DOWN TO BUSINESS: Some of the women who are part of a community-led pop-up shop
CHEMISTRY IS a subject many might feel is the domain of science geeks and nutty professors, but one emerging entrepreneur is showing that knowledge of the subject can provide an opportunity for black women who want to dip their toe into the business world.
Having spent years working in a high-pressured job in the City, Immanuelle Anyia –affectionately known as ‘Webi’ – took the knowledge gained from her chemistry degree with her love of skincare to create her own range called Skin Deli.
Anyia says the subject is taught so poorly in schools that pupils grow up not realising the importance of the science in creating make-up and body lotions – essentials for many women.
“A lot of women love make-up, moisturisers and creams but don’t realise they can make their own products with a bit of knowledge about the scientific side,” the entrepreneur said.
“Part of the reason I decided to get involved in the industry is due to the need for more diverse skincare products to cater for people of different skin types and ethnicities.”
Anyia’s Skin Deli range is currently on the shelves of a new pop-up shop in Stratford, east London, just a stone’s throw away from the Olympic Stadium which hosted London 2012.
As part of its bid to win the Games, the city vowed to give back to its community in terms of work and business opportunities.
Running until today (Aug 17), the Established East London Pop-Up Shop can be found in the luxurious The Street at the popular Westfield Stratford City.
The temporary retail outlet, however, is not your average shop. Donated by Westfield, the store showcases and sells the original artisan products made by some of East End’s finest up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
And the majority of them are enterprising black women who are transforming their passions into profit.
Exhibiting quirky jewellery, sharp photography and the latest fashion trends, the entrepreneurs staff the store and promote their products to the 800,000 shoppers who pass through the shopping mecca every week.
HAND CRAFTED: Pieces from Yvonne Allen’s Zayunu By Design brand
Mother-of-two Yvonne Allen has her unique jewellery designs and precious stones on show.
Accountant Natasha Corbin-Stewart has her own boutique range. And Tricia Blake has a sumptuous range of Diva Choice bath products for those who enjoy a long soak.
Iman Ogoo’s experiences of suffering with acute eczema for many years led her to seek a solution by creating Imanmade, a range of natural skincare items.
The Canning Town resident said: “I had really bad eczema, as has one of my sons, and we found that our skin would burn up when we applied many of the creams on the mainstream market. So I decided that I needed a cream and lotion which worked well with my sensitive skin. Therefore, I just starting making my own.”
“That way I could see exactly what chemicals were in the products and create something which made me feel better. But soon family, friends and others began complimenting me on how smooth, fresh and supple my skin was. I felt good and looked even better!”
The women became involved in the shop through social enterprise Community Links – which provided extensive advice, mentoring and support to the entrepreneurs.
Black Britons of all ages have felt the effects of cutbacks to public services and streamlining within the private sector, with 18 per cent finding themselves in the unemployment line, compared to just eight per cent of white people according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.
Out of sheer necessity many of those facing unemployment are deciding to work for themselves and develop their own wealth.
According to research from the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), Britain’s African and Caribbean communities are more likely to think about starting a business than any other minority group.
Kevin Jones, enterprise and engagement manager at Community Links, said: “It’s very inspiring to work with such talented women who are passionate about building successful businesses.”
He added: “By just following their journey to this point, it is easy to see why they are such an inspiration to other black women and the community as a whole.”