The founder and creative mind behind Akamuti, Lindsey Hedges, talks to Sublime about her enthusiasm for the creation of new creams and butters, the company’s connection to Africa and her dream – a little Akamuti garden.
Sublime: Ten years ago Akamuti launched with a palette of just six products. How did you, back then, come up with the idea of creating a natural and organic skin care label?
Akamuti: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and Akamuti allows me to combine many of my passions. I like the idea of making a living by creating skin care that I love and believe in. It is very important to me to tell the story of the creams, butters and oils and their ingredients. I don’t just want to sell faceless products.
S: Can you tell us a bit about your personal background?
A: I was brought up in a lovely wooded valley surrounded by trees, wild herbs and natural beauty – all of which ignited a lifelong interest in plant medicine, trees and the aspiration to live an ethical life. I qualified as an aroma therapist, which helps with the creative product making process.
S: This year you are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Akamuti – congratulations! What is the secret to your success?
A: Lots of hard work! You have to absolutely believe in what you do, this passion carries you over the rough patches and potential bumps in the road. I also think the secret to any successful business is uncompromisingly good products and a great vision.
S: Can you tell us more about the production process of your products – where and how are they produced?
A: We are a family team so you will find that all of us are busy mixing and crafting oils, creams, soaps and butters for our unisex product line. We start from scratch using chunks of fragrant beeswax, golden oils and botanical butters and extracts. All of our products (except the ones made in Africa) are created in our workshop in a green, leafy corner of Carmarthenshire in Wales with an astonishing view across the Brechfa forest.
S: How do you create recipes for new products?
A: This is one of my favourite things to do. It all starts as an idea that finds its way on to paper, with a draft list of ingredients. It really depends on what we’re trying to achieve with the product. Then we make up some mixes and try them out. It’s a long process from start to finish.
S: Your packaging design is beautiful. Can you tell us about the idea behind the illustrations?
A: They came about after collaborating with our designer Jenny Lloyd, who understood our brief perfectly. Jenny has been able to capture the colours, the warmth and the simplicity, which we feel our philosophy evokes.
S: Many of your products and also the packaging design seem inspired by Africa. What is your relation to the continent?
A: My mum was born in Zimbabwe and I think the stories she brought with her and her life there has definitely influenced the Akamuti journey. In African cultures, trees are revered as sources of healing. We really feel this evokes our philosophy and ideals. Our name Akamuti is an African word from Zambia. It has two meanings, ‘Little tree’ or ‘A little bit of medicine’, where tree and medicine are synonymous. The name reflects both, our connection to Africa and our passion for plants and healing.
S: The ingredients of your products are very exotic. Have you ever thought about sourcing some of them in the UK – or in Wales, where you are based?
A: Definitely! We would like to source our herbs from the UK and even grow them ourselves. This is still part of the plan. There are lots of ingredients growing here that can be used in skincare – some of our oils already come from the Great Britain. These include our chamomile oils, which are grown in Kent and our Hemp oil, which is grown in Devon. It is our plan to use as many ingredients as we can from British growers. If you are out there, get in touch!
S: The prices of your products are reasonable and still you pay fair prices to producers and farmers. How does this work?
A: We prefer to offer products at prices, which are affordable to everyone. This simply means less profit for us. We pay fair prices for our ingredients and want the end prices of our products to be fair too. We don’t feel the need to overcharge our customers or add what I like to call ‘snob-value’.
S: You mention the term “Consumer Power” on the website of Akamuti. What does it mean to you?
A: Consumer power is all about the spending power that we have as individuals – it is the way we vote with our pockets. Every penny we spend supports a system, whether it is positive or negative. I don’t think we should underestimate the power that spending has, which is why we encourage everyone to think about where they shop and why.
S: What are your plans for the future?
A: The plan is to get even better at what we do already and create a bigger range of products. We’d also like to get involved in more growing projects and create an Akamuti garden one day. Like that our customers could come and see exactly what we do.
To see more visit: akamuti.co.uk