A bird’s-eye view into the skin-care industry


UPDATE June 24, 2020:
After launching their new ostrich oil product line under the Power of Ostrich brand, Niagara’s Ostrich Land Ontario, looked again to Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division to develop a digital marketing strategy. The Business & Commercialization team provided research on what social media platforms would provide the best ROI and developed a social media guide. As well, a website review was conducted and recommendations to streamline the site were provided. The industry partner recently launched a new product website: powerofostrich.com. Funding for the recent research was provided by The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NSRC IRAP).

Niagara entrepreneur Yelena Anikeyeva has a long-standing fascination with the world’s largest bird – the ostrich. Their ancient roots, their power, and gracefulness all bolster her passion.

In 2016, she and her husband, Vladimir Panov, decided to sell their home and purchase a farm in West Lincoln to start raising ostriches. The farm – the only one in Ontario and one of only a handful in Canada – now boasts 80 of the flightless birds. 

As the CEO of Ostrich Land Ontario, it is mainly Anikeyeva at the helm, caring for her flock, conducting tours in the warmer months, selling eggs, meat, feathers and her newest venture: Ostrich oil, in its many forms, for both humans and pets.

Wanting to dive deeper into the commercialization of her ostrich oil, Anikeyeva looked to the Business & Commercialization team at Niagara College after hearing about the College’s research capabilities at a business-to-business event.

“I had some ideas about byproducts with ostrich oil and wanted to do specific research into both the beauty and the wellness marketplaces.”

Anikeyeva points to the unique benefits that are derived from ostrich oil, given that it is packed with Omegas 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, all important to our health and beneficial for skin issues, such as wound healing, she says. Through her website and specialty outlets, she sells moisturizers, balms and massage oils.

“It  has a long history; more than 3,000 years ago, Cleopatra and the Egyptians used ostrich oil as part of their beauty regime.”

In looking to expand her product line, it was the flourishing field of cannabidiol (CBD)-enhanced beauty products that Anikeyeva was interested in learning more about.

“It has a long history; more than 3,000 years ago, Cleopatra and the Egyptians used ostrich oil as part of their beauty regime.”

Andrea Lopez, research assistant with the Business & Commercialization team and principal researcher on this project, undertook an extensive market and competitive analysis of this industry, searching trends in both the skincare and wellness industry. 

“As I researched, I learned that CBD is being incorporated into skincare and has become a trend in the beauty industry,” says Lopez, a student with NC’s Bachelor of Business Administration (International Commerce and Global Development) program. “Furthermore, CBD used in skincare products is derived from the hemp plant and has no psychoactive properties.”

Today, many skincare products, such as lotions, facial oils and lip balms, contain CBD, explains Lopez.

While her current recommendation is for Ostrich Land to focus on the CBD-infused beauty products, Lopez did also research the health and wellness trends for CBD, where she found a thriving industry, most notably for pain relief and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Anikeyeva credits the Research & Innovation team for saving her valuable time spent doing research herself.

“It’s very important because I could spend a half a year to do this research on my own and I’m not able to do it right now, so it was very, very helpful.”

Meanwhile, she’s also eager to seek out more research for replacing MCT oil (a common carrier used in CBD oil on the market) with ostrich oil. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble, so taken with an easily-metabolized fat purportedly increases its bioavailability.

Anikeyeva considers ostrich oil a better carrier than MCT oil because it may penetrate the skin deeper, due to its molecular structure, she posits. 

Along with meat, eggs and feathers, Ostrich Land also sells ostrich oil – reportedly packed with Omegas 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids.

“I need to prove and show, scientifically, that the combination of CBD and ostrich oil will give a greater result than combining with MCT oil,” she says, adding she would then be able to tap into the burgeoning CBD oil market. 

As a footnote to her unwavering admiration with the ostrich species, Anikeyeva is also enthusiastic about the powerful immune systems of these venerable birds and is eager to learn more in this area. She’s not the only one. 

Japanese scientists are studying the ostrich’s unique immune system, especially in antibody technology, hoping for breakthroughs to help humans reduce serious health issues. Researchers are looking at the higher quality antibodies produced naturally in ostrich and that can be extracted from the eggs. 

Given their long history – fossil remains suggest the ostrich may have existed for millions of years – some experts believe this evolutionary process has led to their robust immune system. While native to the hot and dry savannas of Africa, ostriches have now evolved to survive the harsh conditions in most locations around the world.

At her farm, Anikeyeva says one ostrich can lay 50 eggs per season. That’s significant given that they also lay the largest eggs of any bird alive – a single egg is equivalent to two dozen chicken (hen) eggs.

The Business & Commercialization team offers a full suite of solutions to assist industry partners. To learn about other success stories, visit the website.