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From a young age, Temi Shobowale was giving makeup advice to friends and family. She took her talents to the beauty retail industry and also became a makeup artist. When she started to formulate skincare products for herself and had friends test them out, they wanted more. This led to Essentials by Temi, a line of skincare products with organic, plant-based ingredients, which officially launched in 2019. Shobowale’s love for all things beauty is matched by a dedication to sustainability and philanthropy. Essentials by Temi uses recyclable glass jars and fair-trade ingredients. Shobowale also founded HERDAY, which runs events to provide a safe space for diverse groups of women to feel uplifted and spiritually strengthened.
How did your past experiences lead to Essentials by Temi?
I wanted to go to school for international development studies, but then I realized that I was more creative. I did a lot of theatre in high school, which is how I got into makeup. I decided to go into the beauty industry. I always knew I was going to create my own brand. I just never knew that it was going to be a skincare brand until maybe 2015-2016.
I studied aromatherapy and taught myself a lot of things. I talked to a naturopath and people more experienced in the industry and I started teaching DIY workshops. I brought a wellness aspect to it. That part was really important to me. For instance, one of my best-selling workshops was the aromatherapy rollerballs. I always try to teach people how aromatherapy is a game changer. Whether you’re getting a massage or relaxing with a scent in your diffuser or dealing with things like seasonal affective disorder, aromatherapy helps a lot. It goes back to the power of plants and flowers that we don’t really take advantage of nowadays. Everything is tech, tech, tech. I like to help people revert back to using all of their senses.
Growing up in Nigeria, hanging out with my grandmother and her friends in the village, you learn how to make things from scratch. It’s always been a part of who I am. I always had a natural skill. So I decided it all makes sense. Everything connects with what I’m interested in and what I have experienced. I was just able to polish my skills to turn it into a successful business.
How did you go from making skincare for yourself to starting a brand?
I got so tired of trying all these products and my skin got so bad at one point, I was always breaking out and trying new products. I started learning and wanted to be able to share what I learned.
I started off with the DIY workshops, which I taught in Toronto, New York, DC, and people were always saying, “This is a great experience, but I am probably not going to make this again. Do you sell these products?” So I started with custom orders. My first product was my Lemongrass + Thai Buttercream body butter. Then people asked if I was going to make other stuff.
I wanted to find something easy for everyone to use, so I decided to start with essential oils. Because I use essential oils in my products, it kind of went hand in hand with the name of the brand as well. I wanted to create essentials, skin and soul essentials for everyone.
I created a face mist and I have a face oil. I learned a lot about oils and I started doing research on how they’ve been used for centuries. It’s just a luxurious way of taking care of your skin.
You support Ajike Shea Centre in Ghana, which empowers rural women to have a sustainable job and start other businesses. Why is philanthropy such an important part of your company?
I’ve always wanted to create my own non-profit or foundation that caters to empowering women. The more I got hands on with what I was doing, I realized that I wanted to focus on female entrepreneurship empowerment. There are so many women, especially Black women, who are now so successful within the past five to 10 years, and I just think of small businesses that are back in my home country, Nigeria. They don’t have the resources and they are doing amazing things.
I started volunteering in high school. I was assigned to help homeless people. I remember walking into a program for women. It was a very humbling experience to see how these women were dedicated to come into this program on a weekly basis and work on themselves and build themselves up. I would volunteer my services and do mini-makeovers, and a lot of the DIY stuff started then.
I just saw how much it helped them and the happiness it brought them. I felt like everyone deserves to have that. Why isn’t it a bigger part of life, to take care of yourself and heal and raise yourself first, so you can be a better mother, partner, person? Women wear so many different hats. We have to take care of ourselves, because when you don’t, it can take you to very dark places.