Many small business owners believe the key to entrepreneurial bliss comes with marrying their innate passion to a financial goal. Self-starter Ayo Ogun-McCants has done just that.
The self-proclaimed “mama-preneur” and beauty guru began her Soultanicals body and haircare line out of her love for DIY and a natural lifestyle. As a mom of six, she began to spend her ‘me-time’ mixing and developing products that fed her love for wellness. With a little courage, $500, and some support from her husband, Ogun-McCants, she decided to follow her dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with her to talk her beauty business, her transition into a small business owner, and her three big steps towards beginning her brand.
BlackEnterprise.com: Tell me a little about yourself, your background, and what you do for a living?
Ogun-Mcants: My name is Ayo Ogun-McCants. I am a 36-year-old homeschooling “Mama-preneur” of six, loving wife, handmade beauty guru, and soulistic creator of Soultanicals. I produce functional handmade hair and bodycare products that meet the unique needs of a natural lifestyle.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur over maintaining a traditional 9-to-5?
I have always felt the nudge to create a life that allowed me to come into my own authentic self and feel connected by my unique interests and joys. After years of allowing the rigors of a 9-5 [to] overwhelm me, I decided to align my childhood passions with tapping into the things that complemented what I love. With no former business knowledge, I signed on as a consultant with Warm Spirit, gaining some business acumen while embracing my passion for all things natural beauty. Working with Warm Spirit gave me the experience to represent a brand that empowered the very essence of myself through a nurturing spirit, love, and wellness.
Where does the inspiration and need for Soultanicals come from?
I’ve always been a DIY beauty maven. Since I was a teen I’ve dabbled in at-home facial scrubs, haircare preparations, and played with natural and organic herbs and ingredients. Self-love in the form of pampering myself became a ritual that I didn’t even know I was creating. The result was beautiful skin, healthy hair, and an unintentional sensation of confidence that people seemed to notice about me growing up. After years of allowing the rigors of life overwhelm me, I got back to the basics [and] aligned my childhood passions with creating a brand that complemented what I love, which is celebrating my me-time.
Soultanicals is inspired by my love for different cultures, traditions, and the natural richness of African design, spirit, and lifestyle because it is my heritage (‘hair-itage’) and who I am. I am a playful spirit, so my products are a reflection of all things that are complementary of me: earthy, fun, natural . . . afro-original, and are designed to produce contagious bouts of goodness and joy.
How much capital did it take to start your businesses and what three big steps did you take to begin?
Soultanicals was funded with a $500+ gift by my uber-supportive husband and a dream.
The 3 steps I’ve taken to achieve this feat are:
1. Finding my niche. I knew that my field of natural beauty was crowded with many brands competing for share of the consumer’s attention. In order for my brand to stand out, I had to create a line that distinguished me from what’s already available. I knew that I had to be different, unique, and better. This allowed me to identify who my ideal target consumer base was and create products that attracted customers who valued what I had to offer.
2. Becoming an expert in my field. I love mixing, stirring, and formulating botanical ingredients that meet the unique needs of a natural, self-loving lifestyle. However, the need to be great at what I do, resulted in me spending 5+ years in market research and development to create solid products prior to launching Soultanicals. Being able to create realistic expectations for my customers by gaining their trust showed through my expertise.
3. Understanding what needs my products fulfill. The challenges I experienced combing through tearful hair-detangling sessions with my daughter, and my heightened sense of responsibility [for] finding a manageable solution, became the seeds for Soultanicals. Discovering what needs my products fulfilled allowed me to market myself efficiently because I had a need.