A little about you:
Iman Ogoo: East Londoner, mother of three boys, major Prince fan, and owner/founder of Imanmade Natural Skin Care, a range of all-natural products created to moisturise and protect skin from dryness, while being gentle enough for use on sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
Why you set up your company…
As child I had severe eczema and mild asthma as well as food, pet and environmental allergies such as dust and mould. Thankfully I grew out of most of my food allergies by my late teens, but when I had children two of my sons inherited my eczema, asthma and allergies in addition to Anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reactions). One son has fish egg, peanut allergies, the other has dairy, egg, peanut, wheat allergies. When a prescribed moisturiser caused chemical burns on my youngest son, I took matters into my own hands, researching natural ingredients and created products to gently heal the damage while maintaining healthy skin for the whole family. The impressive results created the desire to share my products with others who faced the same challenges caring for problematic skin
What are you company main aims…. To provide natural skin care solutions for dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
How have you coped with allergies..
I manage my own allergies by avoiding known allergy culprits; I do my best to keep my home dust and mould-free, cleaning regularly using specialist equipment such as vacuum cleaners and air purifiers with HEPA filters. My sons have EpiPen injections to hand at all times in case of Anaphylactic reactions. I generally try to live as naturally and healthily as possible. I make ‘green’ vegetable juices almost daily and buy or make natural personal care products (aside from my skin care) such as toothpaste, deodorants etc.
I also found a great natural inhaler (www.herbalator.com) for my allergies so I rarely have a need for antihistamines any more. They also make an asthma inhaler which I use.
How has your family coped with allergies…
I taught my sons about their allergies from a young age so in the event of my absence they could ask the right questions and speak up about their allergies. For my toddler we use simple statements like: “Milk makes me sick. I can only have my special milk”. I also created a basic ‘manual’ for my sons to help family members and close friends who wanted to care for them or have them to stay overnight but found the allergies daunting. The manual contained info of my sons’ allergies, medication, skin care routines, preferences and what to do in the case of an emergency.
There are times when the allergies make my sons feel alienated, for example once at a children’s party, my toddler had to sit on his own, away from the main party table with all the pizza, cake and ‘fun stuff’ that would cause a severe reaction. The venue did not allow me to provide my own food so my son had to make do with a jacket potato and a few beans. As you can imagine he was very tearful and did not enjoy that part of the day.
What is missing in your life to make allergies a lot easier to cope with…
It’s a little easier now, but when my sons were babies I found it difficult to find readymade food or snacks that did not contain at least one of their allergens. I mostly made my own baby food, but there were times when I needed spare meals to carry around in the baby bag for unexpected or extended days out. I would spend so much time in the baby food aisle having to read ingredients because there was never one brand I could trust to just ‘grab and go’.
I actually considered starting a business making allergy-friendly baby food but life was just so hectic at the time that it wasn’t feasible and I later fell into skin care instead.
Now the boys are older I sometimes run out of ideas for meals and find myself repeating the same dishes again and again. Because some of their allergens conflict, I also have to make two separate dinners on some days.
When my sons were babies, coping with their allergies and eczema at night was difficult. They would awaken several times a night and cry constantly due to itching or discomfort. Anti histamines were used regularly to calm the irritations but they didn’t always work. This resulted in a few hard years of minimum sleep with both boys. Some extra emotional support or counselling would have been brilliant, but thankfully I have a wonderful family who did their best to support us during those difficult years.
What drives you each day to continue…
Knowing that I am helping others to manage their dry and delicate skin with gentle, natural products. Every time a customer tells me how my products have improved their skin, I feel like all the hard work is worth it.
What are your plans for next year…
Next year I plan to expand my range of products and make them available at a select few retail outlets.
Imanmade Natural Skin Care products are available online at www.imanmade.com