Relebohile Moeng is the founder of Afri-Berry – a manufacturer of organic repair skin and hair cosmetic products. Think: cold-pressed argan oil, Jamaican black castor oil with cow placenta extract (yup – you read that right!), virgin coconut oil, black organic liquid soap and mango shea butter.
But let’s back up a little to where it all began. After an accident left her with over a 150 stitches on her face, Relebohile (a GIBS graduate who holds a Master’s degree in Business Management) looked for more affordable solutions to cure her scars. Cold-pressed argan oil yielded results and her interest was piqued.
Following her retrenchment from work, Moeng and her husband decided to do some research into organic skin and hair products, and this led to the launch of Afri-Berry in 2011.
Relebohile is passionate about empowerment and Afri-Berry is a multi award-winning youth and women empowering cosmetics brand. She tells GH about the journey…
“Women and girl children have equal rights to participate in education, society, economy and politically,” says Relebohile. “Some women are not confident to work in [hard conditions or high positions] because they still [believe it’s not a woman’s place]. Women’s empowerment is [in part] to encourage women to feel strong by telling them that they can do everything they want to do.”
How easy (or tough) is it to get into the beauty industry?
The cosmetic industry has grown over the past few decades and is currently a billion-dollar industry. “Consumers have realised the importance of self-image and presentation and this has boosted the purchase of cosmetic products across the world. But the barriers of entry into the beauty industry are high,” explains Relebohile.
So, how do you get that foot in the door? Innovate. “Aspiring suppliers must have a unique selling point to prospective buyers who are always looking to offer value, convenience and excellence to their customer. We are one of a few brands known to be involved in the agro processing of our oils and butters from seed to the finished product. Our Jamaican black castor oil contains a registered patent for cow placenta extract,” she says. “Innovation, research and development are key, as well as aggressive marketing and campaigns.”
Advice for ambitious youngsters?
There are a lot of internships available to graduates, says Relebohile. Government also gives incentives to all businesses to employ youth under 35. Keep an eye out for incubators and training platforms offered by government and government parastatals.
Leadership lessons learnt along the way
1/ “Be authentic, passionate and consistent in what you believe in.”
2/ “Write down your vision and live your values. The personal is more engaging, even inspiring, than the process.”
3/ “The world is full of great ideas, but success only comes through action.”
4/ “Your mind limits what you can do with your time, so manage it wisely.”
5/ “No one succeeds in business alone, and those who try will lose to a great team every time.”
6/ “Build your own great team to bolster your success. As you build your team, hire for character and values. You can always train someone on skills, but you can’t make someone’s values fit your company after the fact.”
Afri-Berry is based in the City of Tshwane. Afri-Berry products are sold at Pick n Pay, Checkers Hyper, Edgars, Zando, Faithful to Nature and Cosmetic Connection locally.