Interview: Meet Ntombenhle Khathwane, Founder and Creator of AfroBotanics

By . - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy Womens Month!

As you guys may already know, I had a chance to review AfroBotanics hair range, which is a proudly South African product line created by Ntombenhle Khathwane. She's a woman with a very clear vision to change the way to look at and care for afro textured hair. 

If you haven't read my review on the range please click HERE.
I'm also giving away a 5 piece hamper from the range, so if you're interested in trying the products, kindly click HERE to enter.


Kavuli Nyali-Binase - Who is Ntombenhle?

Ntombenhle Khathwane - I guess I define myself first according to the roles I play that matter most to me. I am first a mother to my 15-month old son and 19 year old daughter, I am a wife, an entrepreneur that is so very proudly African and a proud feminist. I love laughing and have an easy-going manner about me. I am a typical compassionate woman that cries easily but stands strong to defend my convictions. I have learnt to be patient and to be persistent, and importantly to always be a cheerleader to others in their efforts, especially women.

KNB - How did you come up with the idea for AfroBotanics?

NK - AfroBotanics was more a response to my frustrations that resulted from not understanding my hair, and then realizing that there aren't enough products in the South African market that are formulated to assist me grow strong, good hair. I am not the DIY type so buying ready formulated products is easier, and so I decided to make an offering for women like me who want good hair and good products but don't have the inclination to mix products weekly.

KNB - How did you go about developing your products?

NK - I was horrified when I researched and realized that my hair would react best to a certain mix of products that wasn't available on the market. I was horrified at the self-inflicted damage my hair had undergone due to my ignorance. After reading mostly American blogs, I spent time in the USA learning about best ingredients and formulations for black hair. When I returned (to South Africa) I found a contract manufacturer and resigned from my government job and invested my pension into building the AfroBotanics business.

KNB - Who has been your greatest role model?

NK - Unfortunately most of my role models are based outside the continent, Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter is my favorite role model.

KNB - What has been your greatest obstacle since starting AfroBotanics?

NK - Shoo! Starting a consumer product business is hard, it requires a lot of money and determination. I studied politics and knew nothing about business, so I had to teach myself the various skills such as writing a business plan, marketing plan, sales plan etc. Then I got into entrepreneurship programs to strengthen my skills. Other challenges relate to lack of business network. I was in government, moving into business meant I had no network or mentors. This makes everything harder, longer and more expensive.

KNB - How would you define "Good Hair"?

NK - The universal musts to have good hair, are to have a healthy scalp that is clean and moisturized; and hair that is moisturized properly. No matter the style or state hair is in - relaxed, natural, short, dreadlocked, colour-treated - if hair is properly moisturized it looks good and will damage less easily. My hair is an accessory so I have always been prone to doing all sorts of things to it. But now I know how to inflict the least amount of damage to my hair knowing that because it is not a "living" organism, once damaged it is hard to "repair."

KNB - Where can consumers find AfroBotanics?

NK - AfroBotanics has just been listed in Sweet Penny Stores and Head To Toe Stores, and we are working on getting listed in other stores soon. And off course via the website I have also realized that most salon stylists need an extra income revenue stream, especially those that are in rent-a-chair situations. These stylists are mini-entrepreneurs and offering them AfroBotanics as a product to sell to augment their styling income is a good model. We have started implementing this and a few salon stylists are selling AfroBotanics products.

KNB - Do you have a favorite product in the range? If so, what are they and why?

NK - My favourite product is the Super Hair Growth Creme. I like that it is a cocktail of great natural oils, it moisturises my scalp, protects my hair and gives my hair shine but isn't heavy and thick. I have a dry scalp and applying the creme daily keeps it from getting itchy or flaky. I also love the added Procapil which promotes hair growth.

KNB - I understand that you have a daughter. What do you think starting AfroBotanics has taught her?

NK - Nothing is more important to me than raising my daughter to be confident, knowing she can do and be whatever she wants. She is my special baby, I had her at 16 and I have always had some guilt about that. I felt that for most of her life I have been growing so I wasn't the best parent. However, I have learnt that children first seek role models at home, from their parents especially, and I don't want her to look outside her home for inspiration or affirmation. As a black woman, with all the odds stacked against her, she need not be defined or limited by them.

KNB - What message do you hope to convey through AfroBotanics?

NK - AfroBotanics is more than a business to me. I have always been political in my outlook, and how can I not be as a black woman growing up in South Africa? I strongly believe that Africans need to start producing that which they consume, it is the only way to grow our economies so they provide decent jobs and better living standards for all. And so with AfroBotanics I want to build a premium African brand that starts positioning African products and services as quality and result-driven products so as to encourage more entrepreneurs to do the same and to keep money circulating within the continent. Importantly I want AfroBotanics to be a brand that celebrates African women. I love and am so proud of what my African sisters are doing, we are so beautiful and so strong and I want this business to contribute to that legacy.


Good Hair Diaries says...

If I can take one thing away from interview Ntombenhle Khathwane, it would be to be the change you want to see. It's no secret that most large hair care brands don't care about afro textured hair. You can see this clearly in the low quality and sometimes carcinogenic ingredients they feed our hair. We could all sit around and complain about it, or we could stop buying these "anti-black" hair care brands and put our money where our mouth is. Mrs. Khathwane is doing it and that's an initiative that I'm willing to support.

To find out more about AfroBotanics, please visit the website 

Have a Good Hair Day and remember to Love Your Hair!!!

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