Olayinka & Saba of Melanin Essentials
Here at BLK + GRN, we are committed to elevating innovative Black artisans. Each week, we will share the stories of the BLK + GRN artisans behind your favorite products.
Learn more about how they're bringing their mission and commitment of creating high-quality, non-toxic products to the world!
This week we're talking to Olayinka & Saba who on the journey to embracing the uniqueness of their curls, coils, and kinks, created a business to have other women do the same!
BLKGRN: What’s your favorite black-owned brand on BLK + GRN?
OLAYINKA: I can’t choose one, but my top six are Hunny Bunny, Unsun, and Bloomsbury Square.
SABA: This is tough because there are so many well-branded products with great missions! But I am eager to try the Choiselle coconut wax candles, handmade jewelry by Mahnal, and Mischo Beauty nail lacquer.
BLKGRN: Why do you think it is important to Buy Black?
SABA: For the black community specifically, we are already starting off as a systematically oppressed and undeserved community. We need to build up our fellow small business owners, start-ups, and entrepreneurs who have the same skills, talents, and experiences as other people but many times lack the resources and support to allow their businesses to thrive.
OLAYINKA: As a sociologist, one of the most interesting facts and trends that I see is that the power of the Jewish and Korean dollar in their community allows them to build powerful communities and resources due to the dedication and support of their own people. However, the black dollar is spent almost everywhere else but within our own community. As more platforms are created to incentivize black consumers using their dollars on black businesses, our communities will, too, get stronger.
BLKGRN: What’s your self-care routine?
OLAYINKA: As a mom of three, it’s really hard to find self-care time and you rarely do things for yourself. So, what I’ve been doing more is finding time away from home. Usually, I go out to eat alone or go to the mall to buy myself something or get my eyebrows done. My main goal here is to refrain from buying something for my husband and children so that I can intentionally focus on my needs. I want to get to the point where I am incorporating consistent hair and skin regimes, but I am not there yet. Soon!
SABA: I enjoy eating plant-based foods as much as I can, try to incorporate morning devotionals along with some herbal tea, and sticking to my facial regimen. Particularly Fridays or Sundays, I like to wind down with an at-home mani or pedi (or hair and facial masks) and watch telenovelas. And lastly, I enjoy down-sizing my belongings to create a more open home and build my capsule wardrobe because, for me, minimalism is a great thing, and I find joy in simplicity.
BLKGRN: What's on your vanity and what’s in your purse?
OLAYINKA: I keep my everyday essentials on my vanity. Makeup kit, all-natural, chemical-free deodorant, Melanin Essentials Skin Enhancing Body Butter, and all-natural, chemical-free soap on my vanity. In my purse, there’s usually my planner, compact, carry-along bible, all natural, chemical-free chapstick, Melanin Essentials travel size body butter, pens, and a highlighter.
SABA: On my dresser, I have my homemade facial regimen, Acquarella nail polish, natural pit balm, and RMS beauty makeup. In my bookbag, I always keep my Melanin Essentials body butter along with my passion planner and pencil case with me.
BLKGRN: Anything else coming soon?
Right now, we are focusing on expanding our body products, so you can expect the launch of a new body product by this summer. Our biggest and most desired product launch is our hair conditioning system, which is taking a larger financial investment, but it’s in the works!
BLKGRN: Why do you do what you do?
OLAYINKA: My name is Olayinka Credle, and I, along with my co-founder, Saba Williams, create organic hair and body products for women of color who deal with the time and maintenance struggle of curly/kinky hair. I do this because I used to feel shame and discontentment being a black woman with kinky hair, which was only because my hair type wasn’t maintained with the right products nor advertised in a positive light.
SABA: I, too, struggled with my perception of beauty at a young age because I went to a school where I was one of the three black girls in my class. There, I always noticed the difference between my hair experience and those of my friends, and it weighed on me because my hair seemed too complicated (i.e. shower caps/plastic bags in the pool). I do this because I am all about empowerment and enjoy hearing the stories of how people have experienced breakthroughs from using our products, especially after years of experiencing problems with their skin and hair.
BLKGRN: What was your "Aha Moment" and when did your vision start to manifest?
SABA: It all started when we decided to stop relaxing our hair and committed to embracing our natural kinks and curls in 2010. As we embarked on this journey, we realized that there weren’t many products tailored to our hair texture that worked, and we struggled through a lot of trial and error for two years with products that claimed to enhance our curls. So, in 2012, we headed to the kitchen of our college townhome and began formulating our own natural products. Olayinka focused on hair, while I concentrated on body products. At this time, we had no dreams nor aspirations of starting a business. It was just a pain point that we refused to experience any longer.
OLAYINKA: Once we started using our own homemade products, the word began to catch wind and our friends and families started using them as well. Then, a good friend recommended us to enter a local social enterprise business competition that started with a 12-week incubator night class that was designed to help us (and 9 other entrepreneurs) establish our business model, brand, and mission. After the classes, we brought our idea to the local community and raised $8,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. From here, we were selected as one of the five finalists to pitch our business idea to a panel of judges and a sold-out auditorium of 300 people. We took first place and used the resources, business pro-bono services, and $7,500 cash prize to launch Melanin Essentials.
BLKGRN: How is your brand green? Why was this important to you?
Only use certified organic, all-natural, and chemical-free ingredients
Natural, plant-based scents
No artificial coloring
Non-GMO + cruelty-free
Biodegradable and recyclable packing materials
This is important to us because we know and have experienced first-hand the potency of raw, all-natural ingredients and how, when paired intentionally, they can make powerful products that are eco-friendly, skin-friendly, and even work better than your commercial products due to their richness and ingredient properties.
BLKGRN: What need do you currently see being unmet that you address?
We address the lack of access to quality and chemical-free products for people of color. Our primary target market is women, but we can’t forget about our men.