Earlier this year investor Manuel Koser, co-founder and managing director of Silvertree Internet Holdings, told Business Insider that entrepreneurs looking for an exciting new product should consider ethical and healthy alternatives, as South African consumers are increasingly drawn to these goods.
Among the products he named are ethical snacks, African haircare products, indigenous personal care products and natural home cleaners.
We spoke to business owners who have already made their mark in these industries, and they shared their expert experience, tips and insights with us.
Managing director of Nanuki, Nadia Moolman, shared that in her experience the market is currently hungry for new and exciting ethical products.
“So it’s not hard to break in to the market if you are unique and offer something special, but it does take time, perseverance and dedication to get your product on shelves,” she said.
Nadia says healthy junk food is the next big thing in this industry.
“Changing the traditional ‘bad foods’ into healthier, ethical alternatives,” she says, and using “biodegradable packaging, vegan alternatives and nutritious whole ingredients are trends that are here to stay.”
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Catherine Phillips, founder of The Vegan Kitchen, started her business when she found there was a need for vegan snacks and meals as there were not many available in stores.
Seven years later she says people are still sceptical about vegan foods, but that she is seeing more public interest recently. She shares that perseverance and persistence got her to where she is today, and that others wanting to start out in this industry must be sure of their products.
“I've seen the Beyond Meat burger getting a lot of hype since launching locally, so I think more meat alternatives are going to be popular in the years ahead,” Catherine told us.
Twenty-eight-year old beauty therapist, Rejoyce Tirivepi, co-founded the Beauty Addicts Studio and Mobile Spa in 2018.
She told W24 it's not hard to break into the market. “The demand is very high as almost every third woman now is going the natural route,” she explained.
“Natural African hair is very special, it might look tough, but it is very delicate, and it needs special care, and special products to nourish and maintain it,” she says.
Products pegged to be popular in the years ahead include styling edge gels, holding glues, styling foam, Jamaican castor oil and coconut infused products she revealed.
Rejoyce advises entrepreneurs to take the risk. “Just start your own entrepreneurial journey, it's not all rosy, but it's so worth it.”
Tofunmi Olagoke, founder of Owulo, told us that with funding it’s easy to get started in African haircare. “It’s a new industry and women are transitioning into natural hair right now, so customers are receptive to African hair care products that work for them” she said.
“The main thing I’ve learned is resilience. It’s cliched, but sometimes when you don’t have everything in place, there’s a very high learning curve. If you keep poking at the problem, at some point you will get your win,” she shared with us.
Tofunmi believes that the company that creates products that suit all women and all hair types is the one that will do best in the years ahead. “As much as the texture of our hair is different, it’s made out of the same thing,” she says, “so there’s no reason why one company shouldn’t be able to meet the needs of all women and end this ridiculousness of having different hair product aisles for different women.”
Natural home cleaning products
Puresimple founder Sandra Williams says learning the craft takes time, money and plenty of patience. “There is a huge amount of competition in the industry and starting a micro business where you hand make what you sell is time consuming, and the outlay costs are high,” she told W24.
The next big thing in natural home cleaners is waste free, plastic free, minimal packaging, she says, and products made with natural ingredients or with minimal man-made ingredients.
To succeed, Sandra advises entrepreneurs to start small, and slow.
“Set a budget. Be patient. This is not an easy ‘get rich quick’ business. Get some experience making your products before you try to start selling.”
Romy Levy, co-owner of SoPure agrees.
“It is difficult to enter any manufacturing marketing – we’ve been in the business for almost 15 years,” she shared with us, “and are still formulating, trialling, learning and growing.”
“Over the years, we realised that South Africans use products that they’re used to, and education was key in building consumer understanding of allergies, the benefits of plant-based cleaning, and the dangers of chemicals in cleaning products.”
Romy’s number one tip for young entrepreneurs is to have perseverance.
“Brands don’t develop overnight,” she says, “gaining trust is the best form of marketing: ensure you have a brand that has integrity and is sustainable.”
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Personal care products Earth & Kin Co-Founder, Andrea Barras, shared that in her experience it's never difficult to get a new product off the ground, especially “if you are offering something unique, effective and something that has been professionally branded and packaged.”
“People underestimate the power of good design,” she revealed, “it's not enough to have a lovely product, the way it's presented needs to evoke trust too.”
Andrea laughed when we asked her what she thinks will be the next most popular product.
“If only we could all predict the future on that one! One thing I know for sure, the trend to 'return to nature', the focus on slow living and supporting local - that's all going to grow and get stronger as people open their eyes more to environmental and sustainability issues.”
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