In this interview we find out more about Wendy Radebe de Kock (Owner/Founder of Langa Lahko), her business journey and why she believes South Africa should support small business.
Wendy shares how Langa Lakho creates unique hair, skin, nails, beard, eye lashes and other natural beauty care solutions. She says that some of their unique products incluce iMphepho soap (Helichrysum), and mixes of essential oils and shea butters for skin, hair, and face treatments.
Why did you start your business?
Six years ago, before I had officially launched the business, the idea for Langa Lakho began when I went into training to become a traditional healer. At the time I could not be touched on my head, and had to find homemade solutions for growing dreadlocks, for example. This means the business literally started as a passion, and as a solution for my hair and beauty needs. I often joke with clients and friends that my business started in the kitchen! Over time family and friends saw the results of my products, and gradually I got more clients.
In 2019 I left the banking sector, after twenty-five years, which was then also the moment to officially launch Langa Lakho, with its range of locally made, natural products.
What do you love the most about running your business?
What I love most is networking and interacting with people and clients. In this way I stay up to date on people’s every day beauty care needs. I like to provide personalised solutions for clients, and to educate them on natural solutions. It is also great to have the opportunity to train people with regard to the products and to provide advice that often changes lives in a positive way.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learnt on your business journey?
There are several lessons I have learnt on my business journey. One of them is that people do not take the time to deal with their personal beauty challenges, and too easily go for artificial, chemical, or plastic solutions (like false lashes, nails etc). Langa Lakho’s natural ingredients provide solutions to grow your own.
Another challenge, especially for a start-up business in this sector, is to find retail outlets willing to accommodate a new brand, and its solutions on their shelves. Our products can be used by all the diverse skin and hair types of the ‘Rainbow Nation’. This means that we offer solutions to any, and all people looking for affordable, natural, beauty solutions.
What I also love about my business is the diversity of the range of products we have developed. Currently we have thirty one (31) products, including soaps, shampoo, hair sprays & treatments, shea butter products for hair, skin and face, nail treatment, beard oil and eyebrow & lashes treatment.
What is your why? Why do you do what you do and what do you focus on to help you persevere and get through tough times?
As a traditional healer I was trained in the use of natural plant-based medicines. This knowledge and background helped me to understand the importance of nature as the first port of call when looking for solutions to skin, hair, or other beauty needs. Finding solutions through unique mixes, and applications is my why.
Langa Lakho has also been developing a hydroponic growth system for vegetables, as a solution for food security. We converted our home in Johannesburg into an urban farm (with several hydroponic systems). This is where we also grow some of the inputs, such as iMphepho (Helichrysum), that goes into one of our soaps. You can be sure that Langa Lakho products only use natural ingredients, and some of them are home grown.
Why should South Africa support small businesses now and beyond?
Small business owners are innovators, contributing to the development of not only the economy, but society. As noted above, access to market, and creating market awareness of a new brand (and its solutions) remains a major challenge. Small business growth can be enhanced and supported in more significant ways by a change of mindset among consumers, and major retail outlets in South Africa.
Langa Lakho manufactures, and supplies the hydroponic systems to clients (for home, or larger ‘industrial agro-industry applications’), and believes it necessary to enhance food security, and develop local skills for urban, and small-scale intensive farming. Over time, we have sourced locally pressed oils, and inputs from growers and entrepreneurs in Limpopo province, and Kwazulu-Natal. Langa Lakho encourages urban and rural growers to focus on indigenous medicinal plants that provide health solutions.