Malika’s natural cosmetics brand is tapping into eco-conscious customers
Consumers are increasingly motivated to be more environmentally conscious and are exercising their power and voice through the purchase of organic and eco-friendly products. Malika Ben Khalifa, a 27-year-old chemist from Kebili, is passionate about sustainability concerns and decided to apply her chemistry skills with the launch of MLK Nature, a natural cosmetics brand.
With a degree in chemistry, Malika is fully aware of the harmful effect of chemicals in our surroundings.
“Chemicals are omnipresent in our environment, and can be found lurking in our daily hygiene and cosmetic products,” she says. “Focusing on my university background, I wanted to offer a healthy alternative and also enhance the natural resources of my region, and country, by creating a line of cosmetics made with natural ingredients.”
After graduating, Malika carried out a technical training to learn how to manufacture natural cosmetics. While starting her entrepreneurial journey she visited the business centre of Kebili, where she discovered the project Mashrou3i, a public-private partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO. Through the online courses of the HP LIFE e-Learning platform, as well as the HP LIFE face-to-face training provided by Mashrou3i, Malika developed the managerial skills she needed to realize her vision.
“During the 5-day training, the HP LIFE experts helped me complete my Business Model Canvas. I also learned how to sell my products and build a marketing and advertising strategy.”
After the training, things progressed quickly and smoothly. With an investment of nearly 23,000 Tunisian Dinars, including a donation of 12,800 Tunisian Dinars from the RAED project, Malika created the license for her company and proceeded to purchase equipment. MLK Nature’s laboratory officially opened in March 2018.
“The following month, Mashrou3i offered me the chance to present my brand on regional radio,” says Malika. “I had just launched MLK Nature so this interview was decisive in raising awareness of the business and acquiring new customers.”
Since then, Malika continues to be very active in her field and is flourishing as an entrepreneur. She has participated in several fairs and entrepreneurial events, to ensure her brand is known across Tunisia.
MLK Nature currently produces three categories of products: skin care (face scrubs and cleansing milk), body care (moisturizing creams, hand and foot creams) and hair care (shampoos, nourishing oils…). Many of the plant ingredients Malika uses are little-known for their cosmetic virtues, such as nettles that help prevent hair loss or hazelnut oil that regulates the excess of sebum on the skin. Malika also draws on regional products such as dates, where the cores are used for making body scrubs.
Like any entrepreneur, Malika is full of ambition for the future. “I want to develop and expand my project with the extraction of essential oils and saponification. Currently, I am sourcing ingredients from organic laboratories. Maybe someday I will open my own MLK Nature shop!”