This week, ‘African Start-Up’ reports from Kenya, meeting an entrepreneur who has created a 100 percent organic natural hair line, which has expanded across the continent and into Europe.
Michelle Ntalami founded Marini Naturals in 2013, having returned to Kenya after studying interior design in Italy.
She explains to ‘African Start-Up’ how her desire to live a healthier lifestyle inspired her business: “Everything about me that had chemicals or was not natural or was synthetic, had to go in my life. So one of the things I did was cut my hair and let it grow naturally and then when I did that, I could not find products in the market suitable for women of natural hair like myself.”
Now operating with a team of eight employees, Marini Naturals also works with a separate team of research laboratories, formulators, hair stylists, chemical engineers and cosmetic scientists.
Whilst Marini Naturals expanded quickly, success has come with a price tag as Ntalami tells ‘African Start-Up’: “Some of our challenges in the very beginning was raising that start-up capital needed to put together the products, the formulation, get a good laboratory, get qualified scientist, get labels… We really wanted a product that looks so good, looks international standards, and that cost quite a bit.”
Ntalami reveals the cost of the start-up to ‘African Start-Up’: “It took me $50-70,000 to put this together. It was not easy to get that capital… I got a lot of support from my family, my mom, my brother who came through for me, and we were able to collect all the finances we could to set up shop.”
On the future, Ntalami hopes to see Marini Naturals expand out of East Africa, telling ‘African Start-Up’: “I have a vision to make Marini Naturals the leading hair care line for all women in Africa and beyond… We are in Tanzania, we’re in Uganda, we’re in Rwanda, we’re soon to be in South Africa. Even more recently we are now in France. We didn’t even know that there’s a huge demand there, but we just heard our doors knocking and we shipped some products to them, they loved it and now our products are all the way in Europe.”