Feb 12, 2019
If you thought solid shampoo bars were a recent trend, you
should listen to our latest Green
Beauty Conversation with Akua Wood
who is the founder of Sheabutter
Cottage, a pioneering business that supplies natural
haircare ingredients as well as skincare and haircare products.
Akua's solid shampoo bars have been best sellers in her online
store almost since she started out in the early 2000s.
Ghanaian-born Akua arrived in the UK in 1994 and it was while
her daughters were very young that she launched her first business,
Cioccolatina, after finding a lack of natural haircare and skincare
products suited to her needs. Recalling her childhood, her father's
kitchen remedies and her grandmother's cocoa farm, Akua realised
that her native Ghana was a fantastic place to source the pure oils
and butters she needed.
Cioccolatina was rebranded as Sheabutter Cottage as the supply
side of Akua's business grew fast out of the necessity of sourcing
larger amounts of the natural ingredients she needed for her own
products. The business grew fast but Akua kept the word 'cottage'
in the name to reflect her origins as a founder-led business, and
also to tally with her ethics which see her sourcing directly from
small-scale Ghanaian farmers.
Continuing our focus in February on organic, natural haircare
formulation, we chat to Akua about the incredible properties of
raw, unrefined natural haircare ingredients and bust the myth that
natural haircare ingredients are more complex, and difficult to
source and work with. Never was there a better time to explore the
depth and breadth of haircare ingredients available to the natural
In this episode, you'll gain insights into natural haircare
ingredients and formulating, including:
- Be curious and adventurous in your haircare formulations as
consumers are looking for innovative ingredient combinations -
Sheabutter Cottage catches the eye with its use of black molasses
in one of its best-selling shampoo bars.
- First, work out what haircare issue you are trying to resolve
and then focus closely on ingredient properties to work out what
best addresses your customers' needs;
- Don't for one minute think that natural haircare products take
a back seat to skincare; there's a large untapped market waiting
for customised haircare solutions;
is a diverse market with myriad niches as products can tackle
not just issues like oiliness or dry hair but can address also
various hair textures and external factors affecting hair
- Essentially, formulating for haircare is parallel to
formulating skincare products; the same formulating techniques are
Key take-outs from this episode include advice on running an
- Akua started her first business with two, pre-school age
children at home and with no outside financing. She believes that
it is possible to start small and grow organically if you work
within your means and do what you can when you can.
- Running an ethical business
sourcing direct from growers rather than from middlemen
suppliers has its challenges but is a very powerful message to put
out. Today, consumers are scrutinising the values and ethics of
retail businesses they purchase from.
- Don't feel you need to run a huge business to contribute in
some small way to charities that tally with your business ethics.
Sheabutter Cottage contributed first by buying direct from farmers,
and now helps in a very personal and life-changing way in Ghana by
sponsoring teaching assistance for individual autistic
- Again, it's a case of doing what you can, and when you can
afford it, and remembering also that even small steps towards
running your business more ethically can make a difference to
If you are interested in learning more about starting and
running an ethical natural organic skin or haircare business,
listen also to our podcast with
Anju Rupal of Abhati Suisse.
You might also be interested in finding out about the Formula
Diploma in Organic Haircare Formulation which is open for
enrolment twice a year.
Find out more about Sheabutter Cottage and its range of
unrefined natural ingredients here:
Sheabutter Cottage on Instagram.
Sheabutter Cottage on Facebook.
Sheabutter Cottage on Twitter.
Sheabutter Cottage on YouTube.
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