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The business of hair



Own Correspondent

ROMA – ARE you an African woman who is about to give up on your hair?

Take comfort as Hape Marite, a National University of Lesotho (NUL) BA Marketing graduate, has found a solution for you.

She has spent sleepless nights on research and experimentation to provide a 100 percent organic solution to your hair problems. Her company is dubbed Black Hair (Pty) Ltd.

Marite’s fascination with business was years in the making.

“I started getting into business when I was 13,” she says.

Decades later, she is ever determined to transform the African hair product landscape with her ingenuity.

The young energetic lady has had her efforts recognised by Vodacom Lesotho and UNESCO.

Actually, she is one of the privileged few to be part of the celebrated Vodacom Innovation Hub where her business skills are being honed further.

She was also among the winners of the recently held UNESCO Pitch Competition and she became part of the team that attended a one week Inter-Action International Seminar in Port Elizabeth.

What sparked her interest in hair products?

“My journey in this area was born out of my desire to deal with my own hair,” she says.

“I wanted to understand it, and I wanted to improve it. To me, this business of hair is more than just business; it is my way of life.”

Being a young lady born in a hi-tech era, a brilliant idea once crossed her mind. What if she started a WhatsApp group to discuss hair problems with other ladies? After all, birds of the same feather flock together.

“A group that started with 10 ladies ended up with 50 ladies at the moment, and it is growing,” she reveals.

It is in this group that the women share all tips and tricks on how to handle hair and keep it looking healthy.

As discussions went on within the group, Marite made an observation.

It appears there weren’t enough products out there that were meant to address the needs of a black woman’s hair.

Those that existed were mainly laden with chemicals.

Then, she began her intriguing journey.

Her incredible trip into her remarkable products is one that proves the undeniable truth long observed by the world’s eminent thinkers: we are all scientists at heart.

In the words of Carl Sagan, “every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them.”

In the case of Marite, it appears, no one succeeded in beating a scientist “out of” her. Here is why.

As soon as Marite started observing the problem, her racing mind was already teeming with ideas.

What if she comes up with a 100 percent organic solution to the problem?

In science, experiment is everything. It is the backbone of the acclaimed scientific method. And that is exactly where Marite decided to start.

“I tried all organic products,” she reveals.

“I would use them on my hair and then observe the results.”

You will surely be bewildered by what formed a catalogue of her experimental materials.

The list included bananas, eggs, yogurt, olive oil and honey to mention but a few.

Consumed by enduring passion, she found herself making serious literature survey on the internet, developing more experiments and refining her products.

And, she reveals, “I really wanted to know what nutrients our hair really needed.”

She would soon come to understand that hairs are different and they had to be treated differently.

While most women would just put anything that is claimed to be “good” on their hair, she found that it was better to know why even hair products with “good” ingredients might provide an opposite effect on some hairs.

“For instance,” she says, “our hair needs humectants (substances that moisturise).”

While other hair types need glycerin, others thrive on coconut oil although both substances are humectants.

“If you have excess protein in your hair, coconut oil will work better than glycerin and vice-versa.”

Then, after hours and hours of hard work and thinking, Marite came up with products that will shake the hair products landscape in Lesotho and beyond.

Her products are made of 100 percent natural ingredients.

She is happy to say, they are chemical-free.

She is now involving the NUL Faculty of Science and Technology to improve on her products.

One of her products is an assembly of coconut oil, olive oil and other essential oils, carefully blended in right quantities that will leave your hair looking very healthy and glowing.

Her products can be purchased at Sister Sister Hair Salon in Maseru. They will soon be available in other salons.

What inspires Marite?

Here is the motto of this NUL trained hair guru that keeps her inspired: “If someone can do it, I can do it.”

Probably, she is following in the footsteps of ancient thinkers who documented this timeless truth: “If it is there in one of us, it is there in all of us.”

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