Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
HAIR has been and still is an ornament to all daughters of Eve. Over time, women have done basically anything and everything to their hair to look good.
Amid all the effort women put to take good care of their hair, they still struggle with itchy scalp and dandruff.
In such a storm, help seems to be on its way as award-winning entrepreneur, an alumni of the highly prestigious Academy for Women Entrepreneurs and the founder of Real Hair by Lorraine Studio, Lorraine Maphala-Phiri has launched a new range of hair care products.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of her new products, a little bit of information about hair suffices. Hair is made of a tough protein called keratin and hair follicles anchor each hair into the skin.
The former Miss Zimbabwe beauty’s hair company, Real Hair by Lorraine that was founded in 2007 concentrates on real hair and wigs. Her new range of merchandise includes a quartet of products which she mentioned to Saturday Leisure.
“I recently launched four hair care products which are mainly for wig care, but are also suitable for all hair types. The full range consists of Clear hydrating Argan oil shampoo, Clear hydrating Argan oil conditioner, Instant repairing mask and Argan Hair oil.
“Our Argan hair oil is a must-have as it doubles up as a scalp treatment for those suffering from itchy scalp and dandruff,” said Maphala-Phiri while adding that her dream is to supply big retail shops such as Pick n Pay because 90 percent of women who shop there wear wigs and weaves.
She said the Real Hair by Lorraine wig care range was born after two years of research.
“After noticing most of our competitors launching natural hair care products, we saw a gap in the market because three fifths of women with natural hair wear wigs as a protective style while they grow their hair or want to switch up their look, and some wear wigs and weaves made from real hair for medical reasons.
“We then decided to come up with a hair care range for women who understand that authentic human hair wigs and weaves are an investment and must be treated as such because the longevity of this hair depends on how it is cared for.
Thus, the four hair care products we recently launched are women’s go-to products for their wig care routine.”
Yes, many people know Lorraine from her life on the ramp which began in 2003 when she registered her name for the Miss Bulawayo pageant but according to her, “Lorraine is an ordinary girl from the dusty streets of Nketa 6. She is a girl who dared to dream.”
Since establishing her hair company, she has not looked back, attributing her longevity in business to the love she has for selling hair.
“I absolutely love selling hair and educating clients on the different hair types as well as hair care. That has been my secret as well as reinvention of business. When I travelled to Tanzania for Miss Tourism World in 2006, I saw, for the first time, a Brazilian hair weave on Miss Angola.
“It was real hair and after doing some research when I came back home, I started selling it to my friends and a few women. It then grew organically from there,” said the 38-year-old entrepreneur.
Maphala-Phiri hung up her heels for the corporate world, a decision which she does not regret taking as she feels that she had run her race.
“Retiring from modelling was very easy as I feel that I had reached the highest in terms of pageantry after my reign. I had to hang my heels in order to focus fully on building my business,” she said.
The former beauty queen has not always been successful in business as her apparel enterprise, “Maphala Fashions 14” crumbled to the ground, but that was just a learning curve for her. It did not stop her from pursuing her dream of leaving a lasting legacy and footprint in the corporate world.
“I learnt to develop a thick skin in business and not to give up. I also learnt to learn as much as I can about the industry that I’m in and most importantly, to equip myself with financial literacy. That has worked like a charm to this day with my hair business.
“I feel blessed that I achieved all I achieved at the age I did. However, I believe that I haven’t arrived yet as I still have so much more I want to achieve. As I grow older, my dreams become bigger so the pursuit to my end in mind continues.”
A mother, wife and businesswoman, Lorraine must have her hands full but she believes prioritising does the trick.
“I do what I can when I can. I also prioritise and give attention to my caps depending on the level of priority. This also goes to managing my Bulawayo branch from my base in South Africa. By God’s grace and mercy, I’ve been able to do all of this.
It’s not easy, but I continue to put in systems that enable me to manage from a distance,” she said.
It is only natural and human to miss one’s heyday, but this is a different ballgame for Lorraine. When quizzed on whether she misses the ramp, Lorraine gave a stern answer.
“In all honesty, I don’t miss modelling as I believe that there’s a time for everything. I enjoyed my time as a model so much that I don’t miss it at all now.”
Most businesspeople will tell you of how someone handheld them and taught them the ropes. To Lorraine, that person is her mentor, pageant guru Sipho Mazibuko.
“I cannot take away the fact that she planted the entrepreneurial seed in me which I have been and continue to cultivate up to now,” she said.
Did you know that Lorraine has an “SRB”? The businesswoman who is a mother to three children has a strong rural background where she was raised by her grandmother in Gwanda’s Simbuka Village. She said she only came back to the city to study and there is very little she cannot do in a rural set up, such as fetching water and firewood.
She believes that she was well-schooled in doing chores that are expected of women in a rural set-up.
From rural Gwanda to urban Bulawayo and now South Africa, Lorraine has done a lot of things and believes that her new range of hair care products is the antidote to women’s hair problems. – @eMKlass_49.