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Cocoon Yourself in Luxury African Skincare with Epara

When Ozohu Adoh played with botanical formulations to treat her skin, little did she know that it was the start of a luxury skincare brand.

By Ingrid Wood

Nigeria-born, London-based Ozohu battled with skin rashes for years and tried a multitude of products to treat them, with no success. After eventually being diagnosed with follicular eczema (when eczema affects the hair follicles), she started researching her own solutions, looking to the healing and nurturing properties of pure African botanicals. Epara, which means ‘to cocoon oneself’ in Ebira, a Nigerian dialect was the result. In a conversation with YLA, Adoh shares her inspirational journey.

“Epara’s innovative and science-led formulations harness the healing and nurturing properties of pure African botanicals to offer luxurious rejuvenating products.” 

When did Epara start?

We launched the brand in April 2017. I had been struggling with skin problems and tried so many things which never worked. I started to experiment with African botanicals and happened upon a formulation that worked for me. Although I had no intention of commercialising the formulation, some friends asked me to try it and encouraged me to make it more widely available. Since these were mostly professional women used to interacting with well-considered brands, I decided to position the products in the luxury space. 

What was the first product you launched and how much has changed in terms of formulation since then?

We had 10 products at launch as it needed to be a credible offering to our target audience and retail partner at the time.

What is your opinion on African luxury?

Africa has a lot to offer and with the world being more accessible with the new ways of communicating, we can certainly showcase all that is good and inspired by the continent.

Are most of your ingredients still sourced from Africa? Why did you decide to select these ingredients?

Most of our ingredients are still of African origin. As these were the ingredients that my skin responded to and had largely been underexplored in the global market, I felt it was worth showcasing them in our formulation. We develop primarily in the UK because I reside there and it’s important that I have proximity to product development, but I dream of a time when many of our products could be produced in Africa.

How do you ensure sustainable sourcing?

We work with our suppliers to understand the provenance of our ingredients and to improve traceability to the co-ops and makers where the ingredients are sourced from. As we become more established, the idea is to begin to own oversight of a large part of the supply chain.

What are your favourite Epara products?

I rotate in and out of products depending on the time of the year and how my skin is behaving at certain times, amongst other things. One constant for me though is the Comforting Body Cream and Dual Fuel Mask which I love. Of course, our Cleansing Oil still remains one of our bestselling products for a reason.

In addition to luxury outlets such as Selfridges and Harrods, what are your key outlets?

We are retailed in Bloomingdales, Amazon Luxury and Saks in the US and Hudson Bay Co in Canada. We are now in Zalando in Europe and have some specialist Spa and treatment centres in North America. The products can also be ordered online. 

Are any further expansion plans underway for Epara?

Absolutely. We are currently looking keenly at the Middle East to work with a credible partner over there.

What does luxury mean to you?

Luxury to me is to interact with a well-curated experience be it what you wear, put on your body or how you spend your time. You should feel that there has been incredible attention to detail in the presentation and function of that experience and it should be a way that you aspire to live your life.

What would you encourage luxury visitors to see and do in your country of birth?

The pulsing energy of the country is almost second to none and if one can experience the culture and entertainment, that would be fantastic.

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