that luxurious feeling of allowing yourself 30 minutes for some “me time”.

What are your future plans for TSAKA? Our long-term goal is to be stocked in UK spas and major beauty retailers. Together we will be one step closer to providing healthy skincare alternatives for men and women of colour to and reducing the popularity of harmful chemicals in beauty products.

What are your favourite beauty products? In regards to skincare the TSAKA mask is my favourite skincare product. And I love Mafura Oil and Pukka Organic Rosewater on my skin. With haircare this will sound weird, but I make my own shampoo and hair treatments with Mozambican herbs. If I run out of stock I may use a Kerastase Nutritive Bain Shampoo and Coconut Oil for a short time. With makeup the Bourjois Volume Clubbing Mascara is my all time favourite.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own beauty business? Learn how to help yourself, even if that means reaching out for help sometimes. Understand your own limitations and knowledge gaps. Help yourself by attending more industry relevant workshops and conferences where you can meet like-minded experts and entrepreneurs and learn from their personal journey’s. I am a member of Enterprise Nation and would highly recommend it to any budding entrepreneur. And lastly, believe in your vision, and give yourself permission to make silly mistakes and still be brilliant.

You can follow Celmira on Twitter.