Indigenous practices are being displaced by fast-paced, consumerist lifestyles according to Denisha Anand who intends to slow down this pace, and to reconnect people to these practices. Her business, Ori Organics, is a handmade body and skincare brand. It is minimalist, vegan, zero-waste and chemical-free.
Denisha works as a conservationist and botanist. On the Ori Organics Instagram page, she says, “Ori Organics is my passion manifesting as a business.”
By using African indigenous ingredients, the products spark conversations about “traditional medicine and their uses and how it was passed down via grandparents and elders. This circulation of knowledge is what means the most to me.”
We caught up with Denisha via email with questions:
Tell us more.
We take lessons from indigenous plants to help us slow down, be generous, practice community and live with and in harmony. Our healing products are created slowly and mindfully, ensuring that both the medicinal and esoteric properties of the ingredients are activated and made accessible to the user. Indigenous plants are either cultivated at home or harvested sustainably in natural spaces. All ingredients are organic and materials are reusable or biodegradable.
What is unique about your products?
I think my brand stands out because it embraces a minimalist approach to healing and beauty. This is not something that the mainstream industry promotes. My products are multi-purpose, you can use them for more than one thing. For instance, my serums are for cuticles, hair and skin. I look at the properties of the plant ingredients and I choose those that work on root causes of problem skin. I don’t promote my ingredients as quick fixes because I promote slow and sustainable lifestyles too. You need to use our products, stay hydrated, exfoliate, eat whole foods etc to get the maximum results.
Why do you use indigenous ingredients?
Instead of focussing on aesthetics, I wanted to create something that works from the inside which is witnessed on the outside. Because I work with and study indigenous plants I wanted to share their mysticism and healing with my people. Our indigenous practices are being displaced by fast paced, consumerist lifestyles and Ori Organics is a platform and range that hopes to bring us back. By using African ingredients, I can share my culture and knowledge with those who support my business. Using ingredients from my continent makes the product authentic and relatable to people. My ingredients spark conversations about traditional medicine and their uses; and how it was passed down via grandparents and elders. The value is immense and the circulation of knowledge is what means the most to me.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Entering a white-dominated business space was challenging at first. Also it was tricky finding access to a market that wants to buy my product instead of a flashy plastic quick fix. I dealt with it through constantly building my worth as a business owner. I believed that my product is needed and kept pushing that idea. Eventually the right people found me and I found them.
What does sustainability mean in this industry?
It means that as you move along the various chains of production, you don’t deplete natural resources, the planet nor the labour that produces it. Once the product is finished, the packaging should also not contribute to the degradation of the planet. There will always be a demand for beauty products, and meeting that demand means you need to think about where the resources will come from and how extracting and transforming those resources will impact the environment and its people.
It means being conscious of our consumption and use of resources that will not cause any harm to socio ecological systems. It means meeting the needs of people without harming the natural and built environment of these people through production.
What shifts would you like to see in the beauty industry?
I’d like to see less of the foreign, white standard of beauty being thrown at us (yes, like Clicks). I would like to see more emphasis on healing the image of the beauty of African people. Beauty is about accepting the self as you are, loving what you feel and look like, in all your forms. Accepting the seasonality of the body is beauty to me. I’d like to see fewer chemicals in product and less industrial mass production; more local production by Black-owned businesses. I would love to see African ingredients for African bodies. We heal when we use our plants, soils and natural resources that we were birthed alongside.
What South African beauty brands do you recommend?