Afrorage is a Windhoek-based, family-owned business, which deals in natural hair treatments and healthy skin support products.
The SME was formed in 2013 and plans to grow to become one of the best natural hair and skin care manufacturers in Namibia.
The company is co-owned by Miriam Kasanda, Sharon Emvula and Dr Naomi Kasanda. The shareholders financed the start-up of the company from their own pockets.
“We offer natural hair (hair without chemical treatments applied) and skin products with organic ingredients. Our hair products can be used by anyone, but are more effective on natural hair and our skin care products can be used by both children and adults,” said Emvula.
She said the owners believe in thorough research before releasing their products onto the market. They put high emphasis on avoiding the dangerous chemicals routinely added to most off-the-shelf mainstream hair and skin care products.
They focus on ingredients with documented positive results (cleaner, stronger, healthier hair and skin) for users and that have no recorded negative medical impact for longer term use. As a result, it can take up to six months before a new product is released.
“We believe in this process because we do not believe in selling something we are not using ourselves. The entire family and some of our extended family use our products, from the smallest children to the adults. We are pleased with the results and would never revert to using other products.”
Talking about how the company was conceptualised, Emvula said the idea started when the founders were looking for products that did not contain powerful chemicals that can be harmful to the hair and health of the user and to the environment. The list of harmful chemicals routinely added to mainstream hair and skin care products and cosmetics is staggering. The ill-health effects of long-term use are well documented, and yet, they continue to be legally and readily used.
Afrorage wanted to avoid products that had coal tar, a carcinogen that can cause lung cancer. The EU recognised the dangers of using coal tar in hair care products and banned it, but many products made in other places, still use coal tar.
Lead is another known carcinogen in hair and skin care products that can cause cancer, and yet some hair care companies continue to use it. It is found in hair dye, as well as lipstick.
Afrorage does not use any products that with parabens. Parabens are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast in cosmetic products, but they possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and can be found in make-up, body washes, deodorants, shampoos and facial cleansers.
Emvula and her partners also shun skin and hair care products with synthetic colours that are derived from petroleum. Synthetic colours are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to attention deficit disorders in children. The EU has banned these too.
The trio of Namibian entrepreneurs feel strongly about avoiding manufactured fragrances and perfumes. Using products with undefined ‘fragrances’ can be hazardous to your health. Undefined fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.
“At one point, each woman in our household had chemically treated hair. We chose to go natural and found that we had a few products to choose from on the market.
“Seeing this market gap and knowing that there is demand for ‘clean’ natural products, we started making our own and used ingredients that would aid in growing our hair. We gradually moved from using store-bought products and started making them ourselves. A number of friends and acquaintances noticed the benefits our products had on us, and the result is where we find ourselves today,” Emvula said.
Emvula said some of the highlights of the company include the launch of new products and partnering with local distributors. She said sales are up and demand is growing.
While the company is still an SME, growth targets each year have been met and surpassed with inquiries about their products coming in from all over the country.
“We currently sell in Windhoek, but we are always on the lookout for distributors all around the country. We sell at Tauben Glen Pharmacy at Pelican Square in Tauben Glen, as well at as Beauty Zone Health and Beauty Spa in Eros. We also have customers in the north, south, as well as at the coast.”
After establishing their brand in the Namibian market and getting their product on the shelves of the South African chain stores that dominate the local retail market, the company plans to expand to other African countries and even beyond, Emvula said.
Find Afrorage on afrorage.com and on Facebook, @Afrorage.
Chemical definitions supported by www.beautyandtips.com - Ed.