Sweat bears township men's perfume

Valentinas Kafungo owner Vusumuzi Methula plans to register the brand before year-end. He is seen here designing the unique wood container for his perfume.
Valentinas Kafungo owner Vusumuzi Methula plans to register the brand before year-end. He is seen here designing the unique wood container for his perfume.
Image: Thuso Magano

It has taken innovation entrepreneur Vusumuzi Methula five years of trial and error, coupled with research to perfect his perfume formula, leading to his final product called Valentinas Kafungo.

Inspired by his mother, Mpho, who was a door-to-door seller of ready-made perfumes, the young Vusi was inquisitive. He wanted to know how the end product came about and wanted to "do it myself".

After his research on the chemical mixing of oil bases and alcohol to come up with different scents, the Tsakane, Brakpan-based Methula, 27, completed and developed his first scent last year.

"I wanted to create a premium cologne brand that lives beyond our time, do everything from scratch and mainly establish a fragrance that will be appreciated at home, in Africa and eventually make an impact in the world market," he said.

"After satisfying myself that I had the right formula, I came up with the first cologne for men's range, combining Valentinas, my middle name and Kafungo, a Malawian word meaning scent, from the Chichewa or Yanja languages.

He describes Kafungo as a name that not only speaks to South Africans but to Africa, insisting that he grappled with a number of names but eventually settled for "scent" as he was also targeting the African market.

He explained to the Sunday World team visiting him at his premises at the Tsakane Business Park's Fab Lab how he develops the desired scents.

"I mix the essential raw oils in a small container and put the mixture away in a dark place for a period of three weeks. Thereafter I combine the mixture with the required amount of 100% alcohol, put it away for another two weeks to mature and 'communicate' with one another to give me the end product."

The oils and alcohol he uses are clinically tested to ensure that they are not sensitive to the skin and eyes, while being user-friendly to people suffering from asthma or sinuses.

His innovative ideas saw him getting the nearby primary school giving him the go-ahead to use the school's laboratory as his lab to carry out his mixing experiments.

Methula also took the Sunday World team to the Ekurhuleni municipality small business project premises in Duduza, where he manufactures the distinctive perfume containers made from wood.

"We use a US-imported machine called epilog laser that emits special 'fire' to engrave the wood in order to come up with the desired drawing. I digitally draw the design and send the message through a computer.

"The drawing is called a 'corel', mainly used to mark packaging containers."

As Methula is still working on the women's range, the men's cologne is called "Minenhle For Him".

He described the background behind the name.

"It is my journey from where I started to the day I brought the cologne to the market. It's all about the challenges I've faced along the way, all become a bright day."

Methula is looking forward to registering the perfume range as a signature brand with the SA Bureau of Standards before the end of the year.

Although there are currently no walk-in stores where he sells directly to the public, Methula said purchases are made online.

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