FEEL GOOD | Leap of faith: Car accident inspires Pretoria mom to start skin and hair care brand

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  • Relebohile Moeng started Afri-Berry, a range of organic skin and hair products, after a car accident left her with 150 stitches on her face.  
  • Almost 10 years later, her products are stocked in Pick 'n Pay, Checkers and Clicks.
  • Afri-Berry is also found in Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana and New Zealand.

Ten years ago, Relebohile Moeng had a life-altering experience.

She was in a car accident that left more than 150 stitches on her face.

Her doctors said the only way to minimise the scarring was through plastic surgery.

Instead, she opted for natural remedies.

"When I started using cold-pressed argan oil, I experienced the true healing power of organic products. Natural products penetrate up to 90% of the skin," Moeng told News24.

Bright idea

When her skin took well to the oils, Moeng wanted more people to access the healing benefits of these oils.

It seemed like the perfect time to launch her own business because, before her accident, she had been retrenched.

Moeng hit the ground running.

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"I didn't have the luxury of time. At the time, I was a mom of two little kids that we had to put through school. So, I had to get up and do something. I was doing something to put bread on the table. Little did I know I was onto my destiny," she said. 

Afri-Berry blossoms

With R 10 000 as seed capital, she started Afri-Berry, a range of organic skin and hair products.

Afri-Berry set itself apart from other organic products on the market through its ingredients and formulas.

The Jamaican castor oil is infused with cow placenta, and the raw shea butter is infused with mango extract.

"The beauty of organic products is that you can use it from head to toe. Also, the products can be used on babies, especially babies with skin ailments, like eczema.

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"So we positioned ourselves as multi-purpose products," she said.

In the early days, Moeng's products were stocked in small retailers.

"In 2015, the haircare buyer for Pick 'n Pay was using our products. She contacted us and told us that she used the products and was liking what they were doing to her hair."

The sky is the limit

Afri-Berry is now stocked in more than 200 Pick 'n Pay stores nationwide. Checkers and other online stockists have also partnered with Moeng.

Many businesses struggled during the first year of the pandemic. However, 2020 was a successful year for the hair and skin brand.

It got listed in significant healthcare retailer Clicks, with the products in more than 200 stores countrywide.

Afri-Berry didn't stop there; an online store was also launched.

"Being in business is not easy. It's like being on the sea of life; there are storms and winds every day."

But Moeng is not ready to jump ship.

She also exports her products to Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana and New Zealand. And she plans to further expand to other parts of Africa and the world.

Let women lead

Moeng is passionate about the growth and advancement of women and the youth.

Afri-Berry's manufacturing facility in Cape Town is dominated by women.

The head office in Irene, Pretoria, has a staff of 27, and these positions are occupied predominately by black women.

To date, Moeng has given more than 55 paid internships to unemployed graduates.

"There is nothing we cannot do. As women entrepreneurs, we should continue to empower other women and make them see the power and value they have within them.

"Since the beginning of time, women have been the backbone of the economy."

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