Feature: Belle Afrique

Happy Tuesday lovelies! 

Today I am featuring my friend Lola who makes beautiful, natural and organic cosmetics for her bespoke brand Belle Afrique. I witnessed first hand her attention to details, accuracy and passion. I was very excited to help her out with her product photography and website design. It was a fun few days and I got to examine the products closely, so I can vouch the quality and the awesomeness of the goodies. Read more below! :)

rosewater beauty product

Tell us a little bit about your business, Belle Afrique, Why and how did you start? How did you learn to make your products?

Belle Afrique is a bespoke cosmetology brand. We provide made to order natural products made from fairly traded, organic ingredients. We also offer our established lines of goodies that you can see on our website www.belleafrique.co.uk

herbs and flowers

I started on my "natural" journey over a decade ago. I was always interested in product labels on ingredients and what went into the products that we used on our skin and hair and how they interacted with, benefited (or not) my hair and skin. I then started to get more and more aware of the damage that can be caused to skin, hair and health, when exposed to some chemical ingredients and their by-products. The type of ingredients that you tend to find in most commercial beauty goods. I also loved a simple approach to looking after my hair and skin, and this curiosity combined with a need to get myself away from what seemed like lengthy beauty processes encouraged me to go on to learn more about the needs of my hair and skin. I would read the few blogs on natural hair that were around at the time, I would read about the scientific make up of afro/kinky type hair, I would see how my hair responded to not going through chemical processes, and I would seek out alternatives to the standardised harsh sounding ingredient lists of mainstream products. Trips back home to Africa also exposed me to a range of beautiful oils and butters that people used for almost everything! This became the foundation of what I do today. Combining organic and naturally sourced ingredients to produce beautifully soothing and protecting beauty and haircare products for all hair and skin types. I took some professional aromatherapy and product making courses and I am also embarking on becoming qualified as an aromatherapist.

What is your daily hair routine? Can you suggest a daily routine for the super busy lady who only has few minutes to spare?

Simplicity is key as we have a busy schedule.  Our suggested routine is in the photo below:

Afro textured hair is somewhat different in terms of its needs to Caucasian and straighter textured hair types. The main difference is in terms of the hair's needs. Our afro hair tends to need a lot of moisture, so that's a lot of water and then the use of products that lock this moisture in the hair, such as leave in conditioners and oils and vegetable or nut butters. For my hair, I use our trigger spray bottle, filled with water or rose water to add moisture to my hair and then apply Nourish, Revive or Shea Love. My hair is protected under my hijab/head scarf during the day, so I usually have my hair in flat twists or a bantu knot out underneath.

What inspires you? Is there a special place that you like to go to get inspired?

I love to travel to new places, meet new people, and to feel a sense of peace and contentment. For inspiration I usually read, pray, create vision boards of things I love or would like to do, go to a quiet place like the park in the early hours, or a beach when i'm on holiday and do some meditation and reflection. I also love to see the success of other people who are not afraid to come to the market with something new that they love. It's something I did, and I know you have to believe in yourself to be brave enough and committed enough to take the leap.

liquid clay

What do you enjoy making the most?

Aside from food...I love combining vegetable and essential oils to help people with skin complaints, like allergies, eczema, psoriasis or just simply dry/oily skins. The sense of relief that people come back to me with is beyond compare.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to travel. I try to get away at least once or twice a year for rest, relaxation, reflection and a little bit of raucousness :-) I absolutely love yoga, and more recently body balance. Both release tension from my body and enable me to wind down after practicing a series of movements to build flexibility and strength. I also enjoy going out to eat with friends and loved ones, cooking, doing my hair, making products, reading, meditating, eating cake, and learning. The list could be endless, so I will stop there.

Shea Butter

Do you have any tips for people who want to start making their hobby/passion into their business?

Hobbies are great, because we generally invest our time and efforts in things we love, so you know it will be something you enjoy. To make the leap into a business, I would say you should think about what it takes to start a business, like commitment, time, resource, and energy and see if you want to invest in these things. Understand whether your hobby is something that you can do for hours on end and still feel enthusiastic and driven. Read about successful entrepreneurs and then identify some manageable tasks or traits that you need to pick up, like time management, communication skills, networking and resilience. I would then read more specifically in those areas you are interested in, follow some blogs or social media. See what they do and pick out some of the things that can inspire you to generate your own ideas. It is never ideal to simply rely on another person's ideas, without developing your own because without passion and your own experience, people will begin to see through you, and it may be difficult for you to continue to make your own mark. A plan of action always helps along with knowing your market. Then the biggest action is to combine all this together and BEGIN! It starts with little steps. Anyone choosing to go down the road to turning their passion into a business, I wish you success and contentment.

natural hair products

Make sure to follow Belle Afrique on Instagram and Twitter  for her latest products and natural hair tips! :)