This month, luxury skin care brand, Epara, expanded its retail footprint becoming available at high-end retailers, Net-a-Porter and Nordstrom. The brand said there may be additional growth plans on the horizon as they are currently in discussions with additional US and Canadian retailers.

Epara, which means to cocoon oneself in the Nigerian dialect of Ebira, made its U.S. market debut in 2018 with Barneys New York after amassing a cult following at Harrods U.K. and in boutiques in Nigeria. The brand later rolled out to Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in January 2020.

Utilizing African botanicals and a special plankton extract, the collection was developed to address the unique skin care concerns of women of color with a focus on hyperpigmentation and hydration. Product prices range from $56 to $252.

“Initially when we launched, our biggest challenge was distribution,” said Ozohu Adoh, Founder, Epara. “As a small brand, getting noticed was quite a challenge and not having a lot of marketing resources meant that we needed retail partners to help with exposure. We funded the business mostly through a combination of bootstrapping, family and friends and more recently, angel investors. We have now made much improvement and progress, especially in the U.S. in recent times.”

While the brand was impacted at the onset of the pandemic, experiencing only a small amount of sales and the shuttering of retail partners, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in June helped lift momentum and commercial growth.

“We saw a turnaround after BLM. We have become better known to customers and have had several opportunities open up to us. Our supply chain was also severely impacted and we are now only catching up with being in a comfortable place with regard to inventory management,” shared Ozohu. “To keep raising awareness, we have begun to invest in digital marketing both on Facebook, Instagram and more recently Google. We are also complementing this with a renewed PR push.”

In 2021, the brand will release a few ancillary products and announce a secondary brand targeting a younger audience at a more accessible price point.

Ozohu was recently recognized at CEW’s Women’s Leadership Awards event for her inclusion in Indie26 – a listing of 26 outstanding Black female-founded beauty companies disrupting the beauty industry. The full list and brand founder stories will be available in a Digital Journal set to be released on November 17. An on-demand version of the event, which includes access to a copy of the journal is available for purchase here.