Have you ever had an idea for a business, run it by your friend and found that they’d had exactly the same idea? “That’s how Temple began,” says founder Raphael Babalola (pictured above right).

Together with his friend Adam Hutchinson (pictured above left), Raphael makes skincare products for men of colour. They launched Temple in 2021, after spending a year working with dermatologists and manufacturers to develop products designed for Black, Asian and Mixed Race men.

“We started by trying to understand the issues that men of colour wanted to address,” says Raphael. “The things that came up time and time again were razor bumps and ingrown hairs, which affects about 85% of men with curly hair, acne, dryness and hyperpigmentation, which is where you have uneven skin tone. We then spoke to experts on how we could address these issues using natural ingredients.”

Key ingredients in their cleanser, moisturiser and toner include rosehip oil, aloe vera and avocado oil. Most products are bottled in glass. “We really increased our knowledge of the formulations that are good for us, as men with melanin-rich skin.”

Skincare brand Temple makes products for men of colour

Temple products are sold online and by selected retailers. Adam and Raphael, both 31, are based in London and bank with Starling. Temple is funded by two grants and a £145k investment, secured in April 2022. One grant was awarded through the Experian Entrepreneur Challenge and the other through a competition run by the organisations PayPal and Kwanda.

Choosing a name

“When you think of the word ’temple’, you probably think of a holy place or a place you approach with respect where you have a sense of reverence for it,” says Raphael. “We want you to have the same respect and reverence for your body.”

He adds: “We’ve started with skincare but we eventually want to move into hair care products, shower gel and supplements for better sleep or energy. We want it to be a whole body experience.”

The founders also plan to address mental health. “When you point to your temple, you point to the side of your head, as if you’re pointing to your mind. So the name also brings in the message of looking after your mental health.”

Adam and Raphael are keen to normalise conversation about self-care in their community. “We want to speak to our audience, which is how we landed on the message ’Self-care for the Mandem’. We needed to boldly combine our culture with the idea of personal care in a way that made people say, ’I get it. That resonates with me.’”

For every sale, Temple donates a portion to an organisation that supports healthcare, education and entrepreneurial projects across Africa and in the UK.

Choosing a mentor

“I knew that I wanted to have someone on board who had gone through the journey, from creation, scale and even up to the point of being acquired,” says Raphael.

Through fellow Starling business customer Jamelia Donaldson, founder of the haircare brand Treasure Tress, he was introduced to Simon Duffy, founder of the skincare brand Bulldog. Simon has become a mentor for Raphael and Adam.

“He’s been able to share insights from Bulldog’s scale-up journey, make introductions, and help shape our fundraising strategy. He’s added a real layer of confidence to what we’re doing.”

Choosing a bank

The founders chose Starling for their business banking after receiving multiple recommendations from fellow Black founders.

“I like knowing where our money is going,” says Raphael. Every time money moves in or out of their Starling account, both founders receive an instant notification. “It means we can quickly catch something that we’re overpaying on or want to cancel or amend.”

He adds: “I’ve found the experience of the app really secure. It gives me peace of mind. It’s made it really easy for us to keep on top of where our finances are.”

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