May 112015
 

When asked which were one of the first natural organic brands I started using when switching to natural organic cosmetics, Akamuti is one of the brands I offer. Akamuti and I go way back. When I started learning about the ingredients and therefore all the amazing skin-beneficial properties of carrier oils, essential oils, hydrolates and butters, Akamuti was one of brands which solidified a notion I am on the right path. It wasn’t just using oils as skincare, but also beauty products, made solely by various carrier oils, butters and essential oils, which Akamuti played a role in my new beauty routine, but also the fact that not many, if any, other ingredients are needed in order to create a great natural beauty product.

Akamuti Retro Collection

Akamuti Retro Collection

Back then, I had many Akamuti products on my cosmetics shelf: from hydrolates, butters, carrier oils, green clay, Orange facial cleanser, to name a few.

With that also started my own foray into creating my own beauty products, experimenting with various ingredients, and I credit Akamuti for sparking my interest in this as well. My homemade beauty products have come a long way; from shy attempts of a product containing a few ingredients to now whipping up, on a whim, various beauty products with many different ingredients. For those, who are looking for a truly natural beauty products formulated with only several natural ingredients – Akamuti would be a great choice. Akamuti uses organic, fair traded ingredients and does not test on animals.

Akamuti products are also very affordable (I don’t like using a word cheap, as there’s nothing cheap about Akamuti products), so anyone, looking for pure natural and handmade beauty products –  but with a limited budget – give this brand a chance, you won’t regret it.

Akamuti is an African word taken from the Bemba language of Zambia. It has two meanings. It translates as ‘Little Tree’ or ‘A Little Bit Of Medicine’ It goes to show that in many parts of Africa, trees & medicine are one & are revered as powerful sources of healing. Tree ingredients are very important in our products & we feel that trees are not only essential for our health but also for the health of the whole planet.

Akamuti

“At 17, I started a herbal medicine course which gave me the knowledge needed to create the very first six products for Akamuti.” ~ Lindsey Hedges

Lindsey Hedges created Akamuti back in 2003. A small family business, run from Wales, is still going strong over a decade later. If you’re curious about Akamuti, I welcome you to read the fun and informative interview with Lindsey, the founder and a creative force behind Akamuti. We’ve covered the beginnings of Akamuti, the business aspects of running a small natural beauty family business, to plans for the Akamuti brand as well as her view on green beauty business; I found myself fiercely nodding in agreement with Lindsey regarding the frustrating parts of the natural beauty business. Her favorite cosmetic ingredient might surprise you.

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Nature of Europe: Hello Lindsey! Welcome to my green beauty blog and thank you for taking the time to chat with me!

Akamuti: Hi Natasa, Thank you for having me on your blog!

Interview with Lindsey Hedges, Founder of Akamuti

The Lovely Lindsey Hedges, Founder of Akamuti

Nature of Europe: Lindsey Hedges, the founder and driving force behind pioneering natural beauty brand Akamuti. Tell us a bit about yourself, Lindsey. 

Akamuti: I live in a peaceful corner of West Wales with my family, surrounded by fields, forests and green hills. I love Wales and I love being so close to nature, it inspires me everyday! I am passionate about nature as well as equality, sustainability and fair trade. They play a big part in my personal life and in my business.

Nature of Europe: Your interest in natural herbal medicine led you to becoming an aromatherapist. Seems like from that point on, it was just a matter of time before your knowledge led you to the path you are now on. Tell us a bit about your first experience with natural products/ingredients, aromatherapy, plant healing etc prior to Akamuti. 

Akamuti: I have always loved plants and trees and I have always had a keen interest in natural medicine, especially plant medicine. My mum always liked to used herbs and tinctures to tackle coughs and colds and we were taught that there is a plant for every complaint!  I loved reading Mrs Grieves Herbal and the books by Juliet De Bairacli Levy – they really inspired me. I spent my teenage years growing plants and picking wild herbs like nettles and comfrey from my woodland garden and learning how to use them. At 17, I started a herbal medicine course which gave me the knowledge needed to create the very first six products for Akamuti.

Nature of Europe: I always love hearing how someone started their own small business, especially if it’s a natural beauty business. What was that initial spark which gave birth to an idea of having your own natural beauty business? 

Lindsey Hedges

Lindsey Hedges, Enjoying Winter in Her Beautiful West Wales Hometown

Akamuti: I really wanted to earn a living doing something that I believed in and enjoyed doing. The idea evolved naturally from my love of plants and my love of natural, eco living.  I wanted every ingredient to tell a story – I did not want to make or sell products that did not include my heart and soul.  My business brings together all of the things that I love most.  I did have a eureka moment when my Mum purchased a pot of herbal ointment and I knew when I saw it that I could have made it for her. That’s when the penny dropped & I formulated the recipes for the original range of Akamuti creams & balms.

Nature of Europe: Akamuti is a small family business. I’ve always been fascinated and had a lot of respect fur such businesses. Making a living by doing something good, something you believe in – and! – being your own boss! How does your typical working day look like? 

Akamuti: On a normal day, I spend the morning answering emails and customer enquiries, as well as working through projects as varied as designing new products or a new website. I am very involved with marketing and social media as well, so I can get very busy!  Most of my work involves being on the computer and talking to my designers. I find it hard to switch off and keep away from the computer but when I can, I like to escape the office and ride my bike or simply just sit outside in the sunshine with a book and something long and cool to drink!

“I wanted every ingredient to tell a story – I did not want to make or sell products that did not include my heart and soul.  My business brings together all of the things that I love most.” ~ Lindsey Hedges

Nature of Europe: Making beauty products is not just about satisfying the needs of customers, it’s also a creative, even –  artistic – process. Where do you draw inspiration for creating beauty products? 

Akamuti: It is very creative and it is my favourite part of the job!  Most of my inspiration comes from nature itself; the colours, aromas & landscapes all contribute to the formulation of the products from the recipe to the packaging designs.  I am passionate about trees, conservation of the planet and the people living on it so I try to draw all of these ethics together in every recipe we make.

Nature of Europe: There’s this romantic myth that every product from natural brands started in a kitchen and is now hand made in a small room, by fresh ingredients and quickly shipped to the customer. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all natural brands. Akamuti products are freshly handmade based on your own recipes. I like whipping up my own products as well (and Akamuti was one of my initial inspirations for that), and the process is fun as well as trying the final product. I am very curious to hear how the process of creating a beauty product looks like at the Akamuti “headquarters”.

Akamuti: This still happens at Akamuti! We have always made our products by hand in small batches and that still happens today. Nothing is mass produced…..everything is freshly made by hand, in our special  Akamuti kitchen in our workshop. Everything is hand crafted in the traditional way, using melted butters, waxes and botanical oils. All our products are freshly made to our high standards in small batches and as we get busier, more often.

Every product we make is handcrafted from start to finish from individual ingredients by real people (not machines!) We start off with chunks of beeswax; slabs of tree butters; loose herbs, barks, resins & flowers; jugs of golden oils & aromatic distillates. We then infuse, filter, melt, pour, strain, mix & stir to create beautiful creams, moisturisers & butters for you to enjoy at their best. Absolutely no chemicals are added at any stage! Everything is made in small batches to ensure you receive your products as fresh as possible, with as much shelf life as possible. ~ From Akamuti.co.uk

Nature of Europe: In my opinion, nothing is more important when it comes to beauty products than ingredients; I care not what the product promises. How do you source ingredients for your products?  

Akamuti: All of our ingredients must be 100% natural with as little refining as possible. We are passionate about using high quality ingredients because we believe our products should be wholesome, pure and as close to how nature intended them to be. We find our suppliers through lots of research – it is our aim for every ingredient to tell it’s own story about it’s country and growers. For example, our organic coconut oil is sourced from family farms that work together in a co-operative. We love to support projects like these, where the growers are treated fairly and respectfully.

“I am frustrated by the way the beauty industry is able to use the word natural, organic and fairtrade to promote their products, when there may be very little natural, organic or ethical content.  I also dislike the way products are promoted for their active ingredients, when there is usually very minimal content of the promoted ingredient.  Another area which I find frustrating is that many products on the market are severely overpriced, especially those where the main ingredient is water!” ~ Lindsey Hedges

Nature of Europe: For some reason, we just can’t shake the synthetic preservatives from our beauty products, even those, which are mostly natural. You don’t use synthetic preservatives, so it can be done (provided the formulation does not contain, for example, water, hydrolate, aloe vera); it just means the production is not as big, and a turn-around of the handmade products is faster, as in: beauty products are not sitting on the shelves for months on out. I am pretty impatient, waiting for a natural beauty preservative system. 

Akamuti: Yes, it is getting harder and harder to avoid preservatives! All of our products are preservative free – our creams and butters are all oil based and contain no water so they have a natural shelf life. Our flower waters have a short shelf life to reflect their preservative free nature. There are natural alternatives to preservatives but it takes many years to trial and test them.  I prefer to use ingredients that don’t need a complex preservative system.  For example, jojoba oil naturally lasts for many years because it is a wax and therefore very stable. It is a natural skin food and a superb moisturiser – with no need for adulteration. Perfect!

Akamuti

“Most of my inspiration comes from nature itself; the colours, aromas & landscapes all contribute to the formulation of the products from the recipe to the packaging designs.” ~ Lindsey Hedges

Nature of Europe: Akamuti was one of the first beauty brands, offering beauty products with only a handful of natural ingredients. Is less more even when it comes to how many ingredients a formulation contains? 

Akamuti: We believe that good products don’t need to be complicated. Our ingredient lists are short and sweet, making them ideal for people with skin sensitivities and allergies. In a world where there are so many chemicals and pollutants, it is a privilege to be able to offer pure, wholesome products that make the skin happy, healthy and comfortable without resorting to man made, artificial ingredient lists.

Nature of Europe: As a faithful customer of natural beauty products and now a green beauty blogger sharing my experience with green beauty products and industry, I get frustrated with certain aspects of green beauty industry, mainly certain ingredients which are being used as well as eye-brow raising explanations why such ingredients are and should be used. Given you’re very much a part of green beauty industry, what frustrates you the most?

Akamuti: I am frustrated by the way the beauty industry is able to use the word natural, organic and fairtrade to promote their products, when there may be very little natural, organic or ethical content.  I also dislike the way products are promoted for their active ingredients, when there is usually very minimal content of the promoted ingredient.  Another area which I find frustrating is that many products on the market are severely overpriced, especially those where the main ingredient is water!

Nature of Europe: Regardless of the fact that certain conventional brands downplay natural beauty industry, and even go as far as saying how everyone knows that green beauty is just a fad and has no staying power, the customers have spoken and we have spoken very loud: we don’t want to eat an organic tomato and then spread beauty products containing carcinogenic ingredients on our face and body. What I’m saying is that green beauty industry is recording growth upon growth, and if you ask me – there won’t be any going back to conventional, synthetic and harmful beauty products. With that come the opportunists, also called greenwashers. What’s you take on this and where do you see green beauty industry in the near future?

Akamuti:  It is heartening to see that more and more people are learning about the benefits of organic food and natural, organic beauty products. More and more people are turning to natural alternatives, often because their skin or their health is suffering.  I am confident that more people will look for natural products in the future, as our concerns about climate change, pollution and the economy continues to grow. People want an alternative. Opportunists will always arise in a buoyant market but if this promotes natural, safe and healthy products that benefit the consumer then I’m happy to applaud it.

Akamuti

“We are passionate about using high quality ingredients because we believe our products should be wholesome, pure and as close to how nature intended them to be.” ~ Lindsey Hedges

Nature of Europe: Which is your favorite Akamuti product and why? 

Akamuti: It’s hard to choose, I have so many favourites! I love our African organic shea butter because apart from being a superb moisturiser it’s production benefits the hard working women’s co-operatives in Ghana.  It is fantastic to be able to supply such a wonderful tree butter and know that it benefits everyone from the grower to the consumer. I know so many customers whose lives have been improved by using shea butter!

Nature of Europe: Which is your favorite natural ingredient?

Akamuti: I love all of my natural ingredients but if I had to choose one it would be our organic forest beeswax which we buy from Ethiopia and Zambia. It is a beautifully fragrant wax which acts as a natural emulsifier and protective emollient with a very long shelf life. It is the foundation ingredient for many of our natural creams and balms. The wax is sustainably harvested by communities who depend on wild forests for their survival.  Using amazing ingredients like beeswax supports both people and our natural resources.

“We are what we eat and we are what we put on our skin!” ~ Lindsey Hedges

Nature of Europe: Aside from Akamuti, which are your favorite natural beauty brands/products? 

Akamuti: I buy mineral make up from Lily Lolo and cosmetics from Lavera.  It is important to me that the natural products I use are high-quality, free from nano-particles and cruelty-free. I have huge admiration for companies that care, some of my favourites include Pukka, Weleda, Florascent and Aubrey Organics.

Nature of Europe: As a small business owner, you have to stay on top of the ever evolving beauty industry, especially given how much interest the green beauty industry is commanding right now. What are you plans for Akamuti in the future? Expanding the products repertoire? 

Akamuti: Staying on the top of the evolving industry is one of the hardest parts of my job! We are currently busy building a new website and then we plan to bring out lots of new products. We want to offer more products and more choices for our customers in the hope that we can keep them returning to visit us.

Nature of Europe: What would you say to someone, who is (still) unsure whether or not to switch to natural beauty products? 

Akamuti: If you want happy, healthy skin there is nothing to lose!  We are what we eat and we are what we put on our skin! The benefits of using natural and organic products are enormous, not just to your own body but to the health of the environment as well.  If people are concerned about paying higher prices, it is worth remembering that natural products go much further and last longer than their conventional counterparts!

Nature of Europe: What does Lindsey do when she’s not running a successful natural beauty business? 

Akamuti: As with anyone who has their own business, it is easy to spend too much time being wrapped up in the day to day running of it! That is why I love to escape to spend time in nature! You will often find me at the beach or walking on the cliffs….. I love the sea! I enjoy spending time wherever there is some wilderness, big skies and wide open spaces.  I also love music and dancing.

Nature of Europe: Thank you, Lindsey, for kindly agreeing to have a chat with Nature of Europe. I wish you and Akamuti much success!

Akamuti: Thank you for your kind words Natasa, it has been a pleasure!

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If you wish to try the all natural Akamuti products, you can buy them in their online store. They ship to Europe, and I can assure you will receive a kind and professional customer service, along with great natural beauty products. After all these years, I still remember when I sent an email, inquiring about Akamuti products and shipping, and Lindsey sent me a kind and prompt email. Yes, a great customer service goes a long way and leaves a long-lasting good impression on a customer.

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You can connect with Akamuti via their Twitter and Facebook.

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For more information on Akamuti, visit their dedicated brand page.

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Photos courtesy of Akamuti.

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  2 Responses to “Interview with Lindsey Hedges, Founder of Akamuti

Comments (2)
  1. That’s a very interesting interview with one of my favourite brands too! Which Akamuti products are your favourite? I used their frankincense water as a toner. I would like to try their African Black Soap

    • Hey Yasmin! Thank you for the kind words about the interview! I loved the Watermelon Seed Oil – something really unique, many toners, as well as Orange Facial Cleanser. But – stay tuned for more on Akamuti, as there are reviews coming up, as well as many other super exciting things! Given you, too are a fan of Akamuti, I am certain you will like it! :)

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