The word Arami directly translates to “my body” in Yoruba, and the idea of creating “Arami (my body) essentials” is aligned towards treating the body right. So says Ore Runsewe, the young lady who built Arami Essentials from a table in her bedroom.
Ore Runsewe was born and raised in the United Kingdom and naturally had her education there.
She got her academic background primarily in public relations and digital marketing. She then worked as a Public Relations/Communications consultant in the UK before moving to Nigeria in 2014 to do the National Youth Service Corps programme.
She worked with the Women in Management, Business and Public Service, a non-governmental organisation based in Lagos; Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a communications consultancy firm; and then with the communications/digital marketing team of an investment bank.
The idea was to try out some DIY skincare
Relocating to Nigeria, Ore’s major issue was getting the beauty (hair and skin products) she had used all her life in the United Kingdom. Most of them were not readily available. And even when she would incidentally storm into them, they were ridiculously overpriced (probably due to the added cost of importing and shelving them).
Switching to entirely new product lines did not seem like the best idea, as she would later recount. According to her, she has really sensitive skin and was afraid of how it would turn out. But then again, leaving her skin uncared for was also not an option she would consider.
“Skin and hair have been an integral part of my life since I was a child. I had severe eczema for a long time so keeping my skin moisturised was so central to my life! As I got older, I began to love experimenting with different ingredients on my skin and natural hair” Runsewe recounted in an interview.
She started creating her alternatives rather than just resigning to any available option. This new adventure led to a lot of discovery into natural and locally available options that were both safe and healthy for the skin.
“I started looking into what people used in Nigeria and the kinds of things that were available, like the ingredients and products. That led me into looking into shea butter, black soap, coconut oil, and so on. I started experimenting with those things for myself and that grew into what is now Arami.”
Your body is a temple. Take care of it…
The choice of name “Arami” came from the Yoruba translation of “my body”. After all, that was what the beauty brand was going to be focusing on. On another end, Ore said she also found inspiration from a Bible verse.
“‘Your body is a temple’ was taken from a Bible verse and reminds me to treat my body with respect which flows into what I put on my skin & hair, what I wear, what I eat, what I think about and even how I spend my time,” Ore said about Arami Essentials.
Sure seems like an uncommon trend to have a business name inspired by a Bible verse, but Ore did it, and somehow still got the brand name sounding unique.
Starting from the bedroom
Arami essentials started in late 2016 from Ore’s bedroom, with very little capital which she only had to use to purchase ingredients and packaging material. For a long time, Ore Runsewe juggled the business with her 9 to 5 full-time job, content to reinvest everything from the business back in while living off her job. There was no need to bother about rent, utilities or logistics, as the business was sharing her living expenses.
This strategy worked well and kept the business through the early days, a period when many others fail due to funding problems. With no overhead costs in form of rent and utilities, the business stabilised and Ore moved from her bedroom to a smaller room in her house, and then to a space, she built at the back of her compound. Each step of this relocation became necessary as the orders and production volume increased.
In this way, Arami Essentials was able to keep low on expenses for a long time. Going full-time was a decision Ore Runsewe made much later when she discovered that a lot of people were starting to depend on her brand for their beauty needs, and she could no longer combine it with the demands of a full-time job.
In October 2021, the beauty brand launched its first factory at Nigeria Foundries in Lagos.
The unique route to growth
Part of the unique route Arami Essentials took was attaching promise cards to its packages for delivery. According to Runsewe, it is a way to show them that they are a part of the brand story.
“Customers don’t just want to receive things from a brand. They want to feel like they are part of the brand and they want to have an experience when they are receiving their products. So, putting promise cards in the package lets them know that we’re thinking of them constantly and we appreciate them for buying from us. They are a huge part of our lives. We just always want to remind our customers that we are thinking of them constantly and we always want to make sure that they are happy.”
Such promise cards could come with reassuring and soothing messages like Everything will be beautiful in its own time, Peace that passes all understanding, Patience and love is kind. These messages target not just the physical but also the mental and emotional well-being of the customers. All of these are part of what makes the brand a favourite among the audience.
Arami Essentials is no longer considered just another beauty brand. But one of Nigeria’s home-grown beauty brands. Along with other young Nigerians in different fields, Ore Runsewe was recognised at the 16th edition of The Future Awards Africa (TFAA) for the entrepreneurship category.