Leesah Sophia B doesn't think the story of Inky Loves Nature is all that exciting.
She couldn't find any attractive, organic, vegan, environmentally friendly hair and body products for women of color with natural hair.
"I saw all these cute products aimed at Caucasian women, but not women who looked like me," says Leesah, (aka Miss Inky). "I was looking for a product, I couldn't find it, so I decided to create it. It's a typical story."
But Inky Loves Nature is far from a typical company.
Launched in the summer of 2005, the company now sells seven natural, vegan products designed to make people "look good, smell good, feel good, be good and do good." The products have names like Self Love Body Scrub, Warrier Queen Cleanser and Magical Melanin Moisturizer, and are available in a variety of scents. One of the stars of the Inky line is Nappaliscious Nutritious Scalp Butter, which is loaded with nourishing and scalp-stimulating ingredients.
"I wanted to be more pro-active and contribute to the world and my community," says the British native, who now lives in New Bergen, N.J. "With a sprinkling of some peace, love and positive energy, I just blended it all together and Inky Loves Natural is what came out of the oven."
Leesah says she became a vegan herself at a young age because of her emotional connection to animals. She says Inky is just an extension of who she is and how she lives.
"I am a woman of color who is a vegan and who buys and uses organic ingredients/products," she says. "I wanted to use products that encompassed all those elements that I'm interested in and involved in."
All Inky products are at least 97 percent naturally derived, and 70 of the ingredients are organically grown. They also are free from parabens, dyes, sulfates, proopylene glycol, alcohols, mercury, formaldehyes, silicones and mineral oil. She's also a "cruelty-free approved" manufacturer.
Leesah says she has been surprised by the growth of her company, and the diversity of her customers.
"When I first started, my assumption was that the customers would be like me -- women of color who like to wear their hair in natural textures," she says. "But they include men and women of all ethnicities. Right now, it's about the conscious consumers."
This year, she plans to add new products and continue working on the causes that are important to her. She wants her company to be one that empowers people to do good things.
"In my heart, I would like us to be a company that contributes more in every way -- from hiring ex-female prisoners to helping animal organizations in Africa to planting a fast-growing tree with each sale," Leesah says. "You should know that advocacy, the environment, peace and love, with a pinch of animal and human rights issues thrown in, are Inky's thang."