Everyone loves the idea of youthful skin but it can be hard to achieve in our busy lives. But help is at hand, thanks to L’abeille, a South African natural skincare brand that works at a cellular level, created by entrepreneur Karen Potgieter.
Lionesses of Africa met with this enterprising natural skincare creator this month in Port Elizabeth to learn more.
What does your company do?
L’abeille develops, formulates and manufactures skincare products that are natural and high performance, with targeted youth preserving & restoring benefits. L’abeille is designed to address natural nourishment as well as high performance, without compromising the need for natural and sustainably sourced ingredients. The focus is on restoring and maintaining youthful skin over a wide age spectrum, using ingredients that nature has provided, but science has proven.
“L’abeille is a story of my heritage and my home country. Having French descent, but being born and raised in South Africa, I decided to combine my love for both.”
What inspired you to start your company?
The growing consumer need for not only natural skincare, but for skincare that works at a cellular level. Skincare that included natural, yet high performance raw material with scientifically proven results. We also wanted to take the 'guess work' out of the consumers hands and supply a label that was clean & honest.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
All ingredients used in the L’abeille Range are carefully selected for their function, high quality, and effect they have on our skin. High Performance Ingredients are used at the correct and most effective percentage, as used in their in-vitro & in-vivo testing and are scientifically proven in their claims. No fillers are necessary in our products, and every ingredient has a purpose in the formulation to keep the product balanced, safe and results driven. Our formulas are a scientific combination of very carefully selected and fully researched High Performance raw materials, African Oils, Botanical Extracts and Essential Oils. Every ingredient is also Ecocert/Natural compliant and never tested on animals. The L’abeille range is fully endorsed by Beauty without Cruelty. All our raw materials are sourced from sustainable sources that carry the least impact on our environment. Any preservatives used in L’abeille are thoroughly investigated so that we are sure to offer you a product with the least chance of sensitivity, but still without putting our customer at risk of using a compromised product. The proudly South African skincare range, L’abeille, was showcased at the 2018 MERCK Global Performance Materials Meeting, being specially chosen for chemists doing stellar work in cosmetic development. L’abeille was chosen as being a “Perfect example of locally developed and innovative products using MERCK Actives”. The South African stand displaying some of the L'abeille products won 2nd place in this global meeting.
The key ingredient, Renoumer, is one of the revolutionary ingredients that has set L’abeille apart from the rest. “There are not many products available globally yet that contain Renoumer – this is an incredible achievement”, added a representative for MERCK, one of the oldest and most trusted cosmetic raw material suppliers in the world. L’abeille offers a unique packaging concept – Miron Violet Glass, which serves as part of its preservation system. This makes it possible for us to use natural preservative systems and escape the need of parabens or formaldehyde releasing preservatives. We are the only South African brand using this type of glass as part of this concept. We are very proud of the ethics we carry through all of our decisions relating to the choices and manufacturing of the L’abeille Skincare Range.
“The floral extracts and honey used in L’abeille would not be possible without our bee colonies, which are so important for the sustainable existence of all our beautiful flowers, hence the use of L’abeille as our brand name.”
Tell us a little about your team
For now, it is only me, a few amazing and inspiring women, and my family that continue to stand behind me, but I plan to grow the business to include more South African contractors and to employ workers with the same passion for the brand and this type of business as me.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I initially launched with a basic, natural body care range - Bee Pure in 2013. After seeing a gap in the market for natural, yet high performance skincare, and after studying further in anti-aging formulations skills and advanced cosmetic science, L'abeille took shape. After much trial, error and testing, it was launched in 2017.
L’abeille is a story of my heritage and my home country. Having French descent, but being born and raised in South Africa, I decided to combine my love for both. In the L’abeille range I have combined exquisite African oils with some outstanding high-performance actives, some being harvested off the breathtakingly beautiful coastline of Brittany, France. The floral extracts and honey used in L’abeille would not be possible without our bee colonies, which are so important for the sustainable existence of all our beautiful flowers, hence the use of L’abeille as our brand name.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
My vision is to grow L’abeille into a household name in Luxury Skincare, and to make it available worldwide. With brand exposure, in 4 features recently, in UK magazines – VOGUE, HARPER'S BAZAAR & BRIDES, I hope that this will be the start of many doors opening into the UK market, and possibly Europe. We already have our first online stockist in Florida.
I will continue to study, research and grow in my formulation skills, to develop new concept products to stay ahead of the competitors. Success within my business would be to have a team as dedicated to the growth and passion for the cosmetics industry as I have, and to work together to make L’abeille grow into a leader in green beauty. The ethical beauty industry is growing at an outstanding rate, and I wish to dominate a good percentage of that, by offering the best in affordable, luxury and advanced clean beauty.
“Our formulas are a scientific combination of very carefully selected and fully researched High Performance raw materials, African Oils, Botanical Extracts and Essential Oils.”
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is satisfying because the growth, success and achievements are completely determined by your passion and effort - what you put in, is what you get out. We can sometimes be too hard on ourselves, and don't take the time to appreciate the small successes we achieve along the way. But all of them, are as a result of our hard work, and dedication to our passion. Being featured in VOGUE, has definitely been one of those highlights on this reel of L’abeille's growth, rolling out in sequence and developing into something great.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
CONSISTENCY IS KEY. Never give up on your dream. A dream is a goal, with a plan and a deadline. Set small and achievable deadlines within your process, this makes progress possible, and doesn't leave you with that feeling that your end goal is impossible. I hope to motivate young ladies with the same interests to pursue their dreams and recognize that success is achievable, and that education is key to growth.
Contact or follow L’abeille
Why LoA loves it….
It is always such a pleasure to see truly world-class skincare brands emerging from the African continent, brands that harness the power of natural ingredients found in Africa. Global consumers are demanding greener solutions to meet their skincare needs whilst treading lighter on the planet. They are taking a greater interest in natural botanicals and other ingredients that have been used in Africa for centuries, and today, businesses such as L’abeille are harnessing all that is unique on the continent and developing exciting new products that the world wants to buy. This is a brand to watch over the coming months and years. — Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa