We had the good fortune of connecting with Ngozi Bolin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ngozi, what role has risk played in your life or career?
You must take risks. Without risks we cannot test our capabilities and grow. It was a risk for me to come to the United States in the first place. I had already finished law school and was en route to be a very well-paid lawyer given my family background and connections. I was also on my way to living in a society that did not put a premium on the value of women, at that time. It would be comfortable, pampered and opulent life, but I felt a different calling. That risk took me to New York where I had a very successful law carrier with published cases. Then, to California where I met my husband. That risk galvanized me into putting the knowledge of herbs, oils, clays, butters that I had only been using for myself in my kitchen into Shinkafa skin care and hair care without harmful chemicals. It is that risk that made me say no to manufacturing anywhere but in the magnificent USA. Shinkafa’s products are now recognized worldwide as products that work and deliver excellent results for families.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
There were three main professions in my family – lawyer/Judges; Engineers and Business owners. I started off as a Barrister & Solicitor in the British Commonwealth. I moved to the United States and got admitted as a lawyer in New York and California. However, my true passion lay in creating hair and skin care products. I have always made my own products for my skin and my hair. I did so because I wanted to avoid lots of chemicals. I had no idea that it would turn out to be my ultimate profession, as a business owner and manufacturer.
It was not easy starting Shinkafa. I knew what I wanted to do, however, accomplishing those goals in untested areas of the market, viz: avoiding harmful chemicals in hair and skin care products, at that time, was a challenge. I knew that I wanted to create products without harmful chemicals. For hair, I wanted to avoid alkali, sulfates and parabens. How do you do something that was not the norm? I met a lot of resistance and simply decided to do my own research and development. I literally set up my own R&D laboratory in my home, beefed up my knowledge of ingredients, chemistry and compounding. It took me decades to be comfortable to having my vision put into commercial use. Along the way, I also worked with wonderful researchers, chemists and herbalists.
You simply do not give up when it is something that you love. I can’t tell you how many times I chopped off my hair as I was formulating some of my products and testing them on myself. I believe in ZERO animal testing. I love what I do. I love the challenge of making better products that work. I had a terrible time managing my hair until I came up with my keratin kit. My youngest sister had the most painful acne and she inspired me to come up with my Shinkafa face masque. So, the satisfaction in making things that help people is just immeasurable.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I love tennis. I love taking my dogs on nature walks. I love Hansen Dam – it just a magnificent place to walk with your dogs. So, the itinerary would entail walking the dogs on the trails, then, taking in a game of tennis. When we get home and all cleaned up, make a wonderful meal of Akara, plantains with peanuts, and dumplings for lunch. I am not much of a drinker, but I love coconut drinks with some chunks of coconut in them.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Three books have shaped by thinking on a lot of subjects. They are: “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen, “The Game of Life and How to Play It” by Florence Shovel Shinn and “The Edinburgh Lectures” by Thomas Troward. I believe in understanding what part I am to play on this wonderful planet and to do it in the most beneficial way possible, not just for me but for those that I come in contact with.