‘African botanicals are part of my heritage, and the ingredients speak for themselves,’ says Maryann Okoro
Numerous businesses and non-profit organizations open and move regularly in Saskatoon. Today, the StarPhoenix talks to Maryann Okoro, who opened Kambiio Skincare online in August 2021.
Okoro was interested in skin care since her childhood days growing up in Nigeria. When she moved to Saskatoon about four years ago she took a skin care course and learned that the pharmaceutical background she gained from time she had spent in Dublin, Ireland, gave her strong insights at creating her own skin care products. She quickly realized that African ingredients offered many benefits in skin care, and made it a priority to incorporate African botanicals into her products.
Q: What stands out to you from that skin care course?
A: The course talked about the skin care and beauty industry and a little bit about regulation and stability and preservatives. When I got into the course, I started to see that anybody really can do this. You can actually prepare your own product. I felt like, there was a way of doing this without using a pharmaceutical facility and I think that was the first thing that intrigued me. I just started learning about a lot of ingredients and about the skin and different skin care products for different skin types.
Q: What products do you sell?
A: Currently we have two products. One is Excel Radiance Oil Serum, which is for radiance and nourishment. That is mostly for people who have dry, dull and dehydrated skin. It’s meant to be used in the morning. And the other one is the Dreamer Refining Oil Serum and is for people who have oily skin. There are a lot of refining antioxidant ingredients, as well as African botanicals. I use African botanicals in our products. I’m hoping to have some more products at the end of the summer.
Q: How do African botanicals enhance your products?
A: I remember when I was studying we were looking into Amazonian waters and ingredients and I just said, let me research about African ingredients. From my research, I just knew that I wanted to tie that to Kambiio. I wanted to come back to my roots and just have that connection.
Most of these ingredients have been used for generations in Africa. The efficacy of these ingredients has been challenged; there have been a lot of clinical studies done on most of these ingredients. So I knew that I was going to put this type of ingredient in the product that I was making. African botanicals are part of my heritage, and the ingredients speak for themselves.
Q: Where does the name Kambiio come from?
A: The name also originates from Africa. I got the name Kambiio from the word kambiri, which is an African Igbo word meaning to come alive. It’s an expression of restoration, beauty and radiance. When you think about something coming alive, you’re trying to revive that thing. You’re trying to restore it. So for me, the entire company is an expression of beauty and restoration.
Q: What makes your skin care product stand out from others?
A: The story inspired by my African heritage. My branding sort of tells the story about that whole connection to Africa. And then we also use innovative words to empower with our product names (Excel and Dreamer). Anybody using Kambiio products we want them to have an empowering attitude. Then in terms of our ingredients, we use all refined ingredients, extra virgin ingredients as well as organic ingredients.
Everything that we do is third-party tested to ensure quality assurance, which is very important to me — like heavy metal testing, microbial testing, we do all that before having the product for sale. So we want to ensure that we are creating products for optimal radiance and vitality, and also ensuring that we’re bringing out a special and essential skin care product.
Q: Do you use fragrance or essential oils in your products?
A: The two products that we have right now are without essential oils or any fragrance. But because we’re using all refined ingredients, you will still get the natural scent of the ingredients coming through. So the scent is not bland. But these two products do not have any added essential oils or perfumes.
Q: Do you make the products yourself?
A: I do all the groundwork and the formulation. And then, because I mostly work from home, I don’t want to make it from my kitchen counter so I have a lab in Ontario doing the production. All the formulations are mine and then I send the formulation sheet and extra information that they need to do the production.
Q: What new products are you developing?
A: We’re working toward releasing two new products by the end of the summer, or earlier. One of our products will be a brightening toning essence, which will really go very well with our Excel Radiance Oil Serum. We’re going to be using a lot of African botanical active extracts and green tea as well. It’s still in progress. And then we’re also going to have a cleansing oil product, a makeup dissolver.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Owner: Maryann Okoro
Phone: 639-317-7541Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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