Sarah Akinfenwa wasn’t planning on starting her business during a pandemic and has faced challenges and sleepless nights along the way.
But the positive responses from her customers surprised her.
“The biggest reward has been… seeing people appreciate it and the feedback I get from people who buy my product,” Akinfenwa says.
Akinfenwa’s dream started before the pandemic. She wanted to make vegan, natural skincare products to help her skin in Calgary’s dry climate.
Her search led her back to her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria, where her grandmother would make all of her skincare from local ingredients, such as shea and cocoa butter.
“That is where the idea came from, you know, using what I’ve been using as a kid. And I saw my grandmother make it all the time,” Akinfenwa says. “So I thought, ‘Hey, why not just bring it here and kind of tweak it a little bit’.”
She launched T’Oria sSkin care in July 2020. Due to the global health crisis, she struggled to get the packaging for her products.
Despite the challenges, Akinfenwa says the reception to T’Oria has been fantastic, outdoing any of the expectations she had. She says customers are pleased to find a local skincare company making products with natural ingredients.
Akinfenwa says she has bigger plans for T’Oria in the future, including getting her products into more brick-and-mortar stores. She is also working on introducing a package recycling program for her customers so her skincare line can be as sustainable as possible.