Africa's beauty and wellness sector continues to grow, with new and exciting products coming onto the market every day, most of them celebrating the unique, natural ingredients that are produced on the African continent. This month at Lionesses of Africa, we celebrate 30 women entrepreneurs whose remarkable startup stories we have featured over the past year and who are building great brands and developing world class products from all corners of the African continent.
Leading the pack is Tara Fela-Durotoye, founder of House of Tara in Nigeria. She is a wonderful example of how to build a proudly African brand that prides itself on its world-class approach to products and services, and one that is now set to really take itself to the next level globally. Tara is a great example for other African women brand builders to follow. Read more about Tara and the 30 women entrepreneurs from this exciting business sector who are making the world sit up and take notice with their great beauty and wellness brands and products.
Tara Fela-Durotoye is a Nigerian-born lawyer turned Africa's leading beauty and makeup entrepreneur. She started House of Tara at the age of 20, from her living room, whilst an undergraduate at university back in 1998. She's since gone on to launch Nigeria's first ever bridal directory in 1999, and in 2004 she opened the country's leading beauty academy. Today, Tara has over 10,000 reps spread across Nigeria and 14 stores to her name and she is steadfastly dedicated to realising her vision of building a globally respected beauty company of African origin. Tara remains an inspirational role-model and mentor to make-up artists and aspiring beauty business owners across Africa. In 2013, Tara was nominated as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was also named one of Forbe's '20 Young Power African Women'.
Meet 30 incredibly talented beauty and wellness entrepreneurs we've been privileged to feature over this past year....
For all those who love the experience of visiting a spa for some much needed pampering, you know how important it is to have the best quality, specialist products and treatments. For one entrepreneur in South Africa, Shantelle Booysen, founder of Elim Spa Products, she saw this as an opportunity to build a successful global business creating world class products for the spa industry.
For many people, maintaining healthy hair and scalps can be a challenge, particularly for those trying to avoid products that use harsh chemicals. And that’s where Kehinde Falade and her company, Osteena Range of Cosmetics, come to the rescue, using organic natural ingredients to encourage new and healthy hair growth for clients.
There is a huge trend in the global beauty, bath and body products industry to get back to nature to source the finest ingredients and essential oils, and Botswana has a wealth of these ingredients. For entrepreneur Mishingo Aaron, founder of Naga Earth, the abundance of nature’s healing and restorative ingredients was the inspiration for the launch of her new business.
They say in business that if you find a pain-point in the marketplace and one that is not being adequately serviced, then you have the basis of a business opportunity. For entrepreneur Christine Wanjiru, founder of Ayari Ani Cosmetics in Kenya, that pain-point came in the form of not being able to find quality, hand-made, organic cosmetics to alleviate certain skin conditions and needs.
For many people, dealing with challenging skin conditions can be confidence sapping and daunting. But for Dr Levashni Naidoo (or Dr Lev as she is fondly known) and her dedicated team at The Dermatology Room in South Africa, their inspiration is provide effective and life enhancing solutions.
The world is waking up to the natural benefits of Moringa, and for Mkamboi Mwakale, founder of Saru Organics, it was the inspiration for the launch of a new passion-driven business. Today, the business is not only winning legions of consumers, but it is also making a big difference to the lives of those growing this wonderful plant.
Everyone wants to look and feel good, and also to boost their confidence, and in Mozambique, one woman entrepreneur is on a mission to help her clients achieve all of these goals. Zeinab Abdallah, founder of Qimari Estética, is creating a world-class service in a relaxing environment in the heart of Maputo, providing the opportunity for clients to find those precious Zen moments.
Who doesn’t love a relaxing spa experience, but creating that perfect environment with the right atmosphere and products is key to the success of any luxury spa business. That’s where Jacoline Wentzel’s expertise at The Spa Warehouse comes in, providing specialist experience, advice and luxury products to spas across the African continent.
Many women in Mozambique find it a challenge to care for their naturally curly hair and keep it in good condition. But Christella Kirezi, founder of Moz Crespas, has the natural solution and is building up a business with a reputation for providing beautifully natural haircare for her customers.
We have all probably heard the phrase ‘put a little colour in your life’, but entrepreneur Lien Potgieter is doing just that in the practical sense with her business, The Colour Option. She has created a range of online colour therapy courses specially for women who want to live a full, authentic life in relationships, business, and creativity.
As many successful entrepreneurs will tell you, achieving that success is often down to confidence, and lots of it, but for many women entrepreneurs, confidence doesn’t always come naturally. But South African entrepreneur, Janine Starkey, founder of image consultancy House of Janine, is about to change all that.
For all those who experience the challenges of sensitive skin, hope is at hand from Botanical Wares (Pty) Ltd, a Lesotho woman-owned company inspired by its founders who needed to find a skincare and cosmetics solution for themselves and their families.
From transforming actors in television and film studios to fulfill their onscreen roles, to styling models for the fashion runways, leading professional makeup and hair artist, Daisy Mogne, has certainly perfected her craft. Today, her own Studio Daisy Mogne, is building a wonderful reputation for transforming and preparing clients for their special days, from weddings and special occasions, to those who work in front of the camera each day.
Many entrepreneurs are driven not only by passion, but also a desire to make a difference, particularly when it comes to creating employment opportunities in local communities. In the case of the Kenyan natural soap manufacturing company, Wipedo Ltd, its three women founders are not only creating world class natural soap products, but also creating employment for others, extending the value chain of this unique and proudly Kenyan brand.
In Africa, the health and wellness industry is a growing business sector, but in Malawi there was a definite gap for a luxury wellness spa brand in the market. Belle Afrique, the entrepreneurial brainchild of Lee Chisale, is filling that gap with a world class brand and product offering.
For many people, staying fit and healthy is a real challenge and often requires a combination of specialist help, advice and access to resources, to make those essential healthy living choices. Iris Management, the business venture of health and wellbeing entrepreneur, Phanice Shamalla, is working hard to change mindsets and make it easier for people to think and live healthier lives.
For all those people looking to have a gentler footprint on the earth and interested in using all natural body and skincare products that will not harm the environment, a new champion has emerged. South African entrepreneur, Marlese Wallis, founder of Mies Body Products, is taking a greener approach to creating a great eco-brand that is good for your skin and the environment.
For many women entrepreneurs in Africa, the inspiration for launching a new business, product or brand comes from trying to find a solution to a challenge or addressing the lack of a particular product in the marketplace. For Shola Ade-Okafor, the inspiration for her company, BlushinGirl Tools, came from not being able to find an eyeshadow primer suitable for professional make-up artists.
A passion for creating contemporary fragrances led entrepreneur and perfumier, Bhatupe Mhango to launch her own unique label, Bha’s Fragrance Boutique, creating perfumes that are inspired by Africa but for women of the world.
Increasingly today, consumers are becoming so much more conscious about the products they put onto their skin and on their hair, looking for natural, high quality alternatives to the chemical laden products on the shelves. For entrepreneur Olukemi Omotayo Asalu, this represented the perfect opportunity to do something she loved and create a business, Daolus Organic Products, to bring natural organic ingredients from Africa to the world.
Often in business, the inspiration comes from a passion for something and the desire to turn that passion into a sustainable product or service that can benefit others. For Lynette Murua and her sister, Deidrè Akaloo, the starting point was a need to find natural and environmentally friendly skin care solutions for her family. What resulted on this journey was the emergence of a new company, Earth Elements, a new organic and natural body care brand with a conscience.
For many successful entrepreneurs, their journey’s begin with trying to find solutions to key challenges. In the case of entrepreneur Ntombenhle Khathwane, founder of AfroBotanics, the inspiration to startup a business and natural hair and body care product brand came from the frustration of not being able to buy high quality products locally - the rest, as they say, is history!
The ability to build a high potential, high growth business with a sustainable heart is one that entrepreneur, Ana Alecia Lyman, founder of Bio Óleos de Miombo and Grupo Trichilia, has in huge amounts. Her vision to create world-class products that celebrate the sustainable natural resources of Mozambique and create a much needed value chain from community to consumer, is one that is making the world sit up and take notice.
Helping clients to achieve ‘ageless grace’ is the vision that entrepreneur Deborah Nicholls has for her company and she has developed an innovative exercise and wellness programme called Ageless Grace - Anti-Ageing Exercises for Body & Brain, which provides the solution.
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.
The current global trend for fitness is now being seen in Africa, and in Kenya, one athlete turned entrepreneur, Saloni Kantaria, founder of Reform Cycling and Strength Studio in Nairobi, is bringing something fresh to the exercise scene.
There is a growing interest in skincare products that have a natural provenance with ingredients sourced from the African continent, and South African entrepreneur Ntshantsha Tafeni-Majombozi, is tapping into that interest with her brand Yivani Naturals.
Starting any business with a personal passion is always a good building block, and Susan Kinuthia is taking her love of natural skin and hair products to the next level, using it as the inspiration for her own company, Ruzena Naturals. This new kid on the beauty block is creating high quality, natural skin and haircare products for people who are sensitive to mass produced, chemical laced products on the market.
For those of us who have spent hours in yoga studios, with boring yoga mats tucked under our arms, help is at hand. Claire Keet, founder of Sentiens, is on a mission to create beautiful yet practical yoga mats that will inspire anyone looking for that perfect zen moment as they exercise and meditate.
Having beautiful hair is something many women long for, but often can’t attain. For one Kenyan entrepreneur, Angela Livu, this provided an opportunity to create a business that would provide the solution. Her company, Luxury Hair, is providing discerning women with the highest quality hair products that are 100% ethically sourced and beautiful to look at and wear.