Leila Janah founded LXMI after a chance discovery of Nilotica, LXMI's signature ingredient, at a market in Uganda. She was astounded by the rare butter's ability to transform her moisture-deprived, overly-traveled skin from lackluster to luminous. Once she learned that she could help marginalized East African women find dignified work through the wild harvesting, production and exportation of Nilotica, she knew she had to change her life to share her new skincare secret with the world.
But she didn't stop there. She went the extra mile(s) to source Nilotica Reserve™, now LXMI's exclusive form of the butter, from the highest grade nuts in the most pristine areas of the Nile River Valley. Nilotica Reserve's characteristics are sky-high essential fatty acids (+25% that of traditional Shea Butter), natural vitamin crystals that dissolve on skin, and impact sourcing techniques to ensure that LXMI producers are always paid living wages for their efforts.
It was an honor to interview Leila and learn more about the brand, her story and more!
What is the history/story of LXMI?
As a social entrepreneur and founder of Samasource, I have dedicated my life to giving work to help alleviate global poverty, so I never thought I would find myself in the beauty industry. But I was traveling in rural Uganda when I discovered Nilotica Reserve™, a pure, rare, organic ingredient that transformed my dry skin to dewy almost immediately. When I learned I could mport this active and help give job opportunities to war widows in East Africa, LXMI was born.
Please tell me about your social impact and exactly how it works and how you work with the women.
Instead of buying raw ingredients "off the shelf," we go directly to the source, which in our case is the Nile River Valley. We employ hundreds of women harvesters to collect Nilotica nuts that have fallen from 20-year-old trees, and even more women to hand-make the nuts into luscious Nilotica butter. These women earn 3x the wages they could make doing any other job in Uganda when they work for LXMI. We could import the nuts and process the butter in a lab, but we choose to keep production in rural East Africa, where job opportunities are desperately needed for women to lift up themselves and their families.
How do you work with the women in Africa on an ongoing basis?
We have to balance our supply needs and their harvesting seasons, which isn't easy! Luckily Nilotica has a long shelf life without preservatives, so we are able o take advantage of large batches. The salaries the women earn help them pay for healthcare, education, and other basic needs for their families. (It's now well proven that when women earn money, they redirect it to the family -- all the more reason to empower women!)
How did you discover the ingredients in your products and how did you learn the benefits of these?
I stumbled across our star ingredient, Nilotica Reserve™, at a market in rural Uganda, where I went to buy fruits and other mementos. My skin was dry and damaged from too much traveling, so I had been using some expensive salves from Duty Free. I didn't have high hopes for Nilotica, but when I tried it, my jaw dropped. I knew I had to share it with friends and family, and when I learned more about the women behind the product, I couldn't help but see the business opportunity. Now we've submitted Nilotica for clinical testing, and my impressions were correct: 100% of testers saw more hydrated, brightened, and smoother skin!
What makes LXMI skin care products the best of it’s kind in Africa?
Traditional Western Shea Butter is a great commodity, but because of its cakey texture and strong odor, it has to be refined or blended with (often harsh) chemicals to be appropriate to rub on skin. Nilotica is different -- it's creamy, luxe texture comes from nature, and it feels like a high-end emulsion as a single ingredient. LXMI's exclusive version, Nilotica Reserve™, is even more special, as it is sourced from the purest places in East Africa to ensure +25% more essential fatty acids v. traditional beauty oils.
How does LXMI differentiate itself from all other natural and organic skincare products?
Our star ingredient, Nilotica Reserve™, and our commitment to impact sourcing practices and fair trade standards. These elements are not afterthoughts for LXMI; they are our reason for being.
Who do you think is the leader in natural and organic skincare products?
I find some of my favorite natural brands in Europe! EU regulations are more strict about hazardous ingredients, and the European mindset is one of gentle, but still effective, treatment of skin.
What was the original you have set out for yourself?
launched LXMI to WORK...for dehydrated skin, and for women who need job opportunities. That sentiment remains our mission today.
What do you think is the future of skincare?
implicity and transparency. The days of secret miracle cocktails of hundreds of potentially-irritating-and-synthetic actives are gone.
What do you believe is the single most valuable product one can use daily, and why?
A moisture balm! Sealing in skincare ingredients and moisture has made a world of difference for my skin. Too many people leave out this step before bedtime, but it can help balance and nourish even the oiliest, active, breakout-prone skin. It may not be intuitive, but try it for a couple of weeks. You'll never turn back.
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
Ugh, this question is impossible to answer. I've been lucky enough to travel the world, and it has enriched my life more than I can explain. I will say I recently went to Suriname, and it rocked my world.
~Rochelle Truxal, Founder of Pearlesque Box