While working at a talent agency in Los Angeles, Nyakio Kamoche-Grieco was exposed to beauty brands from all over the globe. Noticeably missing, she realized, were the rich ingredients of her parents’ homeland. In her mind, this was an underrepresentation of the sophistication of Africa.
After 7 years of climbing the entertainment industry ladder, Nyakio Kamoche rethought her life, and consequently developed a new masterplan: to bring Africa to the masses in pure luxury and old-age secrets, through a skin care line named after herself- Nyakio.
“At the time I began to seriously consider switching careers, I conducted a deep dive audit into beauty brands. My parents are educators and historians; research is in my DNA! I found that many cultures were represented in the world of beauty, but Africa was missing. This realization helped me determine my brand’s proposition: it would pay homage to my family’s heritage, and also fill a gap in the marketplace, bringing the timeless beauty traditions and sophistication of Africa to women everywhere.”
Nyakio notes that she started researching and assembling family recipes while still working at her day job. She would use her college business plan to model her new business idea. The next thing was to send fillers to friends about this raw idea and how much she believed it would work. It paid off when a close friend introduced her to potential inventors who were persuaded about the viability of the project and signed on, providing the financing she needed. About three weeks later, she hired a chemist and began research and development.
“I began creating the line more than 10 years ago. I spent a lot of time with my mom, talking about our family’s history and recalling beauty rituals that my grandparents in Kenya shared with us. I also experimented with the natural African ingredients my family used in its beauty rituals, visualizing how they would be represented in the products—scent, texture, look and feel.
I then partnered with a lab that could help me bring my vision to life, respecting the natural ingredients indigenous to Africa, while ensuring the products were modern and effective. I independently distributed a few bath and body products in a select number of upscale boutiques, such as APOTHIA at Fred Segal.
I was the brand’s founder, shipping and receiving manager, customer service and marketing department all in one! I needed a partner to take the brand to the next level. My relationship with my parent company has given me access to cutting-edge scientists and labs, allowing Nyakio to deliver the most efficacious products possible.
While one may expect that such an investment in beauty products meant instant money minting for Nyakio, this was not case: “It was probably at the close of year one when I realized the enterprise could really work and I started adding new things to the line” she clarifies.
Most of the ingredients used by Nyakio like pomegranate and sage diffusers, are indigenous to Africa and not just because of the value they add to her collection, but because that’s her heritage. “I love to base my products on the cuisine, especially that of east Africa, where my family is from” she notes.
Nyakio’s collection contains two products. The first, Nyakio Kenyan Coffee Body Scrub that blends naturally energizing and exfoliating Kenyan coffee with sugar to remove dull skin while providing antioxidant benefits. It leaves skin moisturized, smooth and soft. The second is the Nyakio Kenyan Coffee Face Polish. It blends Kenyan coffee with jojoba to gently remove dull skin while providing antioxidant benefits. It leaves all skin toned, moisturized, soft and immediately radiant.
On the inspiration behind the Kenyan Coffee Collection Nyakio has the following to say:
“It was inspired by a beauty ritual of my namesake grandmother. Our name means “hardworking woman.” She worked on our family’s sustainable coffee farm, and after spending the day outdoors under the sun, she would boil down coffee beans with honey and apply the grounds to her skin and exfoliate using a sugarcane rod.
I used to watch my grandmother, a farmer, exfoliate her skin with rods of sugarcane and boiled-down coffee beans mixed with oil and honey. As a medicine man, my grandfather would use extracts from the baobab tree—Africa’s so-called fountain of youth—to treat various ailments and hydrate the skin.”
Months ago, Nyakio launched her products exclusively on HSN and HSN.com for one month and on her site nyakio.com thereafter. All in all, it has taken her 12 good years to be where she is now.
“Twelve years! Never give up on your dreams, ladies!” she advises.