In “typical” millennial fashion, I first stumbled on Sam Desalu’s page while randomly scrolling through Instagram. What initially caught my eye were nicely curated photos of a seemingly interesting, jet set life. However, after the first few glances, what truly caught my attention were various vivid snapshots of Samuel’s philanthropy work in Uganda. A few scrolls and clicks later and I had gathered that Sam Desalu, the self-proclaimed “social entrepreneur”, was using his natural skincare line, De Salu Naturals, to power his philanthropy work. I found it interesting that Sam had seemingly done what so many of us look to do–made money while still making it a priority to give back to your homeland and those in need.With this information in mind, I set out to speak to Sam and get a deeper understanding of De Salu Naturals.
What inspired you to initially go into skincare?
I’m a fan of natural hair and skincare products. The industry is booming as well, so that’s what inspired me to start an all natural hair and skincare company.
When did you decide to fully pursue entrepreneurship?
I decided that I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship in 2009 when I left college. I disliked working for other people, I wanted to be my own boss and make my own dreams come true.
What are some of the challenges that you faced as a young entrepreneur?
As a young entrepreneur, I’ve faced a lot of challenges. Lack of capital to start certain projects, opportunities that I wanted were given to older individuals because they had “more experience” and being told no a lot.
On Instagram you seem to be a jack of all trades, what other endeavors are you a part of?
It’s a must to have more than one hustle. The average millionaire has a minimum of 7 streams of income. Apart from the philanthropy work I do, I have a few other businesses that I’ve started. I have an image consulting company called Forefront Image. I also have a creative space called Loft 303. I rent out to photographers and other creatives in Los Angeles. I’m also on the management team of a big Nigerian Afrobeat Artist by the name of Runtown. I’m a scout and manager for young soccer talent from Africa. I’m also a freelance marketing & branding consultant to a few companies.
Your company works in different parts of Africa, while from my understanding you’re based in the U.S. How did you go about building those connections in far away locations?
De Salu Naturals is based in Los Angeles, California. I travel to the motherland minimum 6-8 times a year. While I’m there one of my main goals is to make as many beneficial connections as possible. I maintain those connections via email, whatsapp and trips back to the various countries, where the connects are.
What are the disadvantages of running a business where you are doing business on different continents?
There really aren’t any disadvantages. The only one I could think of is maybe the time difference. Technology is so advance now. We have so many ways to communicate. I also have a strong team that holds me down in the various countries we do work in.
I love that your business incorporates charity in your business model, what inspired you to follow that route?
I started De Salu Naturals because I wanted to create a self-sustainable company, that does not depend on donations in order to give back. The companies focus is providing women and girls with sanitary reusable pads.
How did you initially team up with AFRIpads and do you have an idea of how many AFRIpads that you’ve given away so far?
The plan was to make our own reusable pads but the start up costs for that was a lot. I did some research and came across AFRIpads website. They are located in Kampala, Uganda so it worked out perfectly. We have given out over 400 AFRIpads so far.
What do you believe makes your product stand out from similar items from different companies?
“Solve a real problem. You don’t start a company because you want to become an entrepreneur or the fame and glory that comes with it. You start a company to solve a real problem.”- Aaron Patzer. I started De Salu Naturals because I wanted to do my part in making the world a better place, not for a financial gain.
Favorite skincare tip?
When I was 15, my mom sent me back to Nigeria to live with my grandma for two years. My grandma taught me a lot. A lot of people suffer from Acne. My grandma told me to wash my face at night with good soap, apply calamine lotion at night and in the morning wash it off and use cocoa butter. Pimples form at night because the skin becomes very oily. The calamine lotion drys your skin so pimples don’t form. I never had acne but the tip works to keep one’s skin nice and smooth.
Where do you see De Salu naturals and yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I see De Salu Naturals being a household name and doing work within all the African countries.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in going into business but also wants to use their business to give back to their community?
My advice would be to not to focus on the money a company will make but to focus on the ultimate goal, which is to provide one’s consumers a great product/service and the people you will be aiding with the funds made.
Check out Sam’s brand, De Salu Naturals here: www.desalunaturals.com