The West African Secret to Super Smooth Skin Is Only $24
"Why is that hanging in your shower?" friends used to ask Caroline Owusu-Ansah when they'd come over to her house in high school. What they were gesturing to was a long cut of mesh, much like tightly woven fisherman's net made of nylon. A first generation Ghanian growing up in Boston, Owusu-Ansah found it odd to have her friends question something so commonplace in her life. She had grown up using the mesh body exfoliator—it was something used by West Africans for generations (as Owusu-Ansah assures, you'd find it in any Ghanaian or Nigerian home in the States). But to her friends, it was a mystery—a strange object to find simply hanging in a classmate's bathroom. What they certainly didn't know was what they stumbled upon was the West African secret to super smooth skin.
Now, thanks to Owusu-Ansah, the miracle exfoliator is readily available to anyone seeking smooth, beautiful skin, thanks to her company Luv Scrub. But from those first inquiries from high school friends, the brand took some time to come to fruition. We had Owusu-Ansah fill us in on the journey (and everything we wanted to know about the Luv Scrub).
It was one of these awkward bathroom occurrences that sparked the beginnings of Luv Scrub, shortly after Owusu-Ansah graduated from college in 1999. "My best friend, she's white, came to stay with me," recalls Owusu-Ansah. Instead of the questions Owusu-Ansah had encountered in school, this friend went ahead and used her mesh exfoliator without asking. In fact, the friend loved it so much that when Owusu-Ansah's parents went back to Ghana (they're from Kumasi from the Ahanti tribe) she had them bring one back for her. "At the time I didn't think of it as a business. It didn't click then." Three years later, at a party in Brooklyn, someone complemented Owusu-Ansah on her skin. She explained that the mesh exfoliator she grew up with was to thank for her glowing, smooth skin. That's when things clicked.
Owusu-Ansah knew there was nothing like the mesh exfoliator she grew up with on the market, so she used her education and experience in retail merchandising and branding to build a brand around the traditional West African bath tool. "It had just been a beauty secret people knew about but people didn't talk about," Owusu-Ansah explains. She saw an opportunity to bring the product to the people before they even knew enough about it to create a demand. She sent samples to a high-end spa in Boston and a few days later they called back and wanted to place an order. "I did it more as a hobby," Owusu-Ansah admits of her company's first days. After taking a break from the project, she started it up again, this time wanting "to do it with intention," she notes. She refined the product itself (back home she says it's a rough cut of the material so she gave it clean cut edges), gave it an identity, branded it, gave it the name Luv Scrub, and designed the packaging.
Now Owusu-Ansah's Luv Scrub is available at Urban Outfitters and the Luv Scrub site. She says that since its widespread success she's constantly hearing feedback from fans about new uses. "For instance, it helps with ingrown hairs, people who have chicken skin," Explains Owusu-Ansah. "It's excellent for that—keratosis pilaris is gone." Luv Scrub is also great for back acne since it can easily be held in such a way to scrub your back, as well as exfoliating before self-tanning or a spray tan. "You don't have to go out and buy additional tools," says Owusu-Ansah. "It doesn't breed bacteria like other back tools" and you can easily clean it with hot water and letting it air dry. Instead of a month or so of life you'd get out of a loofah or a sponge, you can use your Luv Scrub for up to 18 months. Owusu-Ansah says that people got wind of it back home and it went viral. "They were so amazed that I actually put it in a box and gave it a brand name and sold it to Americans," she says. "Everyone's very excited and they're very proud."
Head below to get your hands on your own Luv Scrub to test it for yourself.
Luv Scrub Mesh Body Exfoliator ($24)
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