Five Minutes With Efua Mercer

Efua Mercer  is the founder of Pure Rooted which is a beauty brand which produces products for your hair, face and body. She took time out to tell me how she created her beauty brand.

What made you decide to set up your own beauty business?

I took a sabbatical from my unrelated office job in 2016 and during this I spent a couple of months in Ghana on a social entrepreneurship voluntary project. It gave me the chance to touch base with my roots, as well as realise that the determination and resilience of entrepreneur with fewer resources than me put me to shame.

During this trip I learnt about amazing Moringa for the first time and after spending some time on a Moringa farm, I decided that I could make some positive social and environmental impact by helping to expand the global market for ethically sourced Moringa grown by small-holder farmers. This allowed me to meld my interest in sustainable agriculture with my passion for natural skincare and haircare.

What is the concept behind Pure Rooted?

Pure Rooted is about championing pure and natural ingredients; rooted in age old experience as well as social and environmental responsibility. Hopefully our tag line captures it - Take care of nature and let nature take care of you. We advocate Pure Power – which is about the power of natural Moringa and natural plant-based health and beauty products in general.

Pure Planet – covers our responsibility to the planet to make use of what it provides naturally and to do this ethically and sustainably. Pure You – is about making products that are effective and versatile for people who may just want a few key products for their personal care.   

What sort of research did you do to find out what sort of products your customers wanted to buy?

I started with the hero product Moringa Oil and found out what it is used for. Research is ongoing really, and must be done if we want to make products that fit our customers’ lifestyles. Obviously, the internet is a wealth of information and websites like brownbeautytalk, blogs and social media keep us in tune to the market and what people are talking about. I also use subscriptions to industry specific services/newsletters. Local street markets especially have been a fantastic source of face to face feedback.  

Your packaging is very clean and modern, how did you decide on the look and feel of the brand?

The aesthetic matches the brand ethos, simple but bold, uncomplicated and earthy. We are selling an ingredient that has been around for thousands of years but is seeing a modern revival, and we like to think that all the ways in which Moringa Oil can be used falls in line with our modern lifestyles.

What are your future plans for the brand?

Many more products. Prioritising which products to dedicate resources to has been difficult but we will be introducing a range of gentle cleansing products as well as expanding our Moringa tea offering. The tea has done unexpectedly well and health and beauty from the inside out is so important. We hope eventually to build a vertically integrated supply chain that is even closer to the farmers we source from and supports sustainable agriculture. We also want to go mass market, promoting Moringa Oil as standard in households, much like coconut or Argan oil has become. Moringa Oil has a similar nutritive profile but is lighter in weight and absorbs better.

What are your favourite beauty products?

I love experimenting, but my go-to staples are natural, unrefined shea butter and mango butter for my skin and my hair and a range of oils, like rosehip, neem and castor, that all do different jobs. I’m a fan of clay masks for a deep cleanse. I add a bit of Moringa Oil as they can be a bit drying. Other staples include natural aloe vera, from giant aloe leaves I buy from my local health food shop, tea tree essential oil and lemon. As someone who suffered with hormonal acne for years and was encouraged to use the contraceptive pill and skin stripping chemical ointments to treat my condition, I can’t rave enough about diet. Water, flaxseed, lemon and apple cider vinegar work for me.   

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own beauty business?

Be comfortable with the financials from early on as it is easy to get caught up in the sexy stuff and let costs spiral out of control. Believe in your product but be open to advice or criticism. I continue to grow and learn about myself as a person and so should we all. I used to think I liked my own company but I’ve found that I can bore myself pretty easily.

Building a network of people who have or are going through a similar journey is important, not just for the times when you are bored of your own thoughts but for support and sharing experiences, mistakes and successes. This can make all the difference financially and emotionally.

Finally, never underestimate the importance of stress management. The network you build can help in this respect but make sure you have something that helps to calm you at those crucial moments.

You can follow Efua on Twitter and Instagram.