What you need to know:
- Upon graduating from college, Miriam Mukami decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps in making cosmetics.
- The entrepreneur’s dream is to set up a plant where she can turn all the overripe fruits and vegetables into raw oils.
Miriam Mukami joined college in 2012 to train as a cabin crew, but dropped out midway after realising her passion was shifting.
She enrolled in a business management course as she wanted to venture into self-employment.
Having been born in Nairobi, she lived with her family in Korogocho and later moved to Dandora where her family also owned a house.
“While we lived in Dandora, my mother used to make baby jelly, beauty soaps, and powdered soaps and sell them to shops. I enjoyed helping in the whole process till the packaging of the products,” she narrates.
When her mother passed away while she was in grade eight, she and her sister were left in the care of their aunt, who had to find a way to provide their needs and keep them in school.
“My aunt used to buy chemicals, commonly used raw materials for making liquid soap, and then sell the products to our neighbours and nearby markets. I enjoyed going to homes and teaching my peers how to make the liquid soaps when they bought the ingredients, and it was always fulfilling to make a product from scratch,” adds Mukami.
Upon graduating from college, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps in making cosmetics.
So she founded Touché Cosmetics, an agro-cosmetics manufacturing company that makes beauty products from plant-based oils and overripe fruits and vegetables.
“I mostly learned the concept of manufacturing from my mother but over the years, I have done my research by watching cosmetics manufacturing videos, paid classes for making specific products and also reading cosmetics manufacturing books,” says Mukami.
The company supports local farmers and the circular economy, and they are always utilising what would otherwise go to waste.
Mukami says she gets the overripe fruits mostly from the Marikiti Market.
“I am in partnership with individuals who work in Marikiti Market who help in recruiting farmers and resellers of the overripe fruits to us,” she adds.
Some of the most common fruits and vegetables she uses include avocados, coconuts and their shells, pineapples, and we are looking to start using carrots, pawpaw and onions to make products like onion hair oil.
According to Mukami, the market has between eight and 12 lorries of pineapples every day; one lorry has 6,000 pineapples, translating to 72,000 pineapples.
“This means that no one buys those that get left at the end of the day since they know that fresh ones come in each day. This applies to other products like avocados and coconuts which Touché Cosmetics take and turn into oil,” she adds.
“Our main focus is to use natural ingredients for maximum skin benefits,” she says.
Some of the raw materials she uses alongside the fruits are carrier oils, shea butter, coconut oil, emulsifying wax, coconut shell powder, distilled water, perfume, Cetyl alcohol (from coconut), eco-friendly preservatives, glycerin, sorbic acid, xanthan gum, SCI powder (for foaming baby products).
While formulating the massage oils, Mukami is keen to keep in mind the needs of her customers. She blends different oils to make sure the clients enjoy maximum skin benefits as well as keep out ingredients that might cause reaction in people with sensitive skin.
The entrepreneur’s dream is to set up a plant where she can turn all the overripe fruits and vegetables into raw oils and keep the circular economy going while managing waste.
She also aims to be the leading supplier of raw oils and cosmetics products in Africa and to establish business in other countries.
“I also want to be able to provide locally and at affordable price cosmetics products that professionals in the beauty industry struggle in getting and are forced to import,” she adds.
She also took the challenge of venturing into baby oil manufacturing, which many companies shy away from.
“When it comes to baby products, I noticed that there are very few manufactured locally, yet we have all the capacity to do it. I choose to make them because all that's needed to make them are actually locally available, that is the different raw oils,” she says.
“I got complaints from friends that their children had sensitive skins to some of the baby products available, even some of the imported ones. So I decided to make products that are mild and friendly,” she adds.
The pricing of her goods depends on the raw materials used. Other products available in local shops are massage oils, body splash, body scrub, polish remover, baby oils, baby sunscreen cream, baby Shower gel, after-shave cream for men, and shower gel for both men and women.
Mukami is one of the beneficiaries of the Google Hustle Academy, a free week-long boot camp designed to help small businesses in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.