Lauren Sutton Photography - Canberra Photographer

Joanne Okpa

[Skincare Formulator]

Name

Joanne Okpa

Makes

Skincare formulator at Tekoa Skincare

Find Joanne here

@tekoaskincare

tekoaskincare.com

In store at Pop Canberra on Lonsdale Street, Braddon

The Beginning

Making skincare products had been a hobby of mine for about 5 or so years. It started after I moved back to the UK after living in Nigeria for 3.5 years then in May of 2019, I felt it was time to explore turning my hobby into a business and seeing what that looked like. I proceeded to perfect my body butter for the market and launched in November with 3 products, Moisturizing Body Butter Whip, Lip Balm and Facial Elixir.

At first, I was very nervous about starting Tekoa Skincare, there were elements of excitement too, as there would be with anything new and I’m generally a risk taker. However, having worked in the Hospitality industry in the UK, West Africa and my time in Australia, for 14 years, moving into the beauty industry was a risk as it was and still is very new to me but I made my mind up that if I was to succeed in this business I would need to learn each day about the industry. This journey is something I’m still on, but the joy is that I get to create and journey with people on their way to the best skin for themselves.

I’m Nigerian, born in London, grew up in Scotland and I’ve been living in Canberra for just over 3 years. I consider Canberra to be home, difficult to say seeing as I’ve lived in other countries, but I’d like to set up roots here in the ACT and setting up a business makes it permanent.

The Process

A day in my life when I'm creating looks like lots of glass bottles, bowls, music and my notepad. I plan what I need to make that day, either fulfilling orders, trialing out something new or just doing some photography, I always make sure my environment and mind is clear so my creativity can thrive.

I like researching ingredients, knowing what their benefits are and the best way to use them. When I come across something new, I automatically have ideas and then test them out. Sometimes they go horribly wrong and most times come out with great promise. Because my products are plant and oil based, I have a list of willing human testers always ready to try out new products and give feedback. Upon receiving feedback, I may tweak the formula a little and plan a launch.

At the moment I create in my kitchen and on my dining room table. I hope to have a designated space soon.

I try as much as possible to have a social life, but my overactive mind is always on and thinking up new possibilities. When I’m creating, I’m very present in that moment and intentional, but honestly speaking, at this point in time the line defining the work play balance is blurred. I don’t consider this necessarily bad but it’s the stage I’m in.

Inspiration

My inspiration comes from seeing how beautiful the skin of my grandmother and the women before her in their generation looked with Shea Butter. Being African and having a connection to my heritage, I have come to learn the simplicity that was the skincare routine of my ancestors, using what nature gave them and seeing how healthy and glowing their skin and hair looked. Nature has given us so much for our bodies and I love using what we have available to its fullest potential. 

Whenever I lack inspiration, I get out my notepad and randomly write things down, spider graphs are my favorite pre planning too, I’m always on Instagram for inspiration and if that fails I sleep, either way I sleep haha, when I sleep ideas come to me.

At the moment since starting Tekoa Skincare, I haven’t found a new hobby. I do however love cooking but that for me isn’t a hobby. I dabbled in beaded jewelry when I was 16 after seeing a lady on the streets of San Francisco make beautiful pieces, so maybe I could explore that again. 

Future

I would love to have my products in more stores and build a community of healthy skin loving folk. I want to show people that less is more, and you don’t need a myriad of bottles, products and jars when you can have a few that are multipurpose and your skin loves. I plan on growing Tekoa Skincare in the best way I can, but not expecting to be all things to all people. There are amazing skincare companies in Canberra and the local surroundings that I admire, and I never want to put out a competitive vibe, but I feel there’s room at the table for all of us.

At the moment I do plan on staying in Canberra, I feel Canberra is ripe for so many industries and it’ll be my pleasure to cater to Canberrans especially in winter haha.

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