Susan Kinuthia, CEO of Ruzena Naturals dream is to educate women on the importance of using natural products on their hair and skin. She is our Woman Crush Wednesday.
Ruzena means a rose flower in Latin. Kinuthia named the Rose Brand after her late mum. It has been existence since August 2015. She says they do natural handmade beauty products which contain cold pressed oils, soaps and butters for hair and skin.
Graphic designer by profession, Susan worked as a Branding Manager for a leading advertising firm in Nairobi until 2014. But her love and passion for natural hair and beauty made her quit her job and start her own business.
“I have always been a DO IT YOURSELF kind of person. I like mixing my own things and I was experimenting on hair products since I went natural in 2011. I started having an interest in Shea butter and at the same time when I was doing my research I found out that it was good for eczema and me and my kids have eczema. I used to send my sister for Shea butter when she would travel to Uganda then I started using it for our own use at home. So when I first launched the brand it only had butters and oils,” she says.
Asked how she deals with the competition, Kinuthia says she realized she has more allies and friends than competitors. They even come together once in a while to do events and support each other’s causes. So the competition is there but it is friendly.
With a team of 4 staff including herself as the founder, Susan is also the creative director of Ruzena Naturals. She designs, researches, formulates and hand makes the soap from the comfort of her home. She also uses Social Media sites such as Instagram and Facebook to promote and market her products.
She says, “I have this ongoing campaign that I do every time I post a Ruzena product on social media, I always put the hashtag #BuyKenyaBuildKenya and I encourage people to try local products. I can say that the perception has changed .Maybe about 2 years ago the only handmade soaps you could find were from West Africa but that has changed because people have seen that they can actually get these products locally done. The reception has been good and I cannot say Kenyans do not buy local products, they do.”
The natural hair revolution has also contributed to Ruzena’s Naturals success. The popularity of the Brand has grown in Kenya within just two years of existence.
“In fact when you come across most women who wear their hair natural, you notice that even their skin, they do not use toxic products. You find that they go more for natural skincare, handmade soaps,” she says.
Kinuthia says after a while using natural products becomes a habit. Even internally, the eating habits change, you just start to take better care of yourself generally.
But of course success does not come without challenges
Kinuthia had issues coming up with a working formula especially with the soaps. Having no prior experience she did not know how to make a soap from scratch. More so most of her products came from Uganda as there were no available raw materials in Kenya.
So far, Susan has a store in the central business District of Nairobi. Customers can go there and pick the products they ordered online. She also sends her products via courier to customers who are outside Nairobi. But after a successful year of Ruzena Naturals, she hopes to open stores in other Kenyan cities. Her vision is to conquer the Kenyan market before expanding to other African countries.
“What I would like to tell any woman out there who wants to start a business or who has an idea that they think can be profitable, just start,” she says.
“I keep telling myself that if I had actually done a proper budget of how much it was going to cost me to start Ruzena naturals I never would have started. I started with little and the brand grew, I went increasing one product after another and did not launch all products in a single day. I just started with two and now we are up to eleven within a year. Whatever you have just start and once you start ideas come and you get people who can help you.”