By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
Nandi Tonge-Gabremedhin, owner of Efua’s Baby, is proof that a venture can be socially conscious, have a purpose and be a profitable business. Efua’s Baby offers handmade candles, body butters and soaps made with 100 percent natural ingredients like soy and coconut oil. But it’s the 41-year-old entrepreneur’s story that is the driving force behind the company.
The shop was inspired by Tonge-Gabremedhin’s mother, Efua Sauda Tonge, who died of breast cancer in 1990.
Nandi Tonge-Gabremedhin, owner of Efua’s Baby, which offers handmade candles, body butters and soaps. (Courtesy Photo)
“I lost my mom when i was 12,” Tonge-Gabremedhin told the AFRO. “She was such a beautiful and big spirited mother, connected to so many people in her family and the community and made such an impact on individuals. And when I lost her she was like a god to me. We had such a close relationship and it was quite devastating for us all.”
Tonge-Gabremedhin was raised in Teaneck, N.J. and Harlem. However she always had strong ties with D.C., eventually moving here and attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts and after Howard University.
While growing up, Tonge-Gabremedhin said her parents were Pan-Africanists and instilled a sense of history, and encouraged travel from an early age.
“My mother and my father provided such great experiences really connecting us to the continent,” Tonge-Gabremedhin said. “We were really infused in the movement.”
Like her mother, Tonge-Gabremedhin had four children with husband Haile Gabremedhin, owner of the HVAC company, STM Services. She worked in D.C. Public Schools, was a homemaker for a while and also worked in the restaurant industry.
It wasn’t until her godsister invited Tonge-Gabremedhin on a trip to Cuba in 2015 that her entrepreneurial journey started. She was also on a spiritual journey and had a reading while there. Tonge-Gabremedhin said she was encouraged to burn candles for her mother and grandmother on a daily basis, to honor them. “I took that to heart,” she said.
Tonge-Gabremedhin returned home and began reading articles about candles and learned how parridin candles are toxic to the environment. She decided to look for more natural-based candles. The search was hard and expensive. She decided to make candles for herself. She enjoyed the experience and a business was born.
“The idea of creating this candle company just rushed to me,” I should do this candle company in honor of my mom.”
Since that time Efua’s Baby has hosted several pop-up shops, sells their products in Ghana, and has a robust online shop. In addition, Efua’s Baby has enjoyed immense success during the “Black Love Experience” event over the years.
“I totally love and support Anika Hobbs, and Nubian Hueman and all the people that are Nubian Hueman, and what goes into what they do and put into the Black Love Experience,” Tonge-Gabremedhin said. “I’m happy that i was able to be a vendor for the third time.”
The entrepreneur is gestating on new ideas for the store, like what she did with her body butters, which have begun to gain in popularity as well. For more information about the store and the owner go to #efuasbaby or visit https://www.efuasbaby.com.