Esnath Moyo is a diagnostic radiographer and mother turned CEO and Founder of Netsai Beauty. As featured in British Vogue, Netsai Beauty is a brand that believes skincare has the power to change lives, by increasing confidence that reflects in everyday life. Their products include their Zero flaws antioxidant mask which is formulated with activated bamboo charcoal and cacao which leaves the skin feeling soothed and supple.
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Vongai: Where the name and Netsai Beauty come from, because initially I was like, oh, Netsai Beauty, the founder, the founder’s name must be Netsai.
Esnath: Like I've told you before that but my parents went, my mom went to war when she was 15 years old. So I can only imagine the struggles that she faced. And because this brand was born from struggle, really, I took the name that she used in the liberation war struggle, and I incorporated it in the skincare business, because I was very acutely aware that this is a struggle. It is not going to be easy. But this is my struggle.
Vongai: Oh wow. What was your first product that you got to work? And like were you in the lab with? Like, how does I have so many questions. [chuckles]
Esnath: So my first project, it was a mask. It was a mud mask. That was my first project. The first thing that I did was take myself to formulation school. So I was going to formulation school for over two years, initially, of course, you go to the school of Google, you go to the school of YouTube, and then you realize that it's quite difficult to put all the information together in one place. You get bits and pieces, right? So I went to formulation school. And then after that, I after the formulation school, I started creating my own things in my own kitchen, some didn't work, some worked, and I'd give them to friends and family. You know, trying all that. And then when I hit the mark, when I think I got about 10 people. I made the mask, I sent it to my sister in law, I sent it to a few people, and then everybody was like, I need a bigger jar. I need a bigger jar. So then I knew I was onto something with that one. And then from there I thought okay, maybe this might just work. But you know, as in business, you there are loads of moving parts. Like here in the UK, you can't just formulate something and start selling. So I had to look at the business side of things, making sure that everything's legal and the like before I started selling, but because it was the first project that we made.
Vongai:Oh, that's amazing. So yes, I asked about the process of formulation and all that because I just remembered as a young girl. My mom is gonna laugh when she hears this. Ndinemuzikanzwa I was naughty. I was in my mom's room and I would just take bottles of her lotions and perfumes and things. And I would take one of my own bottles or take an empty bottle. And I would mix things together and saying yes, I'm making a potion. This is going to be a skincare that like, you can live forever. And my mom's like, what are you doing? Why are you wasting my products?
Esnath: I always say that there is a formulator in everyone. Of course they are always gatekeepers in every industry. So the formulation industry there are the cosmetic scientists were really trying to gatekeep the industry for good reason. It's their jobs and everything but I think there's room for everyone. I never come from a place of lack. I always think there is room for everyone. If you told me tomorrow you wanted to start a skincare line, I will be cheering you on. We will be doing giveaways together like seriously. So everybody can formulate because what you will formulate will never be exactly the same as what I formulate unless you are intentionally trying to replicate what somebody has done. You know, so they're trying to make an issue about it. And there's this battle going on in the skincare world between green and clean and pharmaceutical and all that you know, so i
Vongai: Is it sustainable
Esnath: Exactly. So I don't get involved in it. I say our consumers are very wise people. They're very independent thinkers. They will choose what they want to buy and they'll make the decision that will be right for them.
Vongai :So this is the part where I kind of asked you to pitch the benefits of your products. I'm going to phrase it this way.
Esnath : Go on
Vongai : What would you have to say to people who think that skincare is a luxury? And why must I do anything more than like putting Vaseline on my face? Not that I put Vaseline on my face. That's not something I do. But you know, as Zimbabweans, we come from a community and a culture where it's like, you zora (apply) of Vaseline on your child's face or camphor cream and they're good to go. You know, what would the benefits be of skincare and then leading that into, you know, this bigger picture of this bigger idea of what it means for us to be practicing self care.
Esnath: So they have almost two to three aspects to this. The first thing is there are people like me, I am prone to breakouts and you can tell. I wish people could see us I haven't been taking care of my skin. I've been prioritizing my work and I do have breakouts on my face. And this happens to a certain group of people that will need to probably take a skincare a bit more seriously and they are those people's well that are prone to a little bit of acne that's really not medical, that can be easily fixed with skincare. There is that category of people who actually skincare is essential, good quality skincare is essential for them to have that confidence of having good skin. Any skin is good skin but we know that everybody wants flawless skin right? So there is that group of people and then I always say as well, Black women, African women deserve luxury. Why not? You deserve luxury in every aspect of your life. I find skincare is not just like I don't take it as just skincare that's why I say to you I'm very intentional about the music I play when I'm doing my skincare I take it as reflective time if I'm having a bad day I tend to do my skincare while I'm thinking of solutions sometimes if I see that I can acquire it in my brain at that particular moment then I use it as a time to try and figure out some solutions to my problems if that makes sense. And then there is another set of people whereby you think representation matters. Other cultures and other people are doing skincare and they are getting very successful at it if we are still of the mindset especially women if we still have the mindset that Vaseline that is owned by Lever Brothers is going to do you good you are going to be another generation that keeps making somebody else way wealthier without creating that wealth for your own communities.
Vongai: I'm giving clicks because that that's it. That's an aspect I hadn't considered but I completely agree with that lever brothers is not a black owned company no we are giving money to you know people outside of our community and people outside of our culture and trusting in their products again while refusing to trust in our own products and ingredients so I know one of your ingredients is avocado and in Zimbabwe there are plenty of avocados. Just as Sharon with Mauyu uses Baobab and there’s Baobab in this country but no we're quick to go towards I don't know argan oil and you know I use argan oil in my hair so I'm talking to myself. Argan Oil, Vaseline and all that jazz. you know
Esnath: It's just about creating like. Recently we've just managed to. Zimbabwe’s just opened up an industry where they want people to start farming things like chia seeds and stuff like that. It's a whole -
Vongai:Yes ! I've been reading about this.
Esnath : Yes, so Kenya's already y been doing it Kenya exports a lot of skincare ingredients so I don't see why that hasn't been happening in Zimbabwe. I'm super excited about it. God willing, we will have a piece of land where we can do the same as well.
Vongai: That's wonderful.
Esnath: So the benefits of our skincare really what I have initially created Netsai skincare for was hyperpigmentation because like I told you I have oily acne prone skin like now it's going more towards combination as I get older, but I was really prone to acne. Acne equals inflammation, inflammation equals hyperpigmentation. This was an issue and I was lazy with makeup at the same time see the combination doesn't work and I wanted flawless skin. So my only option was to get products that work for these problems that I have. And then I have a son who had terrible acne but not medical acne. Just he was like me just elevated if that makes sense. So I decided to start with this and then while I was doing my research, getting my information together learning about skin, I realized antioxidants are some of the best things to treat these problems that I'm talking about. However, antioxidants are actually great in aging. So I was like oh my goodness, you can kill two birds with one stone. We all want to age gracefully right? At least I know I do. So I could treat the hyperpigmentation and kind of keep the aging at bayish like aging nicely and gracefully like. Do you know what I mean?
Vongai:Like fine wine
Esnath: and stuff like that so Netsai skincare caters for hyperpigmentation mainly break if you use it constantly you should keep your your breakouts like hormonal breakouts at bay and non medical acne at bay. While we're at it, we're also anti aging if you use it often you should definitely see these results nothing nothing in skincare can stop you from aging but you just age gracefully. Good skin at that time of your life in the season of your life that you're in.
Vongai:Does it also have SPF so protection from the sun
Esnath: No we haven't put SPF that's a big mine field.
Vongai:YET. Yet, coming soon.
Esnath: That's a really big minefield and you know what's been happening with SPF. Don't you?
Vongai: No, I don't. I'm not familiar with the skincare world at all. I use like two products and I drink lots of water.
Esnath: Basically big dramas, SPF has had. Some SPF has had to be pulled out of shelves and stuff like that but a lot been happening around SPF itself. So you need a really good cosmetic company to work with you I don't think SPF is something that we'll be making our kitchen anytime soon. And then you need that cosmetic company to align with the formulation company to align with your values in what you stand for. Can you imagine trying to make green SPF?
Vongai: Yeah, that's really tough. I'm just gonna plug the one that I love it is Black owned. It is Black female owned and also based in New York. It's Black Girl Sunscreen. I actually learnt about this because Lupita’s brother was using it and I'm like, Oh, I want to look into this and then I found the company and they're black owned. And they're a New York and they're great. They have I think avocado and jojoba and coconut oil in their SPF.
Esnath: Is it chemical or mineral? Not that it matters.
Vongai: It just says moisturizing sunscreen lotion for face and body. Broad spectrum SPF 30 infused with her jojoba and avocado what to resist resistant 80 minutes, It's oxybenzone and octinoxate free. It's ultra shear, no white residue and fragrance free.
Esnath: I've heard loads about it. And I think I use the small tub of there’s as well that was sent to me.
Vongai: Yeah, I only use a little one. I was like, oh, and then they go into the science of why it's important for Black people to use sunscreen because growing up it's like we don't need it, we have melanin on.
Esnath: We don’t use sunscreen. I don't know I feel like there is still a lot of research to be had. And this is completely controversial like Black people need sunscreen we know it but there’s a huge demographic of Black people who cannot afford sunscreen who are surviving.
Vongai:It's true. I feel I think it's also because of our/ the melanin in our skin. Like we're not as high risk as people who are paler than us. So we can get away with it for a while.
Esnath: That's it, we're 15% protected, aren't we? The darker your skin, the more you're protected. However, if you do get skin cancer, it is a lot more aggressive in comparison to our Caucasian counterparts. Vongai: Yes. And and you as black people as well, there is a rainbow of Blackness. So there are also the lighter skinned black people who probably need it more than you, you and I, because of our complexion, which is chocolate as I like to call. Who is your ideal customer for Netsai Beauty?
Esnath: See I used to think, Oh, I want to cater to everyone. And then my mentor said, No, no, no, you cannot. Until you're on solid, ground solid foundation. Now I can start to think I can cater for everyone. So with my price point, I am very aware that for the Black for the African demographic, my price point is quite high. So I want to say the professional person who has a little bit of disposable income. So I'd say majority of these people are going to be probably 28 years old onwards, for them to be continuously coming back to us and being that place where they can have that money to buy skincare every single month or four whenever they need it. And they're probably going to be a professional and they understand the importance of taking care of yourself inside and out.
Vongai: They're also probably going to designate that time for if we're talking about self care and self love, like, oh, let me draw myself a bath and put a bath bomb and you know, apply my mud mask, and massaging oils and everything you taught me time
Esnath: And taking your time and enjoying it. And because like some of the things we wash off like the cleansing balm, you wash it off, I have put my heart and soul into it, I've put loads of extracts into it. So I always say to people use it as a mask, don't just take it off, apply it on your skin massage, leave it on while you jump into the shower, and then wash it off later. To get the full benefits of it.
Vongai: I love that, that that's my favorite type of mask, the mask that I can just leave on for as long as possible, watch TV, snack, and then be like, and now I'm washing it off.
Esnath: Exactly. And it has a little bit of lactic acid, which is a chemical exfoliant. So it does the slowing of the dead skin gently because lactic acid is one of the most gentle.
Vongai: I l ove that. Are there any tips and tricks that you wish more people knew about skincare? I know there are different skin care types. So there's like dry skin, oily skin combination skin?
Esnath :What I really wish people knew is consistency. Okay, yeah. So be consistent with your skincare. And try not to chop and change too much. If you find what works stick with it. No because we are inundated with so many things we in the information age aren’t we. So everybody's trying to sell you something and bringing you something but if you have what works for you really try and stick to which is try other things once in a while. But if it's working, don't don't try and fix it if it's not broken.
Vongai: Hmm. And how are you able to balance entrepreneur life with mommy life? Because I know you're also the mother of a special needs child.
Esnath:Yeah. So people say that there's never any balance. Something has to give, right? So when like now, with school term, when it's school term, I really am really strategic and I plan my day to a tee. By doing that it allows me to be extremely productive. And when I feel tired, I take time off no matter what it allows it. So summers just gone. I almost took time off. Like I kept looking after the customers that we already have. But I was not trying to get new customers, if that makes sense so that I can be mommy and take care of that. Because the six weeks and after six weeks I'm in entrepreneurial mode, if you can call it that at all.
Vongai: And what does that consist of entrepreneur mode is that lots of emails and marketing is that formulation of products
Esnath: A big part of it like You have no business, if you've not customers, your biggest challenge is getting in that customer. So anybody can make a project, anybody can. Quality, of course, everybody knows that thing. But is to, is to get people to trust you and buy from you. I feel like that is the biggest challenge of any business. And after they've trusted you for you to retain them for them to keep coming to you. So most of your time is spent trying to look after the people you already have. If that makes sense, does it.
Vongai: Yeah, yeah, it makes sense.
Esnath: It's easy to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. So look,
Vongai:yeah, yeah, it's true, because a lot of people focus on trying to get the numbers up, and then you forget the people who are with you, when you just started with three people supporting you.
Esnath: Exactly. Mm hmm.
Vongai: So as someone in the skincare and beauty space and someone who's very passionate about representation, and feeling good in the skin that you're in, like you said, You hope that your products will give people confidence in their everyday life. How do you feel about products that are marketed for skin lightening and skin bleaching that like it's still very much it's not only in Zimbabwean culture and African culture it's also in South Asian culture as well this this need to I feel, I feel like it’s this need to be closer towards white hegemonic beauty ideals, which is alive because we know black is beautiful, I mean, Black sells?
Esnath: Absolutely. And a lot of things a lot of cultural appropriation is happening to copy like Black hip hop culture, even African culture is being copied. Now African music is becoming really popular, or for whatever reason we keep wanting, people keep wanting to bleach their skins to make them look lighter. I feel like healthy skin is good skin. And that's the whole reason that we want an even skin tone. And that's the reason why we want to remove hyperpigmentation because usually when your skin is hyperpigmented is because it's it's suffered some sort of trauma. So we are trying to fix that, right. Skin bleaching I think, do you think skin bleaching was there in Zimbabwe? I don't think it was it just recently came. I don't know how it came about in Zimbabwe.
Vongai: I remember when I was younger, growing up in Zimbabwe, my mom talked about the tips and tricks people would do when she was at school. Really? Yeah. I know in South Asian culture papaya soap is very much a thing and I forget what the cream was. It was like a there's a cream here people use it wasn't Ponds, because that just made your face look pale.
Esnath: Something called Ambe.
Vongai: I can't remember. But yeah, I remember when I was growing up in Zimbabwe. It was it wasn't as prevalent as it is now. But it was still it was still there.
Esnath: Well, let me tell you a short story. My mum is very light skinned, extremely light skinned. So people would come and say, You are very pretty what happened to the children.
Vongai: Oh that’s heartbreaking.
Esnath: And she would go off! And then I think she went on a mission to try and empower us to say like, Black is beautiful, you're gorgeous the way you were. So she did a really good job about it that I we never even none of us even considered bleaching our skin because we were confident in who we are. I know that's not the norm for everybody else. And hearing people say that actually knocks your confidence. Like people say, Your mom is so beautiful, and you're not, like. And these were Black people saying this, you know, that's how damaged we are as a community. So I feel like there is a lot of education still to be done. I think we're getting somewhere now in terms of educating people that your skin is beautiful, just the way you are. And there is this South African celebrity, I forget her name, she's really talking about the effects of skin bleaching, and that it's a lifetime commitment. So when you lose the money, the damage that you've done to your skin is going to show and it's going to show up so much worse than you ever thought or expected. So once you've gone down that proof, make sure you're committed to it. Even though I feel like it's a really toxic culture, because what sort of message are you sending? Like, who are you trying to be? Who do you want to look like? We're all different, like you said, we have a broad spectrum of Black. Blackness, you know, from the lightest to the darkest which is all beautiful. We all come in all shapes and sizes, and why can't we just love who we are. So there is a lot of decolonization of our minds that will need to happen. We realize that this Eurocentric beauty point of view is not the only what do you call it model of beauty out there. Like, seriously, like I have an afro like I've just I silk pressed my hair, because I didn't have any idea of how to style it over summer. But if I wash it, it goes back to being an afro. We are so blessed that we're able to do that. You know, a lot of people would love to do that. They can’t
Vongai: Exactly, they tried to do perms to get that effect which and it still doesn't look as good. It's still not as fun or versatile.
Esnath: This is it. It starts with the parents. I think as parents we're supposed to empower our children to love the skin we’re in no matter what. Because social media, these filters, all that there's a lot of pressure on young people and women in general because I've never had anybody have a go at a man because they’re darkskinned. Have you? But a lot of women...
Vongai: I’ve seen it on social media.
Esnath: Really? Yeah.
Vongai: Where people will say stuff about dark skinned men. It's a small majority of people but that is still there and –
Esnath: I thought lightskinned men had it harder. Really?
Vongai: Oh, well at least not in America. Light skinned men have it great. I think yeah, it depends on the environment and where you are but in America, dark skinned men it's or just being dark in general
Esnath: Is tough
Vongai: Yeah, that they're like so many. I also remember when I was in the UK there were like, terrible words for calling someone dark like, and sorry for anyone who feels triggered, but calling them like Blick. You know, like, That was horrible. And I also want to say let's stop saying to children, or scaring them by saying, Don't sit in the sun, you will get darker.
Esnath: Oh, yes, yes, yes, that's a big deal. We know that. The sun does damage your skin. So you need the sun in moderation. There's no two ways about it.
Vongai:Yeah, you do need some vitamin D but also make sure not to have cancer
Esnath: Moderation and protection. And for us. So this is where I always think if you have lightest skin as if you're Caucasian or light skinned Asian, you can afford to not necessarily have to go directly in the sun. But if you are darker skin, you probably need to expose yourself a lot more in the sun. Because to absorb that vitamin D and everything because your skin does not absorb as easily as normal, lighter skinned counterparts. Right? Sun does have an effect on your skin and how your skin looks but we shouldn't be afraid of the sun. I mean, I think like Black people look the best when they sunkissed.
Vongai: Oh, they do! Oh, I'm just thinking about all the Black models I see in life who look so gorgeous with a tan. While our lighter counterparts just look red and roasted. Okay, It is time for our lightning round. What is your zodiac sign?
Vongai: What is the last book that you read?
Esnath: It’s called Stories that Stick by Kindra Hall
Vongai: Nice, nice. Nice. Do you have a favorite movie or a TV show from this past year or recently? That you've watched or binge on streamer?
Esnath: I am very intentional about what I am watching on television and stuff very very intentional. Because that's good times it drains your energy.
Vongai: That’s good.
Esnath: But I think Good Girls on Netflix has been really fun to watch.
Vongai:I hear it's great. I only got into two episodes. I it wasn't the show for me. But I've been in a workshop with one of the head writers for it. So yeah.
Esnath: Oh have you? I just felt like it's it's so cliche. It's so it's easy going it's an easy, it's an easy watch, right?
Vongai: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Esnath: If I could get into every single Black person's mind and get them to know how powerful they are. How beautiful they are. How worthy they are. I would be a confidence booster for Black people.
Vongai: Sweet. Do you have a favorite superhero?
Esnath:Do you know what I actually believe that we are our own superheroes? I know. I know what it sounds like.
Vongai: I love that. Who is your favorite Zimbabwean musician?
Esnath: At the moment it’s Holy 10.
Vongai: Do you have a favorite Zimbabwean childhood snack?
Esnath: Sherbert Do they still make those? Do you know the sherbert and there was a sweet inside.
Vongai: Yes Mazoe orange vs mazoe green
Esnath: Oh my goodness, mazoe green like seriously? Mazoe green all the way.
Vongai: The next one is a power statement. It goes I am Zim excellence because blank
Esnath: I am ZimExcellence because of all the women who came before me the confidence they gave us the fight that they did for equality for women. Even though we're a long way away. I am seeing excellence because the women before me paved the way
Vongai: wonderful. If you could nominate someone for the Award of Excellence who would it be?
Esnath: My good friend Lorraine, Black and Barn you all need to check out Black and Barn I mean
Vongai: Cool. Loraine you've officially been nominated for the award of ZimExcellence by Esnath Moy. Esnath as we wrap up, I would love it if you would share a message with our listeners also letting them know where they can continue to follow your journey. It is such a pleasure to be here with you and I know you will be back for more stories and more conversations.
Esnath: Absolutely. I have loved love love speaking to Vongai. My message is You're beautiful You're worthy exactly the intentions we set today and keep doing you and if you're struggling just put one foot in front of the other keep going until you achieve what you are determined to achieve. You can find me at Nestaibeauty on Instagram or www.netsaibeauty.co.uk.
Vongai: Wonderful all of those links will be down in the show notes. And as nav has actually given us a cool discount code that you can use to get 15% off on that size skincare at 15% off all net size skincare using the code ZIMEXCELLENCE. Thank you Netsai and thank you to our listeners for listening.
Esnath: Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed this.
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