Updated: Oct 10, 2020
For many natural hair enthusiasts in Zim and a lot of women looking for a better way to take care of their hair, Manetain organics products seem like a godsend. Social media abounds with stories of how the discovery of these products have changed many a hair journey. For the uninitiated, this is a chance to find out what Manetain is all about, and how it came to be a growing force in the african hair industry.
Some are born great, others achieve greatness and some have greatness upon them”- William Shakespeare
Sage words from the legendary writer but he may have failed to account for the intricacy of the human experience. We all have a beautiful contribution to the world dormant within us and sometimes it requires a little thrusting to push us to work for the greatness we are meant to achieve. Talking to Lienne Shonhiwa, the founder of Manetain Organics really brings forth the progression of this phenomenon as she takes us on the journey of how a natural hair care brand specifically tailored to meet the needs of African women of colour was born. Join us as we reveal the force behind the brand.
How did Manetain organics come to be?
Where do I even begin, I am a mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and all these things to so many people. There were so many moving pieces to how Manetain Organics basically came about and it seemed like all of these things happened individually but they sort of simultaneously or sequentially contributed to get me to the point where I am now. I was a blogger and had my own Facebook page with quite a good following where I used to share my own tips and tutorials about how I took care of my hair. I did a lot of DIYs and used to show people how to make their own concoctions but this was all done on the side because it was a passion even though I had a proper corporate 9-5 job that I was comfortable and happy with. I never dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur or business person. Right about the time that I was four months pregnant, I got to work one day and was told “thanks, but no thanks”, and just like that I was fired. That became a very dark and difficult time during my pregnancy. It was a traumatising experience and I was very depressed but eventually after I gave birth to my son I got back to being me I guess.
I had always been a worker, someone hands on and I like to keep my mind sharp, so I thought “hey, these concoctions and mixtures I make, why don’t I just put them on the market?” During that time, I had gone through post-partum shedding and had lost so much hair but I had come up with a product that worked really well recovering it and I thought maybe I could share it with my followers and put it up on the market. In a nutshell that is kind of how Manetain Organics came to life. It was mostly the passion that I had for my hair and the lack of availability of good quality products for natural hair. Its so frustrating when your hair is breaking and you cannot get into a supermarket and find products to remedy it or if you do occasionally bump into one or two products that people talk about on Youtube, it is so so expensive and not exactly affordable for the average Zimbabwean.
Tell us a bit about the products and how they are formulated for our hair type.
We have 4 types of Butters because we decided on different formulas targeting different needs, instead of doing a one size fits all butter that carries all the generic ingredients hoping that everyone’s hair will like it. If a person comes into our shop looking for a product we can recommend one based on their needs and hair porosity.
Our recently launched avocado butter range comprising of cowash, leave-in conditioner, deep conditioner, curling cream and hair balm has been doing really well and it is targeted towards low porosity hair or what people like to call ‘hard mashona’ type of hair.
We formulated it because that is what most of our clients were looking for, products to moisturise, soften and make the hair more manageable. . We also considered the fact that the climate in Southern Africa is very dry and this is also the type of hair that the majority of people in our region have which is something that other international companies may not take into consideration when doing their formulation. We are intentional with our ranges about what we are trying to do and meeting the needs of our customers.
We also have a honey and marula range which works well for medium porosity hair and next we plan on formulating a range for high porosity hair.
Could you highlight for us some of the major lessons you learnt in production, business, running of your shop or just the process of getting your brand off the ground?
Yoh! There are a lot of lessons that I have learnt in business.
1st... start where you are with what you have. You don’t have to have a lot of money or a huge following. Some people do not start because they have this dreamy perception of business and do not want to be seen struggling or starting from the bottom. Do not compare my chapter 20 to your chapter 1. For me to get here I had to start at chapter 1 and you do not want to have to kick yourself two years from now that you should have started today. You will be glad later on that you started when you did and did not wait for things to be perfect because the truth of the matter is nothing will ever be perfect and no one is going to come to you with a cheque.
I have also learnt that humility takes you further in life than that ‘fake it till you make it’ philosophy. Stay in your lane and be humble about it. If you do not ask for help, no one will ever give it to you. If you act as if you have made it and do not need any help then no one will ever help you. Even when you have made it still be humble because you do not know where your biggest lesson will come from, do not look down on people. Also know that your friends and your family are not your customers. Yes they are the people around you and they love you but don’t put pressure on them to support your business.
At the end of the day your biggest customers and supporters will be total strangers who do not know you or your background so try and target people like that. If you can convince total strangers to buy from you then you have achieved the ultimate goal. You also need to have a lot of passion because when it gets really tough you need something to keep you going especially in an economy like ours where it is not easy. When you work hard at something it shows, the effort you put into your brand, customer service or your craft will show. Continue to better yourself and your craft whether you are a creative, a YouTuber, in business or whatever it may be. The truth is there are a million other people who have the exact same idea as yours and probably have more resources than you do but if you have worked at perfecting your art it gives you an edge and keeps you winning.
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