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A sustainable and unique approach to the beauty business and community development

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While rapidly evolving into an international manufacturer of personal care products, a woman-owned organization is providing amazing employment opportunities to many South Africans.

Women’s empowerment is a critical development priority. With the swelling numbers of jobless people in Southern Africa, black women, in particular, continue to be over-represented among the poor. They remain the most vulnerable to lack of jobs, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, with their unemployment standing at 31.1%1.

Female empowerment, local production, and a distribution model

Personal care products and functional cosmetics manufacturer Florratt Cosmetics is making a difference by creating decent and dignified jobs for its team of mostly female employees, many of whom are sometimes the sole breadwinners in their families. “When you create employment for women and grow their skills, you empower people and uplift communities,” says founder and CEO Mampho Tjabane. What makes this venture different is local manufacturing, coupled with global distribution. The direct selling business model offers thousands of women entrepreneurial and income-generating opportunities. There are no entry barriers to direct sales, no level of education or training required, and it can be done from the comfort of your home. The women earn rebates through their sales to customers as well as from sales made by their sales teams.

“In addition to manufacturing cosmetic products locally, we are committed to changing lives,” Tjabane says. “Along with our marketing activities, we also rely on a network of thousands of enthusiastic distributors across Africa to grow the business. They earn an income by selling our products to their networks, who must register with us to buy.”

Today the company employs more than 50 factory staff, 90% of them women, and has a further 12 000 multi-level marketing members across Africa and the world. The distribution business model, proven by international giants such as Avon and Amway, facilitates the supply of its products to consumers, ensuring that they reach target customers in the most direct and cost-efficient manner. Importantly, it has created thousands of independent female micro-entrepreneurs who on-sell Florratt Cosmetics’ products. The company also offers a variety of payment methods so that customers can pay easily and securely online. More payment options mean access to more shoppers and increased sales.

“Our marketing strategy means that potential customers must register with Florratt Cosmetics so that they can sell to others in smaller packages,” Tjabane explains. “For women who are hungry for work or seeking to earn a second income, we put flexible and part-time employment opportunities within reach.”

“I love selling Florratt Cosmetics because my customers love them,” says distributor Annah Thakane. “It gives me a chance to help others, while also empowering me to own my own small business and set my schedule. Being a distributor has helped me to give my family more financial freedom, in my own time and at my own pace. It’s life-changing.”

Differentiation is the secret sauce

Tjabane, an electrical engineer by profession, brought curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity to the table when she started the business, seeking out ways to differentiate it from competitors. Her experience enabled the development of a professional production facility, the procurement of sustainable raw materials and the development of a strong and loyal customer base.

Another question that’s a key priority for Southern Africa is how we can capture the insights and traditions of people with rich indigenous knowledge, given the region’s abundant bio-cultural diversity. Promoting the use of indigenous plants and traditional expertise to improve skin and hair health is at the heart of Florratt Cosmetics’ business.

Although people are often unaware of the uses of wild plants and flowers, they have been used for centuries for medicinal and beauty purposes. At Florratt Cosmetics, two, in particular, have provided the raw material for the flourishing business: rosehip (known in Lesotho as ‘microbes’ and the cactus (known as ‘torofeie’).

The fatty acids and vitamin A in rosehip oil moisturize the skin, also promoting skin regeneration, and improving flexibility and permeability. Rosehip oil products can improve skin texture and even reduce the appearance of acne scars or stretch marks. Cacti like the prickly pear have high levels of vitamin E, known to help skin and hair stay nourished, and they also boost linoleic fatty acid, encouraging new cell growth and skin brightness.

“The key to differentiation turned out to be these two local plants that grow abundantly in the South African and Lesotho Mountains,” Tjabane says. “Through sustainable use of medicinal plants like these and many others, Florratt Cosmetics has developed a range of solutions for different skin and hair types, and different problems, including dry skin, acne, pigmentation, blemishes, and cellulite, as well as dry and malnourished hair. Our products go to the root cause of problems to provide a permanent solution.”

She maintains that the business has grown rapidly and is thriving thanks to referrals from happy return customers who have seen great results through extensive use of its natural products, and a network marketing business model that is easy to understand.

“Our employees and distributors are excited about our business and products, and by sharing that enthusiasm with others, we can all work together to grow the company and have an impact on even more lives in the long run,” Tjabane says. “I am determined to continue succeeding by helping others to succeed.”

What Florratt Cosmetics does

This innovative company uses indigenous plants to manufacture environmentally and socially sustainable personal care products focused on healing, soothing and moisturizing. Founded by Mampho Tjabane in 2015, Tjabane began operations from her home in Maseru in Lesotho, and soon opened the first Florratt Cosmetics factory and the second factory soon launched in Kya Sands in Johannesburg, with a new one being launched at the MAP SEZ in Harrismith, Free State.

The organization has grown into one of the leaders in the cosmetics sector on the continent, supplying products from South Africa and Lesotho, various other African countries, and further afield to India, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Florratt Cosmetics manufactures functional cosmetic products for skin and hair that use organic herbal extracts sourced locally, regionally and internationally. The company operates according to the strictest ethical standards.

Zandri Brümmer