First, I need to ask, how are you doing?
Sis, thank you so much for asking! I am doing as well as anyone possibly could. It’s been a fun rollercoaster with being in a pandemic, starting a business, working full time, and full-time mothering…but with prayer, meditation, and endless glasses of wine, we are making it!
Could you begin by telling us about your business?
Sure! I’m very excited to present The Omugwo Box, the latest undertaking of Dr. Temi LLC! It’s the first African-inspired gift box for new moms. And I know it may seem overzealous to say it’s the first one, but curated self-care products for black and brown women are truly lacking. As it turns out, no one is doing this, which is very surprising. Considering we have major spending power, it’s time that such a business exists!
What inspired this box?
Storytime! So one afternoon in 2018, after I was done nursing my six-month-old (who is now two), I wanted to have some mom time. I searched through all my little knickknacks and gifts from families and friends, and there was nothing in the house that was just for me. So I scoured the internet for a self-care package that catered to me and my culture. I was shocked to find that there were none. I figured that I could attempt to fill that void, but due to my financial situation, I swept the idea under the rug. In the spring of 2019, it tugged at my heart again, and I mentioned it to my sister. At this point, I came up with the name: the Omugwo Box. But even then, I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to do it.
I chose the name of the box in reference to a coveted Nigerian postpartum care practice. Omugwo is a practice in the Igbo culture in Nigeria where a mom or mother-in-law comes to a new mom’s home to take care of momma and baby. At this time, the new mom is only to eat, rest, and recoup. At the end of this period (which is typically about three months), the new parents send mom off with many thanks and gifts. It’s a revered practice that still takes place. The idea is that this box will provide some sense of “home” for moms with an African twist. My expertise as a public health professional also played a major role in curating this box. Black and Brown moms are the most disproportionately affected by maternal mortality and postpartum depression. I firmly believe that when we create for our own, we build up our own. I may not be able to cure postpartum depression in minority women, but I can sure do my part in helping to lower the incidences. The inspiration for this box is truly that of love….love for myself, my culture, and genuine love for other moms who deserve the best the world has to offer!
Can you tell us about what is included in the Omugwo Box?
The Omugwo Box is a one-of-a-kind box that injects love and culture. There are items that would be staple items in many African households.
Robb – A multipurpose menthol-based ointment. This ointment is tried and proven. It can literally be used for anything and everything! Massage away aches and pains when you have a cold, and the like. It has anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s something new moms would find very useful.
Kankan – A traditional Nigerian exfoliating sponge. Growing up, we used these sponges to scrub…when I say scrub, I mean scrub your body. While it’s very simple in the sense that its made of straw, it’s still a culturally-used sponge to deeply exfoliate.
Black Soap (Dudu Osun) – Black soap is a staple that has recently become a trend because of its very natural and simple base. I grew up using it for problem skin, but it works wonders on hair, the scalp, and skin. It’s made of shea butter, honey, aloe vera, palm kernel oil, palm bunch ash, lime and lemon juice, and water. If that doesn’t all sound refreshing, I don’t know what is!
Shea Butter/ Lotion – For restoring suppleness and moisture to your body. As with the black soap, the importance of using shea butter for skincare has always been a staple in Nigerian culture. We use the actual shea for cooking as well…but we don’t advise anyone to use the lotion in cooking (lol)!
Ankara Head Wrap – Chic and fashionable for those not-so-great hair days. As a new mom, the last thing that we are able to do is extra styling to our hair. But on those days between wash days, or for days when you just want to look halfway decent when you have company …it’s a go-to staple item.
Lip balm – We have provided a shea butter lip balm for your convenience. Dehydrated, chapped lips and the like won’t be an issue for you as you’re home caring for new baby.
Nipple cream – This helps combat nipple discomfort while pumping or breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can be challenging. It comes easy for some, but not for all. Regardless of your experience, a nipple cream is absolutely essential for nipple health as you nurse or breastfeed.
Mother’s Tea – Soothing tea for relaxation and lactation. Not all moms struggle with milk production, but every new mom can use some sense of relaxation. Full of lactation-supporting and relaxing herbs such as fennel, fenugreek, goji berry, nettles, and mint, this is a blend new moms can enjoy even after baby isn’t quite a baby anymore!
Hair Care – Organic hair refresher/moisturizer in between wash days. We thought it was important to include such an item. If you ask many new moms, showers, hair washing, and freshening up are not synonymous with being a new mom. We provide two types: one is infused with hibiscus, and the other is a rosewater refresher. The refresher can be used on the hair and face to just help you pep up when you need it.
Aromatic Candle – An organic candle to help soothe your senses. Made naturally and infused with lavender, it’s sure to relax your senses for those time moms are able to retreat.
Mommy Motivation – A novelty item with a motivating message. In our inaugural boxes, it’s a button that says “Super Mom of The Year”. The boxes will have various items upon availability and feedback.
Mom Tote – A custom tote bag designed for Omugwo Moms! We have partnered with YTOL (Your Thoughts Out Loud) NYC to create bags especially for our box! The messages on the bag are only privy to those who purchase a box!
Gift certificate for “Live Your Best Life Momma!” – A gift certificate for a free online course designed for moms. Our curator has developed online courses designed especially for moms to help find their purpose. Motherhood can sometimes take us away from other passions and purpose; the course is a fun and intuitive way to help mom do it successfully.
What has been the biggest challenge to launching your business?
I’ll be honest in saying there wasn’t much difficulty in launching the business. Upon professing that I would move forward, I took a week or so to strategize on the content, possible vendors, purchasing a domain name, creating a budget, and establishing my LLC. I had a rough idea of what I needed to do, which was what helped me to do everything I needed to do within a month. The work now is raising awareness and actually getting sales. I am not an influencer, nor do I have a massive following, but I know I have a massive idea and product! I have been working tirelessly to expose us through social media, partnerships, and traditional media such as Mother Muse to publicly share information. I know the work to get us out there will be a challenge, but I feel that once we are out there, the sky is the limit.
Lastly, who is your Mother Muse?
This may seem a little cliché, but my Mother Muse is my very own mom! If patience, strength, and virtue could be bottled up and presented to the masses, it would be my mom. As a Nigerian immigrant, she came to this country to build a better life for herself. She got here, went to school, and received a degree in accounting and eventually settled down and started building a family. In order to accommodate her growing family, she left her lucrative and demanding accounting career to pursue Social Work. There was nothing that she didn’t do. Every doctor’s appointment, every school play, every PTA meeting, all the food we ate, and anything else you can think of, she handled it with ease. And please note, my Dad was in the picture, but as a typical Nigerian man, his role was just to bring home the bacon. My mom also worked full-time while she took care of us all. To this day, I’m not sure how she did this without losing her mind. I only have two kids, and can be at my wits end on a regular basis! My mom, Yetunde Abosede Ojudun, is the real MVP. She is my inspiration to be a great mom.