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‘’ Visibility for entrepreneurs is more than just being seen, it is about embracing your story and becoming the driving change behind your brand.'' Jen Martens

Jen Martens, Founder of ŌMAKA Naturkosmetik

Jen Martners is the founder and CEO of ŌMAKA Naturkosmetik, the first brand developing and launching a solid shampoo bar for curls and Afro hair in the German-speaking market. She is on a mission to promote and support the beauty and self-love of people with curly and Afro hair.

Jen was featured and recognized with many awards throughout her entrepreneurial journey like the Support Her Award by Cosmopolitan, in the sustainability category and as an advocate for diversity in the hair care industry.

She is one of the #Zukunftsmacherinnen 2023 by Business Insider Germany and was honored by the ‘’Beyond Gender Agenda’’ as the woman of the year among other total of 101 successful women who are driving the German economy in the year of 2024, and many other nominations such as Handelsblatt, BUNTE, ELLE or STRIVE.

Jen is a Grace alumna and joined our Grace Community Event to talk about Founders Mindset, Visibility, and her overall experience founding ŌMAKA.

Can you tell us more about the story behind ŌMAKA Naturkosmetik? And how did it all start?

I founded ŌMAKA in 2019 out of  a personal need coupled with a broader shared challenge faced by individuals with different types of curly hair, particularly in Germany.

Recognizing the gap in the market and the lack of specialized and sustainable products for curly hair care, I was inspired to create a brand that not only addressed my own needs but also aimed to make a positive impact on the curly hair community in Germany.

Beyond just offering products, ŌMAKA is dedicated to fostering a sense of empowerment for those navigating the uniqueness of curly hair care. The ultimate goal is to create a space where individuals can embrace their natural curls and feel confident in their unique beauty.  

By combining personal experience, a commitment to community building, and a focus on sustainability, ŌMAKA aims to redefine the curly hair care landscape in Germany, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and empowering beauty culture.

Many aspiring founders struggle with some form of self-doubt. We often hear questions like “Am I really an entrepreneur? Should I talk about my idea already? Can you share some insights into your own experience overcoming self-doubt?

Navigating self-doubt is a common challenge for many aspiring founders. I faced moments of uncertainty and questioned my own abilities in my founding journey.

One key aspect of overcoming self-doubt was learning to listen to my inner voice. Trusting my instincts and acknowledging the passion and purpose that fueled the creation of ŌMAKA allowed me to push through moments of uncertainty.

While seeking feedback is crucial, I also learned the importance of balancing external input. Too much feedback can lead to noise and confusion, potentially derailing your original vision. It's essential to filter feedback, keeping what aligns with your values and goals while staying true to your vision.

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I also found inspiration and support through women empowerment. Recognizing the challenges faced by women in the business world, I worked on being part of women founders communities and building my network to be empowered by other women facing similar challenges and struggles in the business world, where we came up together to share our journey and support each other.

Can you share a particular moment in your journey that was challenging, and how you navigated through it?

In the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship, there's a pivotal moment in my journey with ŌMAKA that stands out. Imagine that, I kickstarted Omaka in my own kitchen, balancing entrepreneurial dreams while nursing my child. However, as more and more orders poured in and ŌMAKA was growing, I hit a roadblock and I realized that I couldn't do it all on my own anymore.

It was a transformative moment. Instead of succumbing to the pressure, I turned to my network for support. I started my hiring process, from individuals managing orders and inventory to a social media expert handling our online presence, and even a stylist to ensure I rocked the stage at important events.

This transition was not just about delegation but also to work out the strength of the network I had cultivated, and it was two-way; I lean on them, and they lean on me. Building the right team and a strong network was the answer for me.

So, my founding journey isn't just a solo endeavor; it's a collective effort fueled by a diverse network, a supportive team, and a commitment to empowering voices – mine and those like me.

Building visibility as an entrepreneur is crucial, can you walk us through how you started to "get out there" with your story?

Establishing visibility as an entrepreneur has been a journey of self-discovery and strategic choices. Initially, I hesitated to be the face of my company, fearing it might confine me to a certain image. However, I soon realized that intertwining my personal story with the brand was essential for bringing ŌMAKA to life.

During my participation in the Grace program, a pivotal moment occurred as my coach emphasized that my identity and the company were inseparable, a reminder that everything I built was an extension of me and my story and stressing the importance of being the visible force behind the brand, especially if I aspired for ŌMAKA to be a beloved brand.

Embracing my unique identity became a key strategy. Sharing my journey as a black woman and a mother living in the suburbs added a layer of authenticity that set ŌMAKA apart from the competition. My personal story became a powerful tool, not only for personal branding but also as a way to connect with the audience on a deeper level.

In the early stages, leveraging my personal brand was instrumental in gaining visibility, opening doors for ŌMAKA to be featured by big players in the industry. However, as the brand evolved, I recognized the need to strike a balance. While my story remains a crucial part of Omaka's identity, there's a concerted effort to let ŌMAKA stand as its own entity.

This transition involves crafting a narrative that allows the brand to shine independently, yet still acknowledging the roots and values that make it unique.  In essence, the journey to visibility involved a shift from reluctance to embrace my personal story to a strategic understanding of its importance. Balancing personal and company branding has been an ongoing process, and I am actively working to establish ŌMAKA as a distinct brand while maintaining the authenticity that makes it stand out.

Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey, what was your most valuable lesson, and what advice would you give to others aspiring to make a meaningful impact?

Reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey, one lesson has proven invaluable, and it's a piece of advice I'd strongly share with aspiring entrepreneurs: cultivate a peer group.

Regularly coming together with like-minded individuals, whether weekly or monthly, to discuss both the highs and lows of your entrepreneurial experience can provide a fresh perspective on challenges and problems.  

In my case, I joined a mastermind group with fellow founders during my time in the Grace Scale program and we continue to stay in touch, offering unwavering support to one another.

The collective wisdom and diverse experiences within this group have been an indispensable resource, offering insights that I might not have considered on my own.  The power of a peer group lies not only in shared experiences but also in the different approaches and solutions that emerge when tackling challenges together.

It creates a supportive environment where you can celebrate victories, navigate setbacks, and gain valuable insights from others who have faced similar struggles.


Thank you Jen for the Interview! We are happy to have you on Board as a Grace Alumna. 


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