Entrepreneur From Ghana Launches Skincare Line Which Employs Marginalized African Women

This article is part of an exciting series we launched in 2018 called Today’s Wonder Women – designed to celebrate the inspiring, impactful, empowering and extraordinary things ordinary women are doingevery day. Over the coming months we will be sharing interviews, essays, articles and guest posts about women who are creating change. If you have a story to share and want to add your voice to the Today’s Wonder Women conversation, get in touch by emailing info@girltalkhq.com.  

Back home in Ghana, West Africa, great grandma could cure ailments with time-honored natural remedies, and women of all ages relied on native ingredients for the most radiant skin. The land was rich with healing and nurturing properties that would one day make their way into skincare products around the globe.

These snapshots have made an indelible impact on Ghana, West Africa-born, and British-trained esthetician, Margaret Ackah–Yensu. Today, she proudly carries on her country’s traditions as the co-founder of the all-natural beauty line Tulii Skincare. With a homeopathic spirit grounded in rigorous scientific testing, Margaret and Tulii are transforming the way we approach skincare.

Margaret’s passion for healthy skin has been lifelong. At just 15, she recalls flipping through a magazine to a picture with a woman receiving a facial, and showing her father the image with a “this is what I want to do with my life” intent. Her parents were enterprising spirits, and they supported her unique career path. By 16, Margaret left Ghana to attend beauty school in England. Post-graduation, she moved to New York to commence her professional life. 

Upon moving to her New York, her stunning looks attracted world-renowned modeling agency Elite. However, the pull of the health and wellness perspective on beauty would lure her back to her chosen path. After NYU, Margaret began to formulate a vision of using natural oils for skincare, noting the possibilities on a spreadsheet of ingredients. 

Rose Aziz co-founder of Tulii Skincare

Margaret co-founded Tulii Skincare with US-trained biochemist, botanist, and skincare expert Rose Aziz. Margaret’s bold entrepreneurial spirit is the perfect foil for Rose’s innovative, scientific, and clinical perspective. Together, the duo brings Tulii’s deep commitment to social consciousness, environmentally sustainable economic growth, and global female empowerment.

A friend introduced her to Rose who was tapped into the history and culture of Africa. The two travelled to Tanzania to experience firsthand the Moringa tree-derived skincare remedies Rose was experimenting with, and upon coming returning back to the US, the two formulated their partnership.

Tulii is the culmination of nearly two decades of Margaret’s skincare expertise working in the beauty, health and wellness industries. Tulii directly supports small, local businesses and employs many marginalized women from underprivileged areas in Tanzania. Tulii pays them a fair rate to cultivate product and distill oil, creating a long-term partnership to help support these women economically, while empowering them, and teaching them valuable skills.

At the center of Tulii is the Moringa Tree also known as the “Tree of Life.” The Moringa Tree has existed for centuries as a miracle powerhouse plant with multiple vitamins, proteins and antioxidants that aid in anti-aging. It is the only plant whose leaves contain amino acids, and Tulii is the only product on the market to utilize these powerful leaves. Launched in late 2018 and poised to disrupt the beauty market in a dynamic way, Tulii is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Margaret. We spoke with the entrepreneur about her brand and what she hopes to share with the world.

Tell us about growing up in Ghana and how you made the leap to the UK and then the US?

I grew up in a country where people felt connected to nature and in a symbiotic relationship to the environment around them. We relied on nature for our health and vitality and in turn felt as though we were stewards of the natural resources around us.

In Ghana, I grew up watching my grandmother and my grand aunt using natural herbs and oils for healing and wellness. This environment sparked a personal connection to nature and a curiosity about the broader world especially to learn how different cultures experienced and manifested healing and wellness. This desire led me to the UK to study beauty therapy at a young age to expand my knowledge in this field. My education gave me a more formal scientific understanding of skincare and synergies with natural remedies that I was exposed to in Ghana.

Where did your passion for skincare and beauty come from?

My background and heritage have shaped this passion. To me beauty is not just superficial. Caring for one’s skin is about health and personal wellness, like caring for your heart or any other vital organ. And I view it as a fundamental need.

You launched a beauty line in the Fall of 2018 which you co-founded with your partner. Can you tell us about Tulii and where the products are available?

Although we just launched the product line, it’s been many years in the making. Through years of expertise and research, many iterations of the product, and testing we reached optimum efficacy level. That’s when we decided to put Tulii on the market. We currently sell the product on line through a couple of third-party e-commerce sites. We are poised to be in a couple of brick and mortar stores in 2019.

How did you meet Rose, your co-founder? And what is her background that made you both a good fit?

I was introduced to my partner, Rose Aziz, through a mutual friend who was aware of our shared passion and similar backgrounds. Rose had grown up in Tanzania and came to the U.S. for college. She received a degree in biochemistry and a MBA. Rose then worked at major cosmetics companies for a number of years before returning to Tanzania to pursue her interest in creating natural skincare products.

She pioneered an approach to developing 100% natural products that are designed to address various skin conditions. Because of their amazing properties she has focused on the use of Moringa leaves to create a uniquely effective active ingredient. The Moringa Tree is the foundation for Tulii products. Most importantly, our shared views on social entrepreneurship and giving back to local African communities is what made us formalize our partnership.

Tulii’s secret ingredient are the leaves and oil from the Moringa Tree. What is about this tree that is good for skincare?

Our focus on the use of Moringa leaves is unique. We have a unique approach to distill the oil from the Moringa leaves. Our research has shown that Moringa leaves have exceptional amounts of the nutrients that promote skin health. For example, Moringa is the only plant with naturally-occurring amino acids, which are so important for skin health.

Tanzanian Women working with Tulii skincare | Tulii Facecook

What does “Tulii” mean and how does it pay homage to your African heritage?

Tulii means “calmly” in Swahili, and that’s our brand’s approach to skincare. The name embodies the symbiotic and unperturbed connection between people and nature that I grew up observing in Ghana.

How do you and Rose hope to disrupt the beauty market with this product, and disrupt the narrow, Westernized ideals of beauty among women of color?

Skin, regardless of ethnicity or race, exhibits the same characteristics and is affected by similar conditions and deficiencies. Tulii’s unique botanical blend is effective across all ethnic and racial groups. 

When people think of health, beauty, and vitality, Africa should be the first continent to come to mind because of the abundance of the botanic healing resources and because of the rich history utilizing the potent natural resources to promote health beauty and vitality. But, that’s not always the case. Tulii’s unique active ingredients have been pioneered to take advantage of authentic and effective African-sourced ingredients.

Tulii is about a long-term approach to improving skin health. Although the benefits of the products can be seen very quickly, our focus is on improving, restoring and maintaining skin health at a cellular level over the long-term. Our focus is on providing effective natural solutions for challenging skin conditions and improving long term skin health.

Not only is this a revolutionary skincare product, it also has an important social cause attached to it. Can you tell us about empowering marginalized women and encouraging entrepreneurship?

Both Rose and I view ourselves as part of a broader movement and believe that our success is tied to our broader environment. So, there is no other way for us to approach the business. We partner with marginalized women in Tanzania to grow and cultivate the leaves and also in the production of our product. Giving back to the local communities is something we have always believed in.

You started this line without any funding. How difficult was this, and how did you persevere to get where you are today?

Yes, we have proceeded without any funding. It has given us the flexibility to grow and develop at our own pace. Although it’s been challenging at times, it has been incredibly rewarding. We view this as a cause larger than ourselves, and that’s what propels us to persevere.

The opportunity to create highly effective products that address skincare conditions that people are struggling with and also to support and empower marginalized women in Africa is pursuing our dream.

How do you hope Tulii will impact women around the world, and especially African women?

We want our brand to embody authenticity and install a sense of pride in African women.  We want to help women around the globe enjoy the confidence that comes from having healthy, radiant skin.

Tanzanian Women working with Tulii skincare | Tulii Facebook

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who have an idea for a business but don’t know where to start? And how would you encourage them with self-motivation?

Just know that don’t have to have everything figured out in advance. From whatever vantage point you are at, just start the pursuit of your vision and go from there. It might be as simple as writing the idea down and talking with friends about it.

We tend to underestimate the resources that we have around us. Once you put your vision in motion, you’ll be surprised how many resources are available to you. It’s important to recognize these resources that you have access to. Patience is a critical resource. Belief is a critical resource.

It is important to have a deep connection with your vision. Because that connection / conviction is what could motivate you to keep going despite the challenges. I have to attribute it to serendipity, but having a great partner makes the journey much more enjoyable.

What makes you a powerful woman?

Confidence: I think that what makes a powerful woman is not to let others define whether you are powerful or not.

Feeling connected: Being an engaged observer of the world around you and giving yourself the freedom to use the information that you are taking in to shape how you are going to navigate through life. 

Using the power you have harnessed to bring others along with you: The key is to be connected to a source or objective that is greater than yourself. Anytime that you can connect to the source and understand where your energy, your creativity and joy come from, I consider that authentic power.


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