Women of colour have long struggled to find products that cater specifically for their skincare needs. For young agripreneur Seipati Masango the solution was no further than her mother’s kitchen cabinets.
Masango manufactures natural handmade skincare products made from natural oils and butters specifically crafted for melanated skin and plus-size women who struggle with discoloration between their thighs and underarms.
Growing up, Masango was fondly known as “Miss Gates”, which is derived from her surname, which directly translates to “gates” in English. She would make her own facial scrubs and body butters to keep her skin moisturized. Noting her glowing skin, her friends suggested that she consider turning this into a business.
She took their advice in 2016, when Organic Touch by Miss Gates was born. Her venture into skincare began when she quit her job as a human resources officer at seven months pregnant.
Masango says the high demands from her corporate job played a vital role in her decision to leave. The new mom dedicated her energy towards raising her daughter and building her skin care enterprise.
“I did my research before I started. Usually I would use products you would find on the shelves, then I started incorporating coconut oil and all those other natural oils into my products. After that I did a lot more research on how these products affect the skin,” she explains.
The Organic Touch by Miss Gates range is comprised of body scrubs, butters, facial washes and moisturizers with agricultural elements ranging from African black soap, lemon, rooibos, coffee and cinnamon.
“It’s all natural because I don’t use any chemicals. I use refined shea butter and tea tree oils. Everything is oil based.”
The young entrepreneur manufactures her products in her mother’s kitchen in Katlehong – a township 35 km outside of Johannesburg. As it stands, she runs her growing business with assistance from her mother – Nkoni Masango.
“We are only going to start looking for people when the company has grown. I hope this year is going to be the year. I am still doing the shipping, I’m still doing the labeling and I’m still doing the marketing,” she says.
Masango hopes to leave a sustainable legacy for her daughter. She says although it is difficult balancing life as a working mom, support from her own mother has made the turbulent journey as an agripreneur smoother.
She adds that there is also a pot of gold at the end of the difficulties of being a female entrepreneur and a single mom. “At the end of the day when you reap the rewards it makes the sacrifices worth it.”
In her five-year journey with Organic Touch by Miss Gates, Masango says she has learned to grow a thick skin for the naysayers who have looked down on her product. Last year her brand acquired accreditation from the Agricultural Research Centre (ARC).
“When you try to sell the product to a client, they will always ask questions like if it is safe to use. When you do sell a product you actually have to explain the product’s benefits. It’s always good to have an interaction with clients so that they can give you constructive feedback,” says Masango.
The beauty mogul in the making advises youth looking to break into the sphere of entrepreneurship to “grab the bull by the horns” and go for it.
Masango believes small-business owners are the backbone of our economy. “Whatever innovative idea you have, you must not ‘sleep’ on it. That is not going to work. It will work as long as you have done research and you have told yourself that this is what you want to do from now on.”
She says her established business is just the beginning of bigger things to come. She recently added the title of MUA (Make-Up Artist) and cosmetic sciences student to her long list of duties.
Skincare is Masango’s bread and butter. She says natural skincare remedies for women of any skin tone are not only limited to the shelves in stores. Your home kitchen is a hub for natural emollient-rich oils that contain ample nourishment for your skin. “Black skin is distinct in characteristics and typically benefits from extra moisture.”
Masango shares her top five tips for maintaining healthy, glowing skin:
- Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Always exfoliate two or three times in a seven-day week!
- SPF (sun protection factor) is your friend no matter what your pigmentation. I used to neglect this as a child and have suffered the aftermath. Always apply SPF whether the sun is shining or not.
- Never, ever in your life sleep with make-up on! Your pillowcase will be a mess and so will your pores.
- Always use a night serum before you sleep at night. It’s always good to feed your skin at night so it can penetrate those skin cells and speed up rejuvenation.
- Stay hydrated!
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