Shereen Makhanye a natural in beauty field
What started as a haircare range in response to an inability to find good local, natural haircare products, has blossomed into a thriving business that caters for the body as well.
Nubian Nature was started in 2013 by Shereen Makhanye and a partner.
Though they parted ways later, Makhanye clung to the dream and now offers 15 products, including a men's range that consists of beard grooming products.
The skincare range, for all skin types, has luxurious avocado and moringa body scrubs, as well as lotions. The haircare range features haircare oil, detangling milk and citrus-infused conditioners, among others.
The Soweto-born entrepreneur says going into business was not something she'd actively sought.
"Although this journey found me, I must say it's put me on my path. My work is in science, and having loved science in high school, my work feels like a return home for me," she says.
Her endeavour was not without financial challenges, while it was also a struggle to gain consumer confidence and access the industry.
"As Africans you find when you go into entrepreneurship you're the first one and you have to sort of figure out where you get the funds. Financing was the hardest," she explains.
Her body care products, which I've tried after finding her stall at a market a couple of years ago, leave the body moisturised and feeling silky smooth.
They come packaged in a milk white tub or bottle, with a slash of cool green across the wording.
The beard kit is steel grey with a splash of burgundy that adds colour. The prices range from R60 for the shampoo to R100 each for the body lotion (230ml) and the body scrub (250ml). The beard kit is R400.
"For me it's important that the normal person can afford luxury without breaking the bank," she says.
Her products can be found online and in salons where Makhanye regularly exhibits her range. She's also done activations for her brand internationally and on the continent, visiting countries such as Australia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Dubai.
"In Morocco, the body range did well but not so much the beard range. In Australia, it's a completely different market, natural hair is sort of a growing trend over there.
"We were able to invite natural hair influencers to come and see the brand and learn if there is a market for us in Australia because it is a very cold market," she explains.
Makhanye says due to the research gathered during her global exhibits, there's a possibility to grow her haircare range to include Caucasian hair.
With her plans to expand into various markets, Makhanye is angling for the brand to be 'green certified' .
She stresses that the brand is already there, but the finances to get the all-important stamp are scarce.
"Our raw materials come from the African continent. We look at the bio-degradabilty of the product and its toxicity. So the brand is green from the supply chain to the packaging, which is recyclable."
Makhanye says consumers are not clued up when it comes to choosing natural products, allowing unethical retailers to exploit them.
She adds that entrepreneurs ought to do more to educate consumers, and that she would like to see more independent brands on store shelves in the country.
"We've got the capability and enough products to fill the shelves. And I think it will be also good for our economy as well."
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