Growing up, sisters Louiza Rademan and Christine Buchanan were raised in a family that values the ethos of organic products. They would sometimes make lotions and potions as a hobby, so when Buchanan became pregnant with her first son and was dissatisfied with the mass-produced chemically formulated skin care products in the market, Rademan decided to make an all natural bum balm for her nephew.
After a while, the sisters began gifting the bum balm to family and friends. Positive reviews received on the quality and efficacy of the balm later encouraged them to organise and sell the bum balm at their first trade show in early 2010. The trade show was such a success that the demand for the product outweighed its supply on the first day. “We started doing trade shows and we listened to our clients’ needs, especially on the type of conventional products they wanted from an organic product,” Buchanan recalls. “We later noticed there was high demand for natural organic products in South Africa.”
This knowledge spurred the duo to commercially launch their baby bum balm product and their company – Oh-lief Organic & Natural Products, a 100% natural and organic skin and body care product range in October 2010. The sisters quit their jobs (Rademan and Buchanan worked as an architect and property manager respectively) and concentrated on growing their business.
How did the company grow into the business it is today?
For the first few years, the sisters were working out of the kitchens of their homes, using family recipes to develop products that are ideal for all skin types. They also re-invested all the revenue into the business to ensure that there was money for growth. However, every business has a moment that changes its course. For Oh-lief it was winning the R1m (US$72,130) prize money in Standard Bank’s 2014 startup competition for entrepreneurs in South Africa, as featured in the television series Think Big. The money allowed the company to invest in new equipment and develop its business and investment strategies.