When it comes to beauty here at 21, we believe supporting Nigerian beauty brands is the way to go. The Nigerian beauty industry rakes in millions every year as we all love to look and feel our best and would ordinarily spare no expense to achieve the desired results. However, only a small fraction of the revenue is retained within the Nigerian economy as many prefer to shop from foreign brands neglecting the gems within our society. Now more than ever is the time to support local businesses and in honour of this, we spoke with skincare connoisseur, blogger and now beauty entrepreneur Tejiri Arigbodi, founder of luxury body care brand, Skin By Tej. We talked about all things relating to building a luxury body care empire for women of colour here in Nigeria.
In this interview, the skincare enthusiast spills some tea on facials, maintaining a work/life balance, breaking into the beauty industry, the woes of starting a beauty brand in Nigeria, her new body care line Skin By Tej and of course the importance of self-care.
Skin By Tej (@SkinByTej)
Hi Tejiri! So Tell Me About Yourself?
My name is Tejiri Arigbodi. I am a skincare blogger/enthusiast, chemical engineer and founder of ‘Skin by Tej’. I eat, sleep and breathe skincare, just joking!
You’ve Been Making Skin Care Content On Social Media For Years Now. What Is Your Earliest Memory Of Being Introduced To The World Of Skincare?
Growing up, my mum made sure all her children had a skincare routine. I remember how she gave me the whole set of Clean and Clear in secondary school along with face masks and everyone knew me for always doing one thing or the other to my skin. At the time I did not have any skin issues, no acne or hyperpigmentation but my mum would give me these products to try and it was fun and really exciting.
My mum opened a spa and would always bring up how she noticed I was passionate about skincare and would encourage me to explore it more, but I never really gave it much thought. However, prior to starting my skincare blog (IG: @Skincarebytej) a few years ago, I felt like I didn’t have a purpose and would often pray asking for what could be my purpose. My mum kept nudging me to go into skincare and when I started doing my own research about it, I fell in love with it and have not looked back since. I have come to see skincare as a natural part of who I am.
What Made You Want To Start Your Body Care Brand Skin By Tej?
During lockdown last year, I was getting a lot of questions relating to body care. We were all at home and people were trying to make the most of the situation by taking care of themselves, their skin and health in general. There seemed to be a frenzy about body care and a lot of people kept asking me for product recommendations. If I am being honest, I was only using shea butter at the time which for me was nothing special. As a skincare blogger, this made me research more on body care brands and products. I noticed a huge gap as there were significantly less body care brands and products available in the market in comparison to products catering to your facial skin. It was a light bulb moment for me and I instantly said to myself, “omg! I can start my own body care line.”
Also, with the experience I have as a skincare blogger, I am aware it is difficult for us women of colour to find beauty products suited to our skin. I love luxury skincare but it is mainly formulated for Caucasian women because there is this belief that African and African-American women are not deserving of having luxury skincare products tailored to suit their needs. I am sure I do not need to convince you that this assumption is not true. As a result, I wanted the niche of Skin By Tej to be a luxury body care line formulated and created for women of colour.
What Is One Hurdle You Did Not See Coming When You Decided To Enter The Beauty Industry?
One hurdle I did not see coming when I decided to enter the beauty industry was how hard it would be to gain people’s acceptance and trust at the initial stage. I knew not everyone would trust me and my brand simply because I say it is good. I quickly found out it is very difficult to gain people’s trust especially with a new brand because people are very sceptical when it comes to incorporating new products into their routine and are even more wary when it comes to products made here in Nigeria. I also discovered a lot of people would rather buy from foreign brands made for Caucasian women than focus on what is produced especially for women of colour here in Nigeria.
What Is Your Favourite Part Of The Process Of Creating Your Own Body Care Products?
My favourite part of the process is the packaging. When we were designing the packaging for the products I wanted something different. I enjoyed the process of creating something unique and distinct. A lot of thought went into the packaging of the products because I wanted something simple yet classy that would overall embody the brand. The packaging process showed me how creative I can be.
Why Did You Choose Glycolic Acid As The Main Active Ingredient In The Body Serum and Moisturizer?
I chose glycolic acid as the main active ingredient in ‘Serum Me’ (Body Serum) and ‘Potion Lotion’ (Body Moisturizer) for several reasons. After extensive research I found out glycolic acid works really well for coloured skin tones. People of colour are prone to hyperpigmentation and glycolic acid is amazing at targeting those skin concerns and has worked effectively for me and those I have introduced it to. Glycolic acid is an amazing active ingredient, it’s hydrating, perfect for all skin types, and it pairs well with other ingredients especially with the ones in the body serum and moisturizer. It’s a powerful ingredient people tend to overlook.
What Are Three Beauty Products You Cannot Live Without?
Three beauty products I cannot live without will have to be my Clarins lip oil, an eyebrow pencil and any spf 50.
Being An Engineer while Growing Your Own Beauty Brand At The Same Time Can’t Be Easy. How Are You Able To Maintain A Work/Life Balance?
I can tell you for free that building my career as a chemical engineer alongside building my beauty company is by no means easy. I currently do not have any help, so I do all the planning and sending out orders myself and still combine it with blogging. It can be quite overwhelming sometimes to say the least.
I am aware a lot of things require my attention but I am learning to focus on one thing at a time. When I am at work, I focus on work. When it’s time to wear the CEO hat, I focus on that. Planning content in advance for Skin by Tej has been a life saver when it comes to balancing everything on my plate right now. Making time to relax is also important to me and proper planning has been super helpful though I am still learning as I go along.
Speaking Of Relaxing, How Do You Define Self-Care and What Does That Look Like For You On A Daily Basis?
Self-care to me is anything you do to take care of yourself. It can be as simple as washing your face twice a day or making sure you are getting enough sleep at night. There is no hard and fast rule to it for me as I believe what constitutes self care differs from one person to another. Self-care for me on a daily basis is being consistent with my skincare routine, putting on sunscreen and ensuring I am taking care of my mind.
What Would You Say Sets Skin By Tej Apart From Other Beauty Brands In The Industry?
What sets Skin By Tej apart from other beauty brands is our niche, which is a luxury body care brand for people of colour created by a black woman which is a rarity. Also, our three step body care routine was created to give you the same experience as doing your regular face routine but for your body.
Who Is Someone You Look Up To In The Beauty Industry And Why?
Caroline Hirons is someone I look up to in the beauty industry. She has always been an inspiration to me. She is my go-to skincare guru. She knows the ins and out of skincare plus, her content is amazing.
I Love Your Facial Series On Instagram! What Is Your Favourite Type Of Facial To Get And Why Do You Think Regular Facials Should Be A Crucial Part Of Any Skincare Routine?
I started the facial series on my Instagram skincare blog to raise awareness, as most people do not know how important getting regular facials at least once a month is for the health of your skin. Nothing beats professional facials, not even at home facials. One of my favourites is a HydraFacial, the hydration you get is unbeatable and I’m obsessed!
I’ll Definitely Try It Out. When It Comes To Beauty Products, Would You Say Price Equals Quality?
I would have to disagree that price equals quality when it comes to skincare as I have used high end products in the past and they were just not worth the hype. It all depends on your skin type, skin needs and the ingredient list of the products and this goes for all price ranges of skincare. However, the price does play a part in some cases but overall it is important to learn about your skin and what works for you.
What Advice Would You Give To Anyone Wanting To Break Into The Beauty Industry?
Be true to yourself. If you want to break into the beauty industry make sure it is something you are passionate about and not because everyone else is doing it. The passion will drive you. Be true to yourself and everything will fall into place.
When Can We Expect The Next Drop Of Products From Skin By Tej?
The next drop is ready and I am so excited for it. Ironically, it has nothing to do with body care. It’ll be out in the market next year, so watch out for it!
Can’t Wait! Where Do You Hope To See Your Brand Skin By Tej In The Next Five Years?
My vision and goal in the next five years is to see Skin By Tej as an international brand. I hope to see Skin By Tej in big beauty stores across the globe. My main focus during the creation process was to create a brand and develop quality products that can compare and compete favourably and even exceed foreign products. I would like to believe I nailed the concept. There is so much in store for Skin By Tej and I can’t wait to share it with the world.