By Libby Peacock

Growing up in a community “where hair seemed to always be a topic of conversation”, sisters Jo-Ann and Berenice Slater of Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, found that their “hair challenges, misconceptions and even prejudices” were sparked at an early age.

While their mom had long, wavy hair (type 2b hair in industry speak), the two had tight curls or coils (type 3b, and type 3c to 4a) respectively, recalls Jo-Ann, who now goes by her married surname of Stanley.

“We wrestled with the difference, wishing we had mum’s ‘straight’ hair, but she always handled it with such poise and grace – never, ever making us feel or believe that the curlier hair types were ‘inferior’ to the straighter types.

“We rocked the coolest hairstyles and protective looks [which minimise physical or chemical manipulation of the hair] like braids and buns. She educated us as far as she could and encouraged us to love our crowns.”

However, when double tragedy struck and the sisters lost another sister and later their beloved mother, the trauma sparked serious problems with their hair, says Stanley. “We struggled with stressed, breaking hair and with our haircare regimen.”

Owners of Haircelerate Berenice and Jo-Ann Slater

Owners of Haircelerate: Berenice and Jo-Ann Slater

After much research into hair growth and the use of supplements, Berenice (a chartered accountant – both sisters still have full-time careers) found a solution, which also triggered the idea for their haircare brand. Haircelerate was born in September 2018 and based on caring for hair “from the inside out”.

This solution – using vitamin supplements to aid natural hair growth – also ties in with South Africa’s general “hair revolution”, which is all about embracing your natural hair, says Johannesburg-based Stanley, a diagnostic medical sonographer and radiographer.

She explains that local hair types range from 1a to 4c – from very straight to tight coils – and that the ideal products for each hair type vary in terms of density and ingredients.

As South Africans have become more aware of these issues, more local and natural brands that are suited for local hair are starting up, she says.

A growing local market
The South African haircare market will reportedly be worth just under US$500-million by 2024, according to a Gordon Institute of Business Science article quoting market researcher Mordor Intelligence. Stanley acknowledges that the competition is stiff in this fast-growing sector, with consumers “definitely” starting to trust homegrown brands more.

The sisters’ own small business is certainly homegrown. “Our family name is Slater. We’re known by friends and neighbours in our hometown as ‘the Slater sisters’, and we’ve incorporated this into our business name, SlaterCo,” says Stanley. “This is very personal to us and a fitting way to carry on our family name.”

Last year, Haircelerate was chosen as one of 12 deserving small businesses promoted through insurer Hollard’s Big Ads for Small Business campaign, which aims to promote and grow promising South African SMMEs in challenging times.

Stanley says, “The campaign helped to get our brand and name out there. We saw an increase in enquiries and sales, and one of the major milestones was the successful launch in April of our shampoo and conditioner. We’re truly grateful for the opportunity … The feedback has been incredible.”

Another highlight for the sisters was being contacted by Old Mutual to do a presentation for Women’s Month, leading to new clients and sales.

After starting out with just one product – Haircelerate Vitamins – the siblings have added a product to their range every year since 2018.

Quality – in terms of products and service – is very important to the pair, and they credit this as the key to their success. “We honour mum by staying true to the values she instilled and letting those values guide us in business and otherwise.”

Haircelerate products are suitable for all hair types, she stresses. “However, we emphasise the importance of formulating our products so they’re suitable for the natural hair journey. We have ensured that our products are in their most natural form possible and have no harmful properties and chemicals …

Education is key, Stanley believes – different hair textures and types require different haircare regimens and techniques.

The past two-and-a-half years have been challenging for most small businesses in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and infrastructure problems. But Haircelerate has not only survived but thrived, thanks to their never-say-die commitment.

“Tomorrow is promised to no one, so take on the tasks that seem impossible and create further opportunity,” concludes Stanley.

Read more about Haircelerate here:
Website: https://haircelerate.co.za/, or watch here.
Facebook Page: Haircelerate
Instagram: @Haircelerate
Twitter: @Haircelerate

About Hollard:
Established in 1980, the Hollard Insurance Group (“Hollard”) provides short-term and life insurance as well as investment products to a diverse customer base including individual consumers, commercial entities, and corporate clients. It ranks among a growing number of companies advocating an inclusive growth model, measuring its social dividends as well as its contribution to shareholders. Hollard’s organisational Purpose is to enable more people to create and secure a better future.

Hollard South Africa and Hollard International wrote a combined premium income in excess of R25-billion in the year to June 2019 across short-term and life insurance operations in 11 countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Since inception, partnership has been at the heart of its business model, with the group today boasting over 100 ventures across the insurance value chain. Each one demonstrates the Hollard belief that there is always a better way and the idea of “win-win-win”, whereby Hollard, the partner and the consumer all win through this spirit of collaboration and co-creation.

Find out more about the campaign and the small businesses being promoted here and watch the campaign videos featuring the SMMEs here. #BigAdsForSmallBusiness #BetterFutures

Issued by Flow Communications on behalf of Hollard