Nilotiqa, a proudly South African hair care brand known for its nourishing, plant-based formulas, has a fresh new look. The local favourite, which celebrates natural hair in all its forms, aims to keep hair as healthy as possible, and offers products suitable for natural hair, hair in protective styles and hair that is undergoing transition. 

What can you expect from the new packaging?

Inspired by the incredible ingredients sourced in South Africa and Africa, Nilotiqa utilises rich African colours of orange, brown, gold and green in the new packaging. This unique colour combination is bold and unlike anything else you might find on the shelves, making it instantly recognizable.

To celebrate the use of African ingredients, the new packaging features the words Shea & Coco written in a free-flowing font, which alludes to the natural ingredients in the products. The products now also feature certification logos on the back, not only to reinforce their efficacy-driven ethos and science-driven claims, but also to offer consumers transparency.

The luxurious new packaging is true to the luxurious nature of the products. Keep an eye out for the new-look range on shelves from mid June 2022. 

Nilotiqa founder and all-round natural hair care enthusiast, Thokozile Mangwiro, gives us some insight into the brand’s journey thus far:

You have an impressive resume, and plenty of corporate experience. What made you decide to leave the corporate world to create your own hair care brand?

“Creating Nilotiqa was more of a necessity than just starting a brand. I had struggled with my natural hair, which I started growing from high school, for 14/15 years. While working in corporate, I started looking for solutions for my very dry hair. There were no hair products that were made for my type of hair; products that could nourish and really moisturise my hair. 

Noticing that there was a huge gap in the market, I met up with a formulator to start formulating products that would ‘work’ on my hair. This process started in 2014 and in 2016 I launched beautiful products that were so moisturising and really worked! I knew that I had to get these products into as many hands that struggled with dry hair as I did.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of creating the Nilotiqa brand?

“I started researching ingredients that would moisturise my hair, when I quickly realised that raw ingredients were not penetrating my hair strands. I worked with a formulator for about two years to create products that felt and smelled good. I then sourced the packaging (travelling all over JHB to find bottles and lids) and created the label designs myself and found a labelling company to print the labels. I eventually launched Nilotiqa through a Shopify website and registered with a delivery service.”

How far into the journey did your partnership with Sunpac come about?

“We partnered up with Sunpac a few months before Nilotiqa turned 6. We had been in the retail space for 4 years. The back story to this partnership is that we met Sunpac a year before we partnered up. I would say, the stars had not quiet aligned yet. When we met again a year later, it was definitely perfect timing and the perfect fit for both businesses.”

Who is the typical Nilotiqa customer? 

“I typically split the Nilotiqa customer into two:

a.       A busy working mom who loves to give her hair all the TLC, but does not have time to take the whole day for hair wash day. She wants products that work fairly quickly and make her feel amazing without too much effort.

b.      A very educated consumer, who wants clean ingredients in her products. They do not want chemicals in their products and are aware of #greenbeauty as being part of their regimen.”

What sets Nilotiqa apart from other hair care brands?

“As black women with natural hair, we’ve all come face to face with the uncomfortable and often embarrassing question of ‘So when will you do your hair?’ Because our hair is not considered ‘done’ when it is in its natural state. This is a perception that has formed a huge part of our relationship with our hair.

Where most products aimed at black women speak to how to curl and style your hair, and offer you many ways to alter the structure of your hair, I wanted to create a product that was specifically suited for my type of hair; not to change it but to keep it in its healthiest form.

Through our research we found that African hair is characterized by kinky curls and grows closer to the scalp. It is the structure of the hair that makes it challenging for the hair’s natural oils to travel down the hair strands to its tips. Nilotiqa is the solution to maintaining hair’s natural moisture. 

Nilotiqa isn’t selling black women dreams about how it’ll change their hair to something so different they won’t recognize themselves. It is offering a solution which allows them a way to retain the moisture that their hair requires for healthy maintenance and growth, which is often tarnished by the use of inorganic products and many years of use of harmful products aimed at altering the form of our already beautiful hair.

Whether you wear a weave or braids, Nilotiqa is aimed at keeping what is beneath, which is your natural hair, in its healthiest state.”

What have been some of your biggest challenges and your biggest successes?

“Biggest successes:

–          First purchase of a Nilotiqa product online

–          Launching into Clicks in 2018

–          Partnering with Sunpac

Biggest challenges:

–          A lack of resources (staff and funds) and knowledge of how retail works, can kill your business. You could be spending money ineffectively and watch your business fall apart. Surrounding yourselves with people that know better than you is a game changer.

–          Trying to run the business with a small team proved to be more challenging that ever expected.

–          Expanding to the other retail houses was a great milestone, but without the correct resources, cash flow can be huge issue!”

If you could share some insights or tips for other young women in SA who want to become entrepreneurs, what would you say?

“Do not be deterred by failure. Failure will constantly guide you to gain clarity and a better understanding of the business you are building. Do not be afraid to learn new things daily. Put yourself out there, even if you are criticized about the business you are building. Show that you believe in your vision and more importantly, yourself! Have a dynamic vision. At times you will forget why you are taking such a difficult path. If there is a vision to building your business, it will allow you to not give up even when daily challenges wear you out.

Some tips:

–          Test your market before launching your product;

–          Prepare to make some sacrifices;

–          Focus on making your product amazing and offer that to your customer;

–          Remain persistent and do not take the NOs that count. Not all NOs are the same;

–          Just start. Start and learn as you build you ship.”

What’s next for Nilotiqa?

“The mission still remains. Create beautiful personal care products and place them into as many hands as possible. I want to see Nilotiqa firmly on retail shelves across Southern Africa and Africa. I want to see Nilotiqa as a Pan African Brand reaching international retail shelves and standing firmly among competitors. I want this high quality brand to be an enjoyed household brand.”

Shop Nilotiqa products at selected Clicks, Dis-Chem & Pick n Pay stores.  

Learn more at https://www.nilotiqa.com/

Facebook: @nilotiqa

Instagram: @nilotiqa

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