MIRACLE INGREDIENT
Fairlady|June 2020
An ex-attorney and a former beauty editor reveal how their beauty brands came to life, thanks to the power of rock star natural ingredients.
ASHLEIGH ROMAN

Suki Suki Naturals Linda Gieskes-Mwamba

STARTUP COSTS: ‘I had about R16000 in savings to start with,’ says Linda.

TURNOVER: ‘We’ve had a minimum of 100 percent growth every year since launching in 2014. And 2020 is looking great as we’re working on both local and international expansion.’

What inspired the launch of Suki Suki Naturals?

I hadn’t planned to start my own business. In 2010, I decided to grow my hair into an afro but finding the right product was nearly impossible. At the time, the market for natural haircare wasn’t very big and although some natural products were starting to pop up, they were really expensive and available only in the US or Canada. So I decided to experiment. I did some research on oils, plants, butter, and clays, and found ways to cleanse and condition my hair. My hair started growing so well: faster, stronger, and thicker.

Which specific ingredients did you play around with?

Jamaican black castor oil, shea oil, peppermint oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil – the combination of these oils made up the first version of the Miraculous Oil, which is still my bestseller today. That initial version had about six oils but the current one has 13 ingredients.

You practiced law before taking on this venue. What was that career shift like?

It was a long process. It took some time to fully immerse myself into Suki Suki Naturals because I was quite far into my law career. When I was in the US to take the New York bar exam, I left 20 bottles of product with my mom in SA and they all sold. I left law only in 2017 but officially launched Suki Suki in 2014 with three products: the Mango Butter, Miraculous Oil and the Hydro-Protective Hair Mist, all of which I’d developed myself as I was not yet working with a lab and a formulator. We had great feedback.

The brand started out as a haircare range – why did you decide to introduce skincare?

My main concern was that I was using chemical-heavy products. The ‘good’ products were extremely expensive and the ‘affordable’ ones were basically quick fixes with no long-term solution to skin concerns.

How did you come up with the name of the business?

I’m originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo and suki means ‘hair’ in Lingala, which is one of the local languages. I thought it was such a nice word: it’s fun, light and not too serious. I liked it so much that I used it twice! After researching the word a bit more, I discovered that it has different meanings in various languages. In Japanese it means ‘to be fond of’ or ‘to love’, and in Hindi, it means ‘to be happy’, so the universal meaning of the name was really positive and reinforced my decision.

What inspires you?

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FAIRLADYView All

How to Survive the Feast-Or Famine Cycle

It’s empowering to have more than one income stream, but there is a downside: it’s easy to splurge when money is plentiful, but what about the lean months? Three self-starters share their tips for keeping an even keel through good and bad.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Kaley's Comet

Kaley Cuoco was so beguiling as Penny on The Big Bang Theory that she soon became one of the highest paid actors in television. With HBO’s comedic thriller series The Flight Attendant, she entered exciting, slightly sinister new territory – but it proved her range as an actress and cemented her broad-based appeal.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Let the Music Play

My dad died days before the global lockdown. While I was trapped within four walls, music and dancing gave me reason to smile again.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

How to Make Your Own Luck

Luck isn’t easy to measure or study, but those who have managed to do it discovered it’s not the work of fate – it’s a skill you can cultivate and improve. So, how do you go about it?

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Local Flavour

Stocking up your pantry? These artisanal foods are guaranteed to ignite the senses of home chefs everywhere. Meet the foodies behind two of South Africa’s tastiest brands.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Comfort of Ritual

Rituals imbue our lives with depth and meaning. And in times of uncertainty, they are even more important because they create a sense of grounding.

8 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Get Your Shine Back!

When the last of the summer heat is over, it’s important to take time to reverse any hair damage caused by sun and sea water.

5 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

The Rise of the Personal Shopper

It’s not a new concept, but the number of people who make a living from sourcing goods on behalf of clients is on the rise. We talked to three personal shoppers to find out what it takes.

7 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

Back to the Wild

Imagine camping in the Little Karoo… a billion stars above you, the ancient desert beneath, the insistent flapping of your canvas tent in the cold night air. Then banish all the rustic images this conjures up – because Dwyka Tented Lodge will confound all your expectations.

6 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022

A Good (Mo) Hair Day

"Beauty Mokgwamme had other dreams, but circumstances took her exactly where she was meant to be."

3 mins read
Fairlady
March/April 2022