Career Focus | Chemical company puts safety first

Nontuthuzelo Zingitwa, co-founder of cleaning materials manufacturer called Bold Bald Heads.
Nontuthuzelo Zingitwa, co-founder of cleaning materials manufacturer called Bold Bald Heads.
Image: Supplied.

What do bold bald heads have to do with cleaning chemicals? It’s simple, says Nontuthuzelo Zingitwa, who co-founded cleaning materials manufacturer Bold Bald Heads with Ratshibvumo Muhali Ndou: both founders are bald headed individuals, and both are bold.

Bold enough, in fact, to take on an established product category by introducing a new spin: chemical safety.

This was an issue that had bothered Nontuthuzelo and Muhali since their days working as public servants; Nontuthuzelo at the Department of Water Affairs and Muhali at the Department of Justice.

The two met when Muhali was trying to develop a linen and fabric spray. He was having trouble getting the chemical composition just right, and so Nontuthuzelo called on her background in chemistry to assist.

“We were both driven by the fact that most cleaning products available were of inferior quality,” she recalls.

Muhali, in particular, wanted to see these products done away with so that he could make a difference to the people in his home province of Limpopo.

“Most of the products in Limpopo’s shops hadn’t been tested, and people were often harmed by the damage they caused, but they weren’t offered compensation,” Nontuthuzelo points out. Worse still, they lacked the knowledge to make better choices.

The pair made it their mission to put safety first, supplying and distributing registered chemicals that are compliant with relevant regulations, and equipping consumers with product knowledge so that they could use chemicals safely.

Thus, when they left their jobs in civil service in 2016 to launch Bold Bald Heads, they made sure that every chemical range on offer not only complied with local and international standards, but were also certified kosher and halaal.

Nontuthuzelo explains that Bold Bald Heads primarily targets businesses in industries such as hospitality, healthcare, schools, mortuaries, restaurants, laundromats and auto car washes.

The company offers a full range of cleaning chemicals for bathrooms, kitchens and general housekeeping, automotive, and has recently introduced an environmentally friendly range.

Rather than leaving consumers to make a purchasing choice and then get on with cleaning, Nontuthuzelo and Muhali provide a full demonstration of each product, showing clients how to use them safely.

This is important, says Nontuthuzelo, because, chemical poisoning at times can have an accumulative effect such that damages to the living tissues can be observed over a long period of time.

“Whether the chemical is ingested, inhaled, absorbed or injected through the skin, it usually takes some time for their ill effects to affect the body.

You may only be in your forties or fifties by the time your body feels unwell, and even then, you may not realise that your discomfort has been caused by the way you have been handling your cleaning products.

“We therefore begin every education session with an explanation of how to protect yourself by, for example, wearing gloves when you use chemicals,” she continues.

The sessions also give advice about how to store chemicals correctly so that they remain in peak condition and, perhaps most importantly, how to dispose of them.

People seldom think about this, but it has crucial implications for the environment – which, of course, affects our wellbeing, too.

These elements of the educational sessions are summed up in Bold Bald Heads’ slogan: We clean all mess, freshen your world and ensure chemical safety.

Nontuthuzelo believes that the company’s approach is entirely unique; certainly, engagement at this level is rare – and it’s one of the factors that have helped to set Bold Bald Heads apart.

The company further distinguishes itself by remaining alert to changes in the market’s demands and responding appropriately.

For example, the onset of the Covid pandemic provided an opportunity to focus on a disinfectant range to tackle the Corona virus, and to add Covid-19 PPE to its offering.

The duo shifted their emphasis on education to, pointing out the need to follow hygiene protocols and providing a how-to.

Box: Nontuthuzelo’s safety tips

  • Using chemicals: Wear gloves, closed shoes, goggles and a mask to avoid inhaling chemical fumes.
  • Storing chemicals: Keep cleaning products in a cool environment away from direct sunlight. Do not mix chemicals to make them stronger. This may result in a very toxic solution which emits dangerous fumes that can harm the end-user.
  • Disposing of chemicals: Rather than leaving half-full bottles on a dumping site, have your chemicals removed from your premises by a professional.