A Local Chicago Couple creates a plant-based detergent
Sylvia Emuwa noticed her daughter was having an allergic reaction to the diaper, so she decided to cloth diaper. To successfully cloth diaper, a specific detergent suitable for the cloth is needed. Emuwa also wanted to be earth-friendly, but she found those products didn’t clean the cloth diapers well enough.
Sylvia and her husband, Augustine, wanted to find a plant-based detergent to address all of their family of six skin, laundry and cleaning needs, so they created Dinobi Detergent, a plant-based detergent.
Dinobi comes from Augusine’ Nigerian roots and means precious in Igbo. It was a word he heard growing up. When he and Sylvia created the brand, they wanted to make sure it expressed what they believed about people. The tagline of the product is Precious Ingredients for Precious Skin.
The detergent was lab tested for a couple of years, then once the Emuwas locked the formula down, they decided to bring it to the market. They started off with family and friends, then started to sell the product at local farmer markets and curated markets throughout the city. People liked the product so much, it caught the attention of Grove Collaborative, Eco and the Flamingo, and the Silver Room.
Dinobi has the detergent now, but there are plans to expand into other products, including a dish detergent which is set to come out in the summer. There also are plans to expand the detergent to include various essential oil blends.
“For us, it was important to get our business model and our story and our formulations right, through the detergent, but we are an ever-growing company,” Augustine said.
The Emuwas work with a chemist to create their unique formulation of a plant-based and plant-derived detergent. There was extended testing and they constantly test to make sure the product doesn’t irritate the skin.
“I think that for us, it was important to be more minimal in our laundry room. We would walk in the laundry room previously and it would be six or seven different brands for all these different issues in the house and it just felt like, if we had something natural. We work the science and make sure it’s effective, it should be able to work for everybody,” Augustine said.
There are not a lot of Black entrepreneurs in the laundry detergent space. There is space for Black business owners in the market. The Emuwas have been pushing against the narrative that the only space for Black business owners are haircare and food.
“We want to be known as a Black-owned business that has an amazing, integrity-based formula and product. We want to really be good and take the tag of being a Black-owned business and evolve it, so that it becomes synonymous with excellence,” Augustine said.
One of the Emuwas biggest legacies is being in business as a couple and owning a brand as a family. Sylvia could not have asked for a better partner in Augustine. In working with a spouse, being able to compartmentalize in order to make sure the business doesn’t spill into the relationship is very important.
“You have to extract your personal feelings, just like you would do at any other job. The support that you get on the flipside, because someone really believes and knows you intimately, they believe in you, they believe in your brand, they believe in your dreams, it’s support like no other,” Sylvia said.
For any couple that is thinking about enterprising together, Augustine said, going back to the purpose is important. The Emuwas purpose is to create a legacy for their family and their community. They’ve learned to fall in love with the process.
To purchase Dinobi, visit www.dinobidetergent.com.
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