Value vs Ethics

My name is Nnenna (name changed). It’s been three months since I opened my small cosmetics store. I love cosmetics and I browse the internet to find out the latest cosmetics in the market so that i can sell them to my customers. It was when I was browsing I discovered the benefits of using natural oils and foods for the skin. I am dark in complexion and I have a really lovely skin.

80% of the people who walk into my cosmetics shop demand for bleaching and toning creams. I am well aware of the trend here in Lagos were ladies (and men), change the colour of their skin using different mixtures of creams. I decided to keep stocking up my shop based on what is high on demand; Bleaching and toning creams, soaps etc. However I am not happy because I am well aware of the side effects of using these products. I have stocked away the natural coconut oils , cocoa butter , and carrot oils because they are usually shunned when I mention them. I feel it’s wrong to sell what is harmful to customers but the demand is high and I really want to grow my business. What do I do?

Nnenna from Lagos

  • BB

    Dear Nnenna,
    Remember, you’re in business not just to make profit, but to add value. If you’re adding value, the customers will come. If you’ve discovered the benefits of natural products over chemicals, carve a niche for yourself in this area.

    Don’t be quiet about it. Let the people know. If your advertising game is tight, they’ll know you’re not playing. Maybe have one or two people try it. Take it from there.

    But what you should never do is compromise. If you’re looking to build a lasting business, take the high road and never compromise. In time it will be worth it.

  • Joan

    I think you should align your business with your core values. I am in a sales business and I understand also the importance of meeting your customer’s needs, however it will do your business great good to beat ethical standards than meet them. All the best!

  • Dawn

    Nnenna, business values are more important than the demands of consumers. Their demands are going to change with time. Carve a niche based on your business values and you are sure to thrive.

  • Ogunnaike Mobolaji

    It’s a good thing you want to make a correction to the market demand, but it’s also not an easy thing to do. You need to work hard at it. I really don’t see anything wrong in selling the toning creams as long as you are selling the industry standard and not cutting corners on the cheap ones to sell for profit.
    Another thing is advertising yourself using your product. Most people who sell these toning creams show it on theirselves. Now if you want to show that natural oils are better options, you need to sell your product using yourself first. Flaunt your velvet skin on natural oils.
    You can also see some cosmetologists on this case and even maybe come up with toners which are safer for the skins. I can suggest CustomCosmetics ( They got their factory here in Lagos and have a variety of products. You can work on brand manufacturing or even an advanced modified formulation to the unsafe ones.

    All the Best.