Sipho Gumbo, the President + Founder of Yangu Beauty, sought out a leading expert in skincare chemistry to help transform her authentic recipes into a skincare line for today’s modern woman.
Tell us why you choose the skincare industry?
I have super sensitive skin, dealing with break out and not finding a solution on the market led me to think of oils that my grandmother used to tell us about when I was growing up in rural Zimbabwe. In a way I did not choose the industry, it was a way of finding a solution to my skincare issue. My search for gentler products that would work on my skin and on my daughter’s, drove me to find a solution. This led me to a revelation that very few products on the market were created with women of color skin problems in my mind. My discussions with many women of color proved that the skincare industry was not prioritizing the needs of women of color. They were just an after-thought market that would have a popular celebrity of the time used in the advertisement with no regard as to whether the products really worked for them.
What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about women believing in themselves. Women knowing that they are beautiful, intelligent, and have a role to play in this world. It is the reason, Yangu Beauty (My Beauty in Shona and Kiswahili) focuses on the women from those who help collect the ingredients, process the oils, and now those who market it. It is all about women supporting women. Most of all I am passionate about women getting an education. I have been an advocate for education through the nonprofit I founded 17 years ago. Munhu (www.munhuinc.org) supports children orphaned by AIDS in Zimbabwe. We pay their tuition from elementary school to college. It is through education that anyone can change their circumstances. I am proof of that and so are the students Munhu supports.
What is the most important thing you want people to know about your country?
Zimbabwe is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The people are loving, generous, and kind. It is a country that values education and has one of the most educated people with a literacy rate of more than 80%. It is a resource and culturally rich country. It is the reason I have tried to share the story of our natural resources that are available. It is not just the ingredients in Yangu Beauty. The country has natural resources like gold, platinum, lithium too many minerals to name here. Lastly, the natural beauty of the country is worth a trip to Zimbabwe. From the Victoria Falls to Great Zimbabwe ruins, there is so much to learn and explore, and for those into wildlife, Zimbabwe is the best place for a safari trip it still boasts the largest herd of elephants in the world.
As a woman of color, what challenges have you faced along your journey?
The challenges are just too many to list on this page. I will highlight the most glaring. The business simply needs money to run. There are few funders who look at a black-owned business and see success. I have read about people being funded with ideas on a napkin, this is not the case for women of color or men for that matter. You may have the most brilliant idea, but people simply will not give the money. The other challenge is getting support in terms of general business advice. I believe that when you are a start-up you need some guidance so that you do not make unnecessary mistakes. Access to retail was another stumbling block. You have to hit certain milestones for retailers to look at you, but you cannot hit these milestones when you do not have the funding. For a moment you feel like a dog chasing its own tail.
What is one life lesson you have learned that can help our readers?
In life one tool one has to have in their toolbox is a quality education. With education the road may be rugged but, education is the best compass you can hold on to in order to get your life’s directions from. There has been a lot of criticisms lately of MBAs, college education, etc. I still feel that it is interesting that those who sling these criticisms are educated themselves. Get an education and it will always be an asset no matter where you are in the world. It is an asset you can take with you everywhere. Education allows you to explore possibilities you never knew existed.
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