With the world looking to source more sustainable, ethically produced and renewable sources of foodstuffs, one South African business venture, Oryx Desert Salt, founded by entrepreneur Samantha Skyring, is looking to bring an exceptional source of salt to enrich both the flavour of food and also promote good health.
LoA spoke to Samantha Skyring to find out more….
What does your company do?
Oryx Desert Salt supplies a natural, crystal-white salt from the Kalahari – unrefined, sun-dried, and free from additives and preservatives. This salt contains the essential, natural minerals and trace elements, in the correct balance, for your body to absorb and utilise for optimal functioning, vitality and health. It is harvested in a sustainable manner from a remote and pristine area of the vast Kalahari Desert in South Africa. Here, salt water from an ancient underground lake, fed by subterranean streams, is laid to rest on a pan, sun-dried and harvested. Oryx Desert Salt is committed to supplying an ethically harvested, sustainable and renewable desert salt that has an exceptional taste, and enriches the flavour of your food.
"Oryx Desert Salt supplies a natural, crystal-white salt from the Kalahari – unrefined, sun-dried, and free from additives and preservatives. This salt contains the essential, natural minerals and trace elements, in the correct balance, for your body to absorb and utilise for optimal functioning, vitality and health."
What inspired you to start your company?
I was supporting my husband to import the salt from South Africa to Denmark, but things ended and I came home with my 3 year old son and started Oryx Desert Salt to support my son and myself. This beautiful healthy, unrefined unprocessed salt wasn't available in South Africa either. The inspiration for the name was a 120km, one week walk through the Namib Desert in 2000 when I had several close encounters with the Oryx, so they became my symbol of my Kalahari experience. I discovered after choosing the name that they can apparently go up to 2 years without drinking water but not 2 months without licking salt - which is essential to their survival in the harsh conditions of the heat and desert.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Oryx Desert Salt is pure crystal white natural desert salt. Unrefined, unprocessed with minerals and trace elements which are recognised, easily absorbed by the body and essential for optimal health. Oryx Desert Salt is totally free from any additives, anti-caking or free flow chemicals. The source of the salt is an ancient underground salt lake, which is replenished by underground rivers, and is therefore renewable and sustainable. The rock strata that the rivers run through, have been geoscientifically tested at 250-300 million years old, ancient, pure, pristine and unpolluted. Oryx Desert Salt has a very gentle and full flavour which is loved by local and international chefs. Our grinders have a ceramic grinder head so the large grinders are up to 10 x refillable, which minimises continuous bottles and grinder heads being thrown away and having to be recycled. The logo is printed directly on the bottle, so the bottles can we be wiped and kept clean, which is far more hygienic than the bottles with labels which peel and collect dirt and end up looking unpleasant too. We believe in giving back, and donate a percentage of all products sold to TFPD foundation in support of the Kalahari San & Mier communities in the Kalahari.
"The inspiration for the name was a 120km, one week walk through the Namib Desert in 2000 when I had several close encounters with the Oryx, so they became my symbol of my Kalahari experience."
Tell us a little about your team
SAMANTHA SKYRING - CEO
Samantha brings diverse experience from her entrepreneurial career from Aircraft Interior Refurbishment to discovering Mumbo Island on Lake Malawi whilst on a kayaking expedition and starting Kayak Africa. As well as extensive travel and adventure, includingher 5 month journey in Namibia which included a 120km walk through the Namib desert from where the Oryx brand originated. 20 000 Drums NPO ‘Transformation through Celebration’ followed, implementing traditional African workshops and training in rural communities across South Africa. Her Desert Salt adventure started by packing bags on her dining room table. She has an 8 year old son Kiran.
SHAFIEK LAKAY - Administrator
Shafiek started working at the age of 18 and a first job with Pick ‘n Pay as a till packer, two years later working in the IT department as a support tech. Shafiek supported stores with all of their technical and hardware problems, and eight years later was promoted to a new division of PnP which was developing new software, being part of the test and roll out team. It involved a lot of travelling and training with staff nationally. Leaving PnP in 2000 and going into a new field in the textiles industry, Shafiek started from the bottom as an ironer then into the despatch department and within a year became part of senior management, responsible for debtors, creditors, invoicing, store targets, stock takes and despatching of customer orders. Hip Hop Factory liquidated in 2013 and Shafiek joined Oryx Desert Salt in October 2013.
IAN SOLOMON, BCOM CA (SA) - Director
Ian is joint CEO of Evolve Capital*, a business started with his brother Garth in 2013. Ian is also CEO of Moja Media, one of the leading tourism marketing businesses in SA. Amongst others, Moja Media owns the well-known brand, Portfolio Collection. Ian is a qualified chartered accountant, who brings 17 years of entrepreneurial experience in running and growing businesses. He has been involved in entrepreneurship facilitation since 2005, working both with larger groups and one-on-one, mostly with the common theme of how to grow a one-person business into a larger, thriving entity.
GARTH SOLOMON - Director (alt)
Garth is joint CEO of Evolve Capital* and prior to starting Evolve Capital, he was head of Old Mutual Private Equity and a member of a successful team for 10 years. Over this time this team developed a strong track record, invested in 23 transactions and exited 15, including landmark private equity deals such as PEP and Life Healthcare. Garth is currently a board member and chairs the investment committee of Life Healthcare, an Alsi 40 listed company and has been a member of this board for over 9 years. He has also served on the boards and committees of Metro Cash & Carry, Air Liquid, Tourvest and Libstar. Prior to joining OMPE Garth was a founder member of African Harvest, a listed financial services company, where he was a member of their private equity and corporate finance teams.
*Evolve Capital acquired 50% of Oryx Desert Salt in December 2013. Evolve invests in start up, small and medium sized companies through a combination of equity, debt, intellectual and strategic capital. Evolve’s primary intention is to partner with a long term view, to help build and grow sustainable, ethical businesses that add value, create jobs and extend across generations.
JACKIE NUNN - Operations & Sales Manager
"We believe in giving back, and donate a percentage of all products sold to TFPD foundation in support of the Kalahari San & Mier communities in the Kalahari."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
Yes, my whole working life has been a journey of entrepreneurship, from 13 years old doing newspaper deliveries and working in the bakery of a local supermarket. Waitressing after school to earn funds to travel, then getting into business with my dad doing interior refurbishment of aircraft. Whilst on holiday in Malawi on a kayaking expedition we discovered Mumbo Island and decided to quit life in the city and start a business giving travellers a taste of this beautiful island. Afterwards I started a beach bar restaurant with friends also in Malawi. I travelled to the Uk for a year then returned to South Africa and did production management for fashion catalogues. Travelled for another year then returned to South Africa and did volunteer work in Orange Farm Township, teaching permaculture, Kombucha and sprouting for health. I was assistant manager to a community development project and afterwards started my own NGO re-introducing drumming into rural schools with a mentorship training program and distribution of drums. Over 7 years reaching 30,000 children and distributing +- 15000 recycled drums. I also developed the ABSA early child development national roadshow project.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My vision and plan is to grow a global brand and offer Oryx Desert Salt worldwide. We're in 16 countries so far.
#EntrepreneurAdvice: "My personal development and learning journey are part of growing the business."
- Samantha Skyring, founder @oryxsalt
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being able to take my son on school outings and not needing to ask permission.
Taking time off when I really need it. Being my own boss - even though I work myself incredibly hard. Seeing my business grow. My personal development and learning journey are part of growing the business. The vision and goal of having financial freedom to take my son on adventures and overseas travels.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
I would so advise having a business mentor and constant learning of how to do things in business from other business leaders.
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Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love those entrepreneurial stories that not only celebrate women who are building great brands and business using proudly African ingredients and inspiration, but also those who who have a big vision and the will and drive to make it a reality. Samantha Skyring is one of those entrepreneurs and her vision of building a global brand for Oryx Desert Salt and making it a brand of choice for chefs and connoisseurs alike, looks set to become a reality. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa