Eléngé means Youthful in the language Lingala, from DRC Congo. Not the physical look, but internal youth that reflects externally. Eléngé is a London-based Skin Care company with Congolese roots. A skincare brand focused on using sustainable methods to produce natural, organic, handmade, vegan and nontoxic products. Providing Unbeatable moisturizing and healing properties that make the products suitable for every skin type. Founded by our Boss Lady of the week, Carine Moko, Elenge is a rich blend of creativity, art, and the African spirit! We are so excited to introduce this brand to you~ scroll down and enjoy our chat with the amazing and inspiring Carine Moko
Who is “Carine Moko”
I am 33 years old and I reside in London with my three children and husband. I work in schools as a Teaching assistant and also run my business Eléngé full time. I have worked with children in schools for over five years providing food projects that focus on teaching children healthier ways to eat. In 2012 I decided to start my own Congolese catering business, which I ran in my cafe Congo Dish.
In 2017 life took a turn when my son was diagnosed with Leukemia, we had to live in the hospital, which was such a traumatic time for us. After my son was discharged from the hospital, I decided to change the products we used and the food we ate, I started hand-making my own hair and skincare products. At First, I would make it for my family, but my friends loved the shea butter and would request it all the time, so I decided to turn it into a business.
Starting a skincare business with Shea butter as its main product, a beauty ingredient women in Africa have used for years and refer to as gold, is an amazing achievement. As I am sharing it with women who are from different backgrounds, other than Africa. I’m using shea butter as a bridge to connect women from all walks of life who have one thing in common: Natural skincare.
As a Black women we are embracing our beauty and strength and using it to support each other and build opportunities so the younger generations will find it easier to move through this world with lustrous hair and divine melanated skin!” It’s time to take control of our beauty secrets, share it with the world and use it in the process to provide financial stability for ourselves.
Can you tell us about Elenge, what it means and what inspired this line of business?
Eléngé means Youthful in my language Lingala, from DRC Congo. Not youthful in a way of you looking young physically, but more in the way of how you carry yourself which then makes you look youthful on the outside and inside. So you can say to a man who is 50 years old, eléngé ya mubali which means youthful of a man, and the same can be said to a woman. The word eléngé is not bound to the age of the person. This is why myself and husband selected the name eléngé because it represents my products perfectly, as the purpose of my products are to help heal, regenerate and moisturise your skin so that you achieve healthy skin and look youthful in that sense, there is no promise of trying to make you look younger like most beauty companies falsely advertise and sell.
I wanted to create something that I can use on myself and children, something that is toxin free and beneficial for your skin. Shea butter is perfect, as it’s something that African women have used for years to help keep skin moisturised. It’s easy and fun to work with if you understand its texture. With my shea butter you can customise your own scent, which you won’t really find out there in the market.
What has been the Highlight for you since you founded your business?
Being featured in black magazines such as black beauty, spell magazine, The Voice. I used to read Black beauty magazines in school, and the voice newspaper was that we read to find out what was happening in the black community. Spell Magazines I would always pop into the beauty shop to see if there was any copy left. And honestly being contacted to be featured on Lady Boss Africa, is a BIG achievement for me. There is a different feeling of joy that I get as a black woman, as an African woman, when my own people see me, see my work, and support me. It is a spiritual joy and healing for me.
How do you handle running your business successfully and what is your mission?
My plan is to have my own shop, full or body butters and a space I can run workshops to help older women in London who are vulnerable and alone gain and learn new skills. My shea butter comes from Ghana and is made by Ghanaian women, and the same with my coffee which comes from Congo DRC and again women are doing all the work, so that I can have these ingredients to make my products. So I want to find ways in which I can continue to support these women. Whether it be through a charity I set up, I have to find a way to support these women so that they can gain new skills and have a financial way to support themselves and their families.
As an African woman, as a Congolese woman raised in the UK, I am very connected to my roots, I speak my language, I eat and cook my food, and my husband is Congolese too. I am always thinking of ways that I can help African women, it’s something that I am truly passionate about and why it was and is important for me to use ingredients sourced from the continent that birthed me. This always keeps me connected to Africa and is a constant reminder to me to keep Africa alive in me, in my images and in my business, and let people know that Africa is in me, it’s in the products you are using…
How do you stay innovative? And Your Plans as an entrepreneur In Five Years?
I try to do research on where the world is going with sustainability and how skincare fits into that plan and what ways I can contribute to that with my products and business. In five years I want have a shops across the UK, a centre to help Vulnerable women in the UK and a centre in Congo to help train women gain skills and provide rape women with Counselling and shelter and also help the women transition into employment. And do the same with the countries in Africa.
Care to talk about challenges on your journey and Lessons you’ve learnt?
To be honest my biggest challenge in running a business is being a mother and a wife, my husband is VERY supportive and has helped me tremendously with my business, he branded my whole business, from the logos, images to packaging, he’s an amazing graphic designer. Being a woman means you’re always giving, and this includes cooking too ha ha.
A lot of my energy and time goes to my family, so splitting my time and managing my time is difficult. This is my biggest challenge. Their dad is always there, in the house, they can see him and hear him…but they will always ask me, bother me, Btw their dad is a good cook, but it’s mum.. mum.. mum. I hardly get any sleep, I will just sleep when my children leave home, It’s mum life ha ha .. What can I do?
Do you have mentors? Who are they and how important is mentorship to you?
I don’t have any mentors; I watch a lot of YouTube videos and listen to podcasts and audiobooks of women and men who inspire me. My husband motivates me and advises me a lot so to be honest he is my mentor. I pray a lot and fast every month, so my intuition is always leading me to make the right decisions.
Tips on how you handle when the going gets tough?
It is wise to have the RIGHT people, the Right FRIENDS and select the Right family member(s) around you that can help and support you if you need extra hands, without holding it against you. People who are just willing to help you with a clean heart whenever you need the help or support. You can’t do everything alone, you will always need help, but make sure it’s from the right people.
What skin care tips would you recommend?
Don’t use too many products and keep changing to this one and to that one, like you’re deciding what dress to wear on a night out.. Have your products that work best in summer and those that work best in winter. Exercise, eat healthy, and food that targets your skin. Drink water, pray and mind your own business.
Final words to entrepreneurs who want to go into the beauty industry and women in our community?
Start with what you have and do what you can until you are able to do what you want to do. Find a mentor or surround yourself with at least two people from your industry, YouTube has everything you need to know, the internet is your friend. If you go to a supermarket how many breads will you find from different companies? There are more than ten yet they are all making money. So focus on what you are doing and only look at other people to get inspiration. Don’t focus on competing as there is space for everyone, however still work to be ahead of the game. Make sure you’re visible, stand out and be recognised for your style / trend / brand/ product.
As a human my advice is to Be kind and give back as much as you can. Be wise, Be True. Be strong. Remember those who supported you from the beginning and don’t get lost in success. Good hearts always win, but are stamped on more, so Never doubt your spirit… Intuition is key for survival. God first…
The Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.