For over 10 years, I had the honor of printing the labels for her fine products. In the beginning, she was selling her products to local stores like Olive May Health Food stores. She was innovative. Her popular product was 100% organic Shea Butter and Super Hair Grow. Slowly and gradually, she improved and introduced more products in the market.
Now, she has Products like Mango Shea Butter, Shea Butter, Super Hair Grow, Shea Butter Lotion, Shea Cocoa Butter, Lavender Lotion, different Body Washes, and over 10 varieties of Black Soaps. She also produces natural Shea Butter shampoos as well.
Ms. Dukuray was born in Sierra Leone. One day, her daughter developed an aggressive ringworm that resulted in baldness on the top of her head. Traditional physicians prescribed a myriad of topical ointments and shampoos that did nothing to eradicate the condition. Out of desperation, Aminata created an ointment with shea butter and an assortment of herbs that she began using on her child. She also created a shampoo using these ingredients and a number of minerals as well. Within days, Ms. Dukuray noticed significant hair growth in her daughter's bald spot. Within days the skin condition was cleared up, and within weeks the bald spot was replaced by healthy growing hair.
Desperately in need of working capital and guidance, Aminata turned to the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Rutgers-Newark for help. She attended the Center's Introduction to Entrepreneurship Q&A, which she says, "It helped me to understand how to start a business and get registered...it really helped me a lot. They made it so easy because my English was not very good at the time."
Thereafter, the Director referred her to one of the business counselors who assisted her with the development of a business plan as well as assistance in the development of additional business skills and expertise. Upon completion of the business plan, Ms. Dukuray was able to secure a microloan from a lender. With this early success, African Secret financed initial inventory development and product promotion. She was able to convince the buyer at one Walmart store to carry a couple of her products on a trial basis. Today, she is in 9 Walmart stores in Northern New Jersey and is looking to expand into the tri-state area. The NJSBDC at Rutgers-Newark is currently working with her on developing her distribution channel in order to expand her operations.