The world is becoming much more attuned to the health and wellbeing benefits of natural ingredients that are harnessed from the local environment and transformed into world-class products. With her proudly African brand, Harvest of Sunshine, Kenyan entrepreneur Mumbi Muturi-Muli is embracing the best of the continent’s raw materials and creating a company that puts local and natural at the heart of its ethos.
LoA found out more about this proudly African brand and its vision for the future.
What does your company do?
We create hair and body products with butters and oils from the trees and bushes that grow under our African sun. They are all water based because our skin and hair needs moisture as well as the nourishment that comes from the butters and oils.
"We create hair and body products with butters and oils from the trees and bushes that grow under our African sun."
What inspired you to start your company?
I had a whole family of naturals and I am a DIY person, so it started from there. I was driven by the natural hair movement that was also driving our need to use 'good' ingredients on our bodies, in our bodies and on our hair. I was already making my own soaps, whipping up butters and oils, these were used in my home and the homes of my friends and extended family. I wanted to have water-based creams so I began researching and I am still researching ingredients. I wanted to have access to good products that were available locally and I found more and more people like me, so I decided to start selling the products and that was the beginning of Harvest of Sunshine. I spent many years growing up on a farm, watching my mother planting and harvesting so much of what would end up on our plates, and I realised that all of it was driven by the sun and that is where the name of the company comes from. The baobab and shea trees, the yangu tree with its pink flowers, the avocados that hang from the trees that we love to eat, this is all the African Harvest.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
This is a tough question! I use and love the products from Harvest of Sunshine, and I have four children and they all use the products because I know that they are good products. I have researched the preservative that has to be used because these are water based creams and lotions, and I know that I am using the least harmful ingredients that I can. I create and formulate with the idea of giving the customer a product that does what it says and is not just giving lip service to the idea that they are created with love and sunshine.
"I was driven by the natural hair movement that was also driving our need to use 'good' ingredients on our bodies, in our bodies, and on our hair."
Tell us a little about your team
Wambui JL is a creative mind who oversees the Creative and Marketing aspects of Harvest of Sunshine. She brings to Harvest of Sunshine an attention to detail. She also assists the team to brainstorm new ideas for future products and marketing concepts.
Martha Osier has a financial background, with an MBA from Harvard Business School and brings her wealth of knowledge about creating a solid financial structure for Harvest of Sunshine. She keeps Wambui and I on the straight and narrow - as creatives we tend to throw caution to the wind and this is not always a good idea, Martha is invaluable in directing us and giving solid advice as we move forward.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I started a little cake business four years ago. I was a stay at home mom and loved to cook and bake, so I began a Facebook page. I really had no idea what I was doing other than baking cakes and that was a journey that taught me how to decorate and create. I had to learn how to cost and price, to keep stock, to research lots of techniques so that I could give my customers the best tasting cakes that also looked good. So when I decided to start whipping up butters and oils, I had all the equipment that I needed. I had no experience in running any kind of company and I think that was a good thing as it allowed the business to grow in the direction it needed to.
"I wanted to have access to good products that were available locally and I found more and more people like me, so I decided to start selling the products and that was the beginning of Harvest of Sunshine."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
We would love to move out of Nairobi and out of Kenya to become an African brand. We plan to support the organic growth of the company adding more products as the need arises, especially a facial care line. I feel very strongly that the customer will dictate to us where we need to go and how we need to grow - the world is changing so rapidly that we will need to be flexible, but my hope is that we will be an African brand in the next 5 years.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
A happy customer - getting a text, email or call from someone who loves the products as much as you do is wonderful! I believe that is why we do what we do, and when someone understands this, it is perfect and worth all the long days and late nights working.
"The baobab and shea trees, the yangu tree with its pink flowers, the avocados that hang from the trees that we love to eat, this is all the African Harvest."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Just start! Small, big or in-between, that does not matter at all, what matters the most is that first step out into the unknown.
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Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love those women entrepreneurs that have a genuine passion for, and are inspired by, unique local source materials that are proudly harvested and transformed into world-class products. Harvest of Sunshine is a beautifully apt name for a company and brand that celebrates and harnesses the unique wellbeing ingredients found on the African continent, and founder Mumbi Muturi-Muli is winning over global fans of her products in the process. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa