Gloucestershire born beauty brand secures £1M funding
Liha Beauty has raised £1 million via a funding round led by private equity. The investment follows the £200,000 raised by the organic skin care brand pre-pandemic.
LIHA was founded by Gloucestershire-born Liha Okunniwa and London girl Abi Oyepitan, who met at university in 1998.
Whilst Abi was travelling the world as a professional athlete, competing in two Olympic games, Liha was setting up an art publishing business.
In the Yoruba (Nigerian) tradition making beautifying oils, soaps and lotions from the nuts, tree bark and plants that grew in abundance was a skill that was traditionally learned by all young women. Liha's mother is an English aromatherapist, so she started to blend the two disciplines together.
Liha said: "Whenever Abi would travel I would ask her to bring back different ingredients- especially that good Nigerian Shea from her father’s town."
Liha and Abi started their business on £3,000 of savings each.
Posting the news of the £1M investment on LinkedIn, Liha said: "Over the years we have been to countless investment meetings where people were genuinely baffled that we couldn’t ‘just do a friends and family round’ , or quit our (two) other day jobs we were each working in the very early days to prove concept/ have first mover advantage.
"People often ask if we knew then what we know now would we have gone a different route and tried to raise super early on just with concept and no market proof. Maybe it would have been quicker, sure, maybe ‘easier’. But we all know the statistics on black woman founders and what percentage of investor / private equity capital actually reaches our banks."
"Also the beauty culture hadn’t shifted in our direction yet. Because we had to get out there and shift it ourselves."
But while Liha and Abi were still making their products in their kitchens, they were being featured in Vogue and other glossy magazines.