Makeba Lloyd is the Founder of Butter By Keba and Scentonomy, a wellness fragrance conglomerate with a focus on personal care products curated by tech enabled tools. She was born and raised in Harlem by an amazingly kind and gentle single Mom. She enjoys dance, outdoor yoga, hiking and sweet treats.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I grew up with my Mom and Grandparents in Harlem. We lived in a housing development on Broadway and 126th street before my Mom moved us into an apartment in Inwood northern Manhattan. My grandmother was a retired business owner and entrepreneur at heart. My Mom worked in the healthcare field as a medical transcriber for one of the top four hospitals in the United States. She was also very passionate about natural wellness and self-care. My Mom and Grandmother loved people. Whenever I would go out with my Grandmother she would always stop to talk to former customers of her hosiery boutique which was located just a block from our home. It would be an hour before we could get to our neighborhood destination. LOL. And my Mom would always engage people in stores and buses etc.. We lived in a community with a heavy Spanish speaking population so she loved engaging people whose native language was Spanish because it gave her the opportunity to practice her Spanish, which she spoke fluently. My Mom was very intrigued by people from other countries. She took time and care to learn other cultures through the people she encountered daily. I remember our neighbors and good friend Nana growing up, were from Ghana, West Africa and spoke Twi. They would invite us over whenever they had parties and my Mom and I were like sponges soaking up the culture, food, music and warmth. Nana’s mother was so kind to offer my Mom lessons in Twi so that she could communicate at the parties. She really cherished those lessons and practiced regularly. She eventually graduated from her love of African culture to dance and music when she became a percussionist of the Djembe drum. She instilled in me the importance of understanding and accepting people as they are and to connect and learn their culture to do so. We were big Museum and cultural exhibit buffs. I guess that was and still is the beauty of living in New York and the United States. We are exposed to so much of the world. It’s a beautiful thing. Today, as I build a new wellness platform I am learning about healing arts practiced in different regions of the world. There are so many from around the globe who have devoted their lives to healing others through a myriad of ancient and modern healing modalities, such as Ayurveda wellness for the skin and internal system, Chinese Herbalism, Acupuncture, Tai Massage and Khemetic Yoga. I am passionate about growing a platform that makes all of these healing modalities accessible and easy to learn and connect with using aromatherapy as the introduction to the user’s wellness journey.
Tell us something about your organization. What is it about and how is it helpful for people?
By Keba brands are focused on providing products and tech enabled services that promote the world of olfaction from a therapeutic perspective. Our first hero brand, Butter By Keba is a fragrance and personal care line that infuses the art of perfumery with the practice of aromatherapy in plant-based formulation to create daily-use products. We also have a digital aromatherapy platform Scentonomy, which uses a simplified digital tool with data driven algorithm to assist users with identifying a curated aromatherapy essential oil blend based on their input.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
For two years prior to the pandemic, I became a full-time caregiver to my Mom who had been living with cancer for over 8 years but made a conscious decision to manage it without traditional Western Care. Through herbalism, yoga and dietary practices she did her best to manage her illness without me knowing, until I noticed the weight loss. Eventually she succumbed to the illness and had to be temporarily hospitalized. When I was able to bring her home she asked me to commit to continuing her care without Western medical intervention. The challenge with maintaining her care, naturally, was access to natural, holistic and complementary healthcare providers, while managing the deterioration of a terminally ill loved one physically, mentally and emotionally. It was quite difficult. My Mom passed away at the onset of the pandemic. I can remember noticing how many people were being brought in for basic flu like symptoms. She passed away from heart complications in February 2020. Shortly after, I decided to retire from real estate and focus on my brands. It was in late 2021 that I came up with an idea for a tool and platform I needed as a caregiver. I began the journey by applying for LG Nova’s Mission for the Future Grant. In hindsight, my experience as a caregiver and daughter of a healthcare technician, as well as my passion for supporting the wellness, self-care and self-healing movement is what inspires my goals and mission for Scentonomy.
What has been the response of the consumers towards your venture?
We are still in the pre-launch phase of our platform. However, we have participated in a few community focused events where we have released aromatherapy products from our algorithm and the response has been amazing. People really love and connect with natural ingredients that stimulate the olfactory system. We are also steadily growing our wellness community and want to be a source of support for them in the growth and success of their practices. We’re looking forward to ending the year with new alignment and partnerships to bring us into 2023.
How has your life changed because of your venture?
I find that I spend more time at home and have more time for meditation, introspection and self-reflection. It has been necessary to manage my grief from losing my Mom, as well as transitioning from one industry and profession to another. I’ve omitted habits that didn’t serve my growth and adopted ones that support it. I can say I’m a lot more confident than I used to be.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
My wish is for the human experience to have the space and time to heal and unfold to its highest potential.
Give a motivational message for the audience/women who are reading this.
Believe in yourself, your talents and capabilities, even if they are not aligned with what your environment is reflecting back at you. because most likely, you were placed where you are to bring about positive change. Invest energy in the best parts of you.