Isaac Kusi, Krismark shea butter and palm oil lotion innovator
Olayemi Odesanya | 12/7/2017, 3:15 p.m.
Born and raised in Ashanti, Ghana, Isaac Kusi is the founder and CEO of Krismark in the Bronx. He is a purveyor of sophisticated, smooth shea butter and palm oil lotions. You can have sandalwood, lavender or patchouli from Krismark cosmetics. Kusi started the company in 1988 and only imported the ingredients from Europe. Less than a decade later, Krismark had its own manufacturing unit in Woodridge, N.Y.
Kusi named his line after his mother, who was also in the cosmetics business. “I thought it would be an honor to name my cosmetic line after her,” Kusi told the Amsterdam News. “She loved it when I told her! When I was growing up, I remember seeing that ambition my mother had to sell her products.”
Kusi felt obligated to continue the business because his siblings were not interested in following in their mother’s footsteps. “I also felt that Black-owned business were also needed in our communities,” he said. “In the late 1900s, there weren’t a lot of Black business owners, and it was well-needed in our community. Having our own businesses will to help us flourish and unify.”
Krismark is based in the Bronx but has distributors all over the city. They are found in the Cosmetics Center, Ricky’s NYC, Cambridge Chemists, African hair salons and pharmacies.
“I always receive great comments about my products,” said Kusi. “From the hairdressers to students, I never received a complaint.”
About the lavender, patchouli and sandalwood scents of his products, Kusi said, “I don’t have a favorite. They all have something unique about themselves.”
He added, “What makes my products different from others is the use of red palm oil and shea butter. Just not too long along, using shea butter for skin care products wasn’t a big thing, and now shea butter is very common in the Black community. And you see it in mainstream products, too, now. I feel like red palm oil will be the next big thing.”
Red palm oil is well-known for its high amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, vitamins and antioxidants. Red palm oil is commonly used in West Africa. Kusi also uses potent essential oils and beneficial raw materials from the African continent.
Kusi draws heavily on his upbringing in Ghana and the cultural influences of Ghana. He came to the states in 1980 after he finished high school. He had some marketing training and worked in several banks.
“I came to the U.S. because I wanted the American dream,” he said. “I wanted to have better work opportunities and a better life for my children.”
Kusi currently has three children, who worked with him before venturing out on their own. “My children were … my best employees I had for this company, but because they branched out into different career paths, they are unable to be as available.”
He intends to expand his business and educate costumers and the community on the benefits of shea butter and palm oil. “If I had to give any advice for aspiring business owners, I would tell them to build a great online network,” he said. “Everything is online and it’s [the] best way to expand your business.”
For more information, visit https://www.krismark.com/.