Seipati Masango knows what it means to start small. She formulates organic skincare products specifically for black women but built her agri-processing business in Katlehong from where she was using the ingredients in her mother’s kitchen cupboard. The range is specifically developed for black women and targets issues such as the discolouration of plus-size women’s underarms and inner thighs.
Affectionately known as Miss “Gates”, the direct English translation of her surname, Masango was a human resources officer working a high-pressure job in the corporate world. The pressure is what pushed her to quit her job in 2016 while she was still pregnant with her daughter. She decided that building her skincare business and being present for her daughter was more important.
Called Organic Touch by Miss Gates, Masango’s organic skincare line, made with natural oils and butters, features products like body scrubs, butters, facial washes and moisturisers. The agricultural ingredient list includes African black soap, lemon and rooibos.
Food For Mzansi asked Masango to list five tips for people aspiring to enter the skincare business on how to start their enterprises.
Do your research
“When an entrepreneur wants to start manufacturing organic skincare products, they need to be clear on what products [or ingredients] they are sourcing. Are the products that you are sourcing actually good for the skin? There are some products that might be good for the hair but might not be good for the skin. So, you need to do a lot of research in terms of the products you are sourcing.”
Make sure your ingredients are safe
“For all the products that you are sourcing [check the following]: Are your suppliers registered suppliers and do you have a safety sheet for every ingredient that you are receiving from those suppliers? [The safety sheets] are the important things. They are vital… to clinically test your product.”
Study your competition
“You need to familiarise yourself with other skincare brands that are in the same business as you. You don’t have to necessarily copy [them], but just see [how they do] in terms of the product packaging; in terms of the labelling. There are some skincare brands that are registered with organisations that support agricultural sourcing of organic products for skin care. Those are the type of things that you need to look at. Look at your competition and relate your product to your competitor.”
Get your product clinically tested
“You need to know who to test your product with. [For instance,] the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) was my source of testing. It was easier and affordable as well. [Also,] a lot of people downplay the [cost] of organic cosmetics. It can be quite costly.”
Know your market and be transparent about your ingredients
Know your market. With what we’ve seen with millennials, a lot of them are going the organic route and they actually want to know what is in a new product. It’s good to highlight [your ingredients] when selling those products. So, say I’ve got coconut oil. And yes, I do have a lot of shea butter. That can actually draw a lot of clients to your product because you never really know what your customers actually want to see in their products.”
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