Finding products that work for my hair has been something I have struggled with since I cut my relaxed hair in 2015. I was frustrated and in out of the barber shop for a shave simply because couldn’t maintain it once it got past a certain length. It was always dry and never seemed to grow. I can honestly say that i had a hard time understanding my natural hair.
Mugethi Gitau, founder of Mugzie’s Naturals had a similar struggle. Instead of throwing in the towel like I almost did, she tried to find a way to make products tailored for her hair. Her product portfolio didn’t just end with hair products though, she also has a skin care line made from all natural ingredients.
I had a chat with her to find out more about her company;
1. What was the inspiration behind starting Mugzie’s Naturals and venturing into the beauty business?
When I went natural about 6 years ago, I had such hard time finding good products for my hair. A friend of mine who noticed my plight pointed me to a couple of natural hair blogs and I also started watching YouTube videos on taking care of natural hair. It was totally different from taking care of straightened hair which I had most of my life. I started doing a lot of DIY (do it yourself) for my products and they worked well on me. I shared the same with my friends and they worked on the them too.
During this whole process I fell in love with my natural hair and got to know it really well. I wanted other women to have this experience too. Other than hair products, I also started experimenting with the same ingredients but for body products and they worked perfectly.
What intrigued me the most was knowing exactly what was going into my hair and skin and that it was all natural. This was because I felt that I did not have to sacrifice health for beauty and I wanted other people to enjoy the same.
2. What was the idea behind your logo and packaging?
My logo is a drop which is inspired by nature. Drops of rain, drops of dew on a leaf in the early morning. The purity of it all. I chose it to remind me constantly to keep it simple with my products. To keep the ingredients as minimal as possible while addressing the needs that the products are meant to address.
For packaging I have 3 major criteria;
- It should be green. Is it recyclable?
- It should be locally available. Local creates jobs.
- It should be functional and friendly. Can you reach your fingers all the way into the bottom of the jar to scrape of the last of your yummy body butter? Then let’s do it!
3. What basic ingredients do you use for your range of products and why do you use those ingredients?
I use a Shea butter base for most of the butters. Shea butter is a superior moisturizer as it repairs, soothes and softens. I use cocoa butter for the skin products. Among other properties, cocoa butter heals and repairs skin including stretch marks, scars and wrinkles. Coconut oil has the unique property of penetrating the skin or the hair follicle and working from within. It also maintains hair volume by preventing protein loss.
Castor oil is a great anti-aging oil, and on the hair it thickens and can help regain hair after hair loss. I use essential oils as well not only for the divine smell but also for their healing, stimulating and anti-microbial properties which help the products to stay fresh for longer.
These are all available in East Africa.
4. How long did it take for you to find the sweet spot in terms of the ratios of ingredients that work for your products? Was it trial and error or did you have full knowledge of what you were doing before you started making the products?
I have been making DIY products for the last 6 years and observing their effects on myself and my skin. I’m a geek too so I have been doing a lot of research, on ingredients, their properties, how they interact with other ingredients and different hair textures and skin types and so on.
Initially, I would make small batches for personal use and could easily measure the proportions of the ingredients “with my eyes”. But when I started making larger batches to sell I had to make it an exact science. It took about a month of tinkering back and forth and lots of feedback from my customers to come up with formulations. Everyday I make a new batch of product and it is still a learning process.
5. There are quite a number of natural hair and body care products on the market. What makes your range of products stand out from the rest?
They work!! I’m a geek and as such I like to tinker and understand how things work. So I understand the science behind each ingredient, and how it should be used (or when it should not be used). I apply this knowledge when coming up with the products.
A good example is our protein free hair butter which works for those with protein sensitive hair or when you just have a protein overload. It can be quite frustrating for protein sensitive people in the case where the moisturizing products you are using just seem to be making your hair drier! As such our protein free hair butter becomes quite handy.
6. Mugzie’s Naturals products are very affordable in comparison to the other natural hair & beauty brands. What factors do you consider before you determine the price of your products?
We exist to make the natural lifestyle affordable and accessible to all Kenyans. Currently our operations are very lean which allows us to keep the prices affordable. Basically production happens in my kitchen with a small team. We also sell most of our wares online and at fairs where we do not incur retail costs. When it comes supplies we go for the locally available ones which makes our logistics manageable.
7. What else do you do apart from running Mugzie’s Naturals? Or is it a full time job?
It is my full time job. It’s still new however, so I supplement my income by taking on freelance / consulting work in technology and the digital space which is my field.
8. What challenges do you face as an entrepreneur in the hair and beauty industry?
I could speak about this topic for hours. Many of the challenges come from being a small player in the manufacturing industry. For example, working with suppliers who are used to selling say minimum 20-50kg of a raw material and you would like to buy 1kg is a challenge. On the same note it’s hard to get credit from a supplier because you buy in small quantities.
Also selling to large organizations who are accustomed to paying 90 days after delivery really affects your working capital. Sometimes you find yourself with only one supplier for your ingredients and when they are out of stock, you find yourself in a jam. Another thing is that we don’t have a whole lot variety when it comes to packaging materials in Nairobi. Delivery logistics too are not without challenges.
9. What future plans do you have for Mugzie’s Naturals?
For now it is to increase production to a level that will be able to cater effectively to the Kenyan market. After this is done I can think of expanding to other markets. We also plan to expand our range of products to satisfy customers requests.
10. How can people buy your products?
You can order via WhatsApp on 0722283289. When you do, kindly specify what you would like to order (or even just chat about hair and skin care). You could also send us direct messages on social media that is Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. You can also order via our website.