Growing up in Nigeria, West Africa as part of a monarchy that still exists today, the unique underpinnings and practices of old are all encoded into the DNA of our founder, Belinda Kǒkóèkà Bassey Ephraim; naturally, many of these same ideals form the philosophical core of KOKOBÉRNA.
As we close this year and look towards the beginning of a New Year, Belinda shares some of the life lessons she learned from her ancestors of Old Calabar Kingdom, including her parents, and the values she carries forward.
HOLD SACRED THE WISDOM OF NATURE
We hold sacred the divine wisdom of nature through the philosophy of beauty. Like the rare flora and fauna that flourish nowhere else on the entire planet, the luxuriant tropical rain forests, the earth colored a vibrant ochre, the dryness of summer juxtaposed against heavy rains, and the world’s greatest spectacle of natural resources, KOKOBÉRNA symbolizes the refined virtues of ancient West African beauty rituals and traditional lifestyle.
Since the early 1600s and throughout ages past, my ancestors, the traditional Efịk monarchs of Old Calabar Kingdom, created divine skincare treatments for daughters of aristocratic families during rites of passage. Here, and for a period of time, the young women learnt the fine art of enhancing their beauty, nurturing their skin, and taking care of oneself.
Rare, native, plant materials handpicked from across the savannah, valleys, and rainforests of West Africa were transported over vast lands in precious gourds and vessels. These native plant materials sourced from nature were meticulously prepared to create healing medicines, perfumes, and cosmetics.
The finished products had an aura of rarity, of exclusiveness, and of the divine; to make the women attractive and alluring, to restore vitality and good health, and as a means of venerating the gods as they crossed over from adolescence into womanhood.
This ancestry, my ancestry, forms a significant part of the medium through which I elegantly unite traditionalism and alchemy to provide a high-level of craftsmanship and exceptional level of quality in our skincare treatments and wellness lifestyle products. Everything you see, feel, touch, and experience comes directly from my lineage to you.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
As a young woman, I was privileged to grow up in a world where the power of African queens is legendary and passed down; from the Kemetic women of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt starting with Hatsheput who rightfully reigned as Pharaoh for over 20 years at the peak of its power, to the Hausa warrior Queen Amina who ruled northern Nigeria for 34 years from 1576 to 1610, to Queen Mọ́remí Àjàsorò who assisted in the liberation of the Yoruba Kingdom of Ile Ife, and to Asantehemaa (Queen Mother) of the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana.
The female monarchs of Old Calabar Kingdom and other female trailblazers across the African continent. My grandmother. Her mother before her. My foremothers. My mother. My sisters. My aunties. My extended family of sister-friends across the globe. All of these women, since the beginning of time, are the wind beneath my wings and form the backbone behind the KOKOBÉRNA mission: to uplift and delight our customers AND in turn, donate 5% of every order to charities dedicated to educating and empowering women and young girls in support of their mental health, higher education, and self-esteem so that they too can feel happy, healthy, beautiful and be inspired.
EXPRESS JOY ALWAYS
I express joy and gratitude for every customer invested in our success.
We honor artisanal time-honored techniques; meditating and consecrating our workspace before we gently extract and work with the life force of our native plant ingredients.
Our biophotonic MIRON® glass vessels that house our handcrafted treatments are not colored black but instead a deep violet hue when held up to the sunlight. We specifically made the investment because of its unique ability to use the sun's positive effects to enrich our delicate native plant ingredients by allowing beneficial UV violet and infrared light to enter yet excluding any damaging UV rays that accelerate decay. This allows us to significantly reduce the need for harmful preservatives yet maintain the integrity of our handcrafted formulas. An authentic MIRON® glass vessel is detectable when the vessel you hold in your hand is turned over, held to the light, and the ultraviolet spectrum is visible. There is also an embossed “m” and marked numbers on every vessel. Little details that help us transcend mediocrity and bring such joy to our hearts.
We hand-tie and cradle these vessels in bio-degradable crêpe paper reminiscent of how cosmetics and perfumes were carried and protected in ancient times. The simplicity of sustainable elegance.
We hand-write personalized thank you notes with every order because your true friends are the ones who make you feel beautiful.
We communicate the date each treatment was handcrafted because the customers who count on us for full transparency are discerning and expect only the best.
TRUST MY TRUTH
"Speak the truth and speak it ever. Cost it what it may. For he who has the wrong thing done, does the wrong thing still."
Ever a renaissance man, my father would recite this quote which struck a deep chord within me as a child and has always been the guiding light to always speak and trust my truth, come what may.
At KOKOBÉRNA we are guided by the belief that we all deserve skincare treatments and wellness lifestyle products of uncompromising quality that is supremely therapeutic and addresses the most visible signs of aging, strengthens the skin’s resilience, and safely delivers results; for our customers today and for generations to come.
The fact is, I am just like you; a customer who deeply desired effective and well-made products that were unequivocally indulgent and extraordinary at supporting not only the state of my skin but that of my health and that is exactly what I did.
Blessed with an exquisite lineage that has withstood the test of time; the selection of native plant materials from across the savannah, valleys, and rainforests of West Africa and around the world; the special care in preserving ancient formulating techniques that increase the response frequency of the plant phyto-nutrients; and 400+ year-old family-owned recipes, I thank you for the ongoing support and invite you to discover these handcrafted luxuries for your best body and personal well-being.
Belinda Kǒkóèkà Bassey Ephraim
Founder + CEO, KOKOBÉRNA