R&R Beauty has been in business for nearly ten years, first starting operations in Lagos, Nigeria. This woman-owned and run business has not only survived the ever-changing economic landscape in Nigeria, but has grown and expanded beyond its place of origin.
This can only be due to solid and well-focused leadership.
What inspired you to create R&R Luxury?
I started R&R Luxury in 2010, just after the birth of my first daughter.
As I was becoming a mother for the first time, I wanted to use only natural products on my newborn and looked for a solution that was available locally, so that I didn’t have to import anything.
Shea Butter was the obvious answer for an effective, locally sourced moisturiser, however, I wasn’t a fan of the format that raw shea was presented in as it can be difficult to apply to your skin. When I found out that shea was available in a liquid/ oil format, my life was changed forever and that is how R&R Luxury was born.
What has your experience been running an African skincare business with operations in multiple countries?
R&R Luxury was born in Lagos, we started with one location; my mother-in-law’s garage which we converted into a small but compliant factory which was used for all production and operations. Over the years, we gradually expanded and last year, we opened our first purpose-built factory in Accra.
Having operations in multiple countries has been a great experience so far, but not without its challenges. Every country has its own requirements when it comes to skincare & cosmetics and because of this, there is a lot of compliance to factor in – I learn something new each day!
Consumers across different continents have a range of different wants and concerns when it comes to products they use too so, at R&R, we ensure our outreach is targeted to suit the needs of each market.
What is your overall vision for R&R Luxury and has it been affected by the pandemic?
My ultimate goal is for R&R is to turn it into a completely global business sharing Africa’s amazing natural ingredients, and the talent of African people, with the rest of the world.
I would love for R&R Luxury to open doors for other indigenous beauty brands from the continent too!
Although day to day operations have been affected by the pandemic, the vision hasn’t
changed, and I am confident that we will overcome this and continue building a global
beauty brand out of Africa.
As a business owner, what were your first emotions and thoughts once you realised the pandemic was on your doorstep?
I was initially scared about how it would affect my family, business and staff but I was able to put my trust in God and take it one step at a time.
What were the first key steps you took in protecting yourself and your business from the pandemic?
Before there was even a single case in Ghana or Nigeria, we stepped up hygiene protocols in our stores, factory and offices and not too long after that, I took the decision to close our factory, offices and Accra & Lekki stores pretty early (before both governments enforced restrictions) for the safety of my team and our customers. Following that, I had a series of Zoom calls with my management team to strategise and plan how we will navigate through these uncertain times.
Steps were taken to secure our income by taking the business online and focusing on our D2C (direct to consumer) channels such as our website and social media platforms and as a result of the pandemic, we built a new website for our customers in Ghana and scaled up our online services and digital marketing.
What are the key next steps you will be enforcing as extra measures to strengthen and protect your business?
We are continuing to expand our online and digital operations to ensure that customers can easily access our products from the comfort of their homes. Just this week, we launched a new look R&R Nigeria website, bringing it up in-line with our other sites, making it more user-friendly on the front end and easily integrated with our other markets on the backend.
There has been a focus at R&R HQ on developing new sales & marketing strategies to fit with the current times.
For example, we’ve adapted our pre-planned summer holiday marketing plan to make it relevant for current times by focusing on self-care at home and encourage our customers to maintain their health & skincare regimes.
As well as our delivery service in Nigeria, we have temporarily turned our Lekki store into a cashless collection point for online orders.
The next step will be to re-open our factory once we have found a suitable method of
operating whilst social distancing to further protect our staff.
In which areas have you been the most vulnerable and why? E.g. supply chain, value chain?
Supply chain has been a key concern for us because, although the majority of our
ingredients are sourced locally, some of our other raw materials, including packaging, have been delayed due to border closures.
Many parts of our value chain have been maintained throughout this pandemic due to a
strong team of R&R staff who have been working diligently at home, just as if they were in the office.
Although production has been temporarily suspended, our warehouse facilities have been able to fulfil impending orders meaning that our customers have been able to
obtain their skincare favourites. It has been a slight challenge to attract new customers at this time due to the nature of skin care products.
Consumers often want to touch, test and sample new skincare products before purchasing them (which they are able to do at our stores) – to combat this, we have encouraged our current loyal customer base to share reviews on their favourite R&R products.
What immediate opportunities do you see and how are you moving to take advantage of them?
We are trying to be creative with how we adapt and operate during these times.
We will continue to expand digital operations to ensure that the business can run seamlessly and still attract sales without face to face interaction with customers.
As a business, we have taken this time to improve some of our structures, operation
procedures and plan for the rest of the year.
We will be celebrating R&R’s 10th birthday in October and planning for the lead up to R&R Chapter 10 is well underway so stay tuned.
What key lessons have you learned as a business owner over the last several weeks?
As a growing business, it is essential to be prepared for an emergency by keeping overheads low to be able to prioritise and adjust when needed.
In order to succeed and move forward, we all have to change with the times and create new strategies to survive
How do you think businesses similar to yours can consolidate their strengths to not only survive, but to thrive?
They can focus on the positives and what they can do right now – as opposed to what they cannot do. For example, right now, they can take time to focus on developing their business strategy, marketing plans and strengthen operations so that when they do restart, they will be prepared and hit the ground running better than before.
R&R Luxury is an entirely natural, plant-based skincare brand from Africa, founded on the philosophy of transforming one of nature’s purest and richest gifts – Shea Butter – into elegant beauty products that moisturise and renew the skin.
The brand delivers luxury 100% Natural Skincare and combines Africa’s ancient beauty secrets for ageless skin, at an affordable price, whilst simultaneously empowering hundreds of West African women in rural communities through its supply chain.
By: Joan K. Vincent-Otiono