It started with 2 African girls and a dream....
Tutuwa and Thato, a Ghanaian and a Motswana met in 2014 in Paris for their Masters degrees. As the only 2 black girls in their year group, they quickly bonded. Tutuwa unconsciously introduced Thato to her great-grandmother’s black soap and shea butter and Thato became obsessed with it!
The duo moved back to their respective countries in 2016, and Thato constantly begged Tutuwa to send her black soap for her and her friends. One day, Tutuwa had an idea: “why not take this skincare, a recipe passed down by her great-grandma, to the rest of the world?”
Tutuwa excitedly wrote down some concepts. She brainstormed on products, packaging, and strategy, pitched the ideas to Thato and the rest is history!
Nokware was officially born in October of 2017! Thato is no longer with Nokware today, but her contribution to the brand will never be forgotten and is forever appreciated.
Nokware’s story is Nokware’s Values
Our founder’s great-grandmother was a beneficiary of generations of African women who passed on the wisdom of ages – how to make skincare products using traditional African herbs and oils.
Today, Nokware is a modern-day, African skincare brand. Inspired by Grandma’s wisdom, our goal is to promote the use of African herbs, oils and plants, which heal and protect us and can be found in different parts of Africa.
This fusion of traditional and modern-day knowledge is a part of our generational legacy, and it is a privilege to be able to share that heritage with the rest of the world.
We source our raw materials such as calabashes and shea butter from local women’s co-operatives, with whom we practice a fair-pricing, zero-exploitation policy, because economic inclusion is our ultimate goal. We strive to honor Ubuntu, a Southern African philosophy that translates ‘I am because we are’, by giving back to our communities and empowering those who have been traditionally excluded from the workplace, or not given equal opportunities to earn a meaningful livelihood.
We are choosing to place community commerce at the forefront of our brand. We believe that together, we can transform the lives of many shea butter processors and calabash growers across Africa, many of whom are women. We believe that together, we can use skincare and commerce as a means to empower communities and do business in a more beautiful way – with purpose.
There are still less women than men in the global workforce, and these women make significantly less than men, for doing the same jobs. In Africa particularly, the gap in opportunities, status, incomes and so on between men and women is even more dire and is depriving the African continent of a huge, valuable resource. This is why it is our pressing priority to work towards bridging the gender parity gap by empowering African women through employment.
It is also a story that is deeply personal. Our founder’s great-grandmother never received a formal education, but managed to raise 8 successful children who have a love for social responsibility. Who knows what Great Grandma herself could have achieved, had she had educational opportunities?
It is this sense of expansive possibilities that inspire us. This is why we are a female – owned business with an all female factory population. Our women are evidence that when women support each other, incredible things really do happen.
As an African skincare brand, we know first hand the psychological trauma that colonization and western media has had on the self esteem of African women. The beauty industry has deepened this trauma by creating a stereotype of beauty that leans towards a preference for lighter skinned women and one that idealizes western features as the pinnacle of “true” beauty.
This preference has led many African women to use skin-lightening products on a daily basis. Our local media is saturated with advertisements of such products with little care given to the adverse effects they have on our bodies and our communities.
By promoting the use of products that contain 100% natural ingredients and by pushing for inclusivity and representation through our marketing campaigns, we are actively promoting a message of self-love and changing the narrative around beauty by providing a space where skin shades that are usually left out are included and represented in a beautiful way.
For us, zero waste is about repurposing what would have otherwise ended up on a landfill, on our streets and in our oceans. It’s about aligning our lifestyle with our values in ways that make our impact.
We want to raise awareness that single-use plastic is not the only way. All around us, nature has provided us with materials that when repurposed, can make beautiful, natural packaging like our repurposed raffia, jute sacks, bamboo, and calabashes.
For centuries, calabashes have been used in Africa for drinking, eating, storage, and in religious and traditional ceremonies. They’re beautiful, versatile and natural. They’re one of Nokware’s ways of packaging, and they’re a part of our heritage. Our shea butters are packaged in bamboo, which has strong fibrous properties making it the ideal green material for packaging.
We are not where we want to be yet, as our bamboo packaging has a thin plastic lining. The plastic lining we use however is PET plastic, which is recyclable and reusable. We are tirelessly researching into natural alternatives however, and will not stop until we get to the point where no packaging materials of ours will contain even the tiniest speck of plastic ever again.
Nokware For women
This fund, is our instrument towards leaving our world a better place than we met it – our way of empowering the younger generation by helping to bridge the gender education gap in Africa. It is Nokware’s way of doing business by giving purpose.
The fund provides financial assistance for the education of the young daughters of our factory women and the women from whom we source. Our goal is to help women break cycles of poverty and give women of all ages and backgrounds an equal opportunity to thrive. We will not rise alone. We are because they are, and therefore we’ll rise, when they all rise.