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Beauty Spot: How O’live grew from passion project to livelihood

by | Sep 9, 2020

Husband and wife team, Sipho and Zikhona Tefu started their organic, handmade and natural skincare brand O’live in their kitchen in 2011. Zikhona produced a batch of 10 soaps as a personal experiment to move towards a more natural lifestyle and to help her daughter’s eczema. In 2013 Zikhona started selling her soaps at local markets and by 2016, O’live had to move to bigger premises to keep up with the demand. Besides soap, they are now making oils and serums too. Sipho left his job as an engineer and joined the business as manager of packaging, production and markets, while Zikhona manages admin and PR.

Tell us about O’live?

O’live started as a personal research journey for naturally-sourced and naturally-made skincare alternatives that would help alleviate my daughter’s eczema. Around the same time I was at the beginning of a lifestyle change in a bid to work towards becoming a more conscious consumer which taught me to question the origin of everything I used.

The name was a play on the word “olive”. After I had done my research on the benefits of olive oil in skincare it became the base for all the skincare products I made. It is a message to live consciously closer to nature.

What are your products made from?

Our products are made from naturally-derived ingredients, mostly in their raw, unrefined form.

Where are your raw materials sourced?

Most of our raw materials are sourced from local growers and farmers. Some of the ingredients we use in our products include locally-sourced olive oil, unrefined shea butter from Ghana, and indigenous oils. We prioritise sourcing locally for reasons including economic empowerment, sustainability, and carbon footprint. We believe it is our responsibility as a business.

Why is it so important to use natural products on your skin?

Natural products are more concentrated in their pure form. As our skins absorb what we put on it, it is important that we feed it with gentle, effective skincare.

Is the manufacturing process sustainable?

Yes it is. We try hard to minimise waste and avoid it causing harm to the environment. Our products return to the soil easily and gently.

Is your packaging sustainable?

Yes, we use recycled craft paper and glass for our packaging, with recyclable plastic alternatives.

What challenges do you face as a sustainable business owner?

Our biggest challenges are inconsistencies in products or raw materials due to seasonal changes which can affect colour, smell, and texture of the product. It often presents a problem as most consumers prefer to see their products exactly the same, batch after batch. But, being a producer of small-batch, artisanal, hand-crafted goods, we have learnt to embrace this.

Who are your inspirations?

I draw inspiration from all around me. The energy from my children inspires me to keep my mind young. I’m also inspired by smells, textures, sounds and silence and those who stand against all odds.

Top eco-brands that you are following right now?

Nubian Nature for all things hair.
Sitting Pretty for all things fashion.

Any growth plans in the pipeline?

Yes! We are working on growing our contract manufacturing division.

For more information, visit O’live’s website here

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