Celmira Amade is a young Mozambican entrepreneur, who is currently disrupting the black beauty industry with her revolutionary TSAKA face mask aimed at melanin -rich skin.
Taking time out from her busy schedule, Celmira graciously answered my questions and provided valuable insight into the challenges of running a truly global business – she splits her time between the UK and her native Mozambique. Furthermore, Celmira has proven to be a true inspiration by launching her business while in the midst of her studies.
1. What inspired you to launch TSAKA?
When I moved to England in 2010, I experienced dry skin, blemishes and acne for the first time. Out of desperation, I tried several mainstream skincare products: premium, organic, affordable – you name it! Seven days a week, I covered my face in layers of foundation to hide my skin condition, and at night I experimented with various creams in the hope of improving my skin.
In retrospect, I guess my first tipping point to start TSAKA was being offered a skin bleaching cream while in a specialist beauty store in England. That day, I thought that my chest was going to pop, and I would say something that I would regret.
In December 2010, I went home for the Christmas holidays 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 face mask 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. And I thought to myself, if not now, then when?
2. You are currently studying Entrepreneurship at the Judge Business School (University of Cambridge), how do you combine your studies with working on TSAKA?
I submitted my thesis about three weeks ago, and I can now focus on TSAKA only.
3. What are the challenges of working between Mozambique and the UK?
I really enjoy having the opportunity to switch work scenarios, but sometimes I find it challenging, to switch my speaking and writing from English to Portuguese. Working between Mozambique and the UK allows me to connect with stakeholders in a more personal way through face-to-face communication – this allows our goals and values to remain aligned.
4. How large is your current team?
We are a team of four incorporating, Sales, Production, Finance and Strategy.
5. What has the reaction been like towards TSAKA so far?
People are curious they want to learn more about me, the ingredients and ultimately try the product. People often confuse the TSAKA mask with a clay mask. The TSAKA mask is not a clay mask. It is a watery paste that dries on your face after just over 30 minutes. For first time users, this sometimes causes confusion as they usually expect a thick paste similar to a clay mask… The TSAKA beauties who have used the mask for a good three weeks have reported back, saying that their skin felt clearer, smoother, brighter and firmer – and that is great news for us.
6. It has been reported that black women in the UK spend six times more* on hair and beauty products than their white counterparts, how do you propose to obtain a slice of this lucrative market?
By providing natural beauty options for melanin rich skin that have long been ignored by major brands. 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 consumers about our novel ingredients and the benefits: allowing our users to fall in love with one product before trying the next one. Our first skincare product is the TSAKA Mask – a deep clean face mask, with anti- inflammatory and smoothing properties, a great addition for blemish prone skin and post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Our next product – a face oil to remove dark spots and scarring on the skin is currently undergoing development.
7. The majority of ‘ethnic’ beauty brands are sold through independent retailers and via wholesalers, where can TSAKA be purchased from?
Directly from our website: www.tsaka.co.uk.
8. What impact does social media have on your business?
Social media is our voice and where most people learn more about our products.
9. You are committed to donating 2% of your profits back to the communities where the TSAKA ingredients are sourced from, would you define your business model as a social enterprise?
We don’t donate 2% of our profits, we invest in our farmers and their children. Utilising beauty as a platform to sprinkle happiness and create thriving communities: by providing farmers with the necessary harvesting equipment, and their children with personalised academic support and mentor-ship to also succeed in secondary school and beyond.
In the UK, we plan to work with the youth through 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.
10. If you did not have your current business, what would be the alternative plan?
I would probably be figuring out how to start my current business.
11. Where do you see TSAKA in three to five years time?
Stocked in spas, UK department stores and online beauty retailers. Together we will be one step closer to providing healthy skincare alternatives for men and women of colour and to reduce the popularity of harmful chemicals in beauty products.
12. What advice would you give to anyone seeking to launch their own beauty product?
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.
13. How do you relax?
A morning jog or an evening yoga session.
For further information please visit: www.tsaka.co.uk