From its humble beginnings 15 years ago at the kitchen table of founder Renchia Droganis, Africology has grown into South Africa’s leading natural and ethical skincare brand and is quickly spreading its wings across the globe. But it’s not its kitchen table origins that sets Africology apart — it’s the fact that the company was born out of a desire to help heal the wounds inflicted on Africa by apartheid. Renchia’s background as a counsellor and therapist involved working with victims of apartheid to support them in finding the strength to testify in court. She worked for an organisation that not only helped people who had grown up without an education learn to read and write, but gave them a chance to heal past pain and nurture a healthy self-esteem and this is what Renchia focused on during her counselling sessions. She began to research plant extracts, aromatherapy and formulations so that she could create bespoke skincare products for her clients — mixing essential oils to help them according to their physical and emotional needs.
“I wanted to capture the healing essences of Africa,” she says. “It was, and still is, my intention that Africology products should deliver a message of wellbeing — not just on a physical level, but on a spiritual one too.” Today, Renchia still uses her intuitive ability to select herbs, plants and oils for her formulations and now grows many of the ingredients used in Africology products on her own farm. Lavender and roses are grown there, together with ingredients indigenous to Africa, including aloe ferox, rooibos, marula and African potato. What started as a desire to help people affected by the cruelties of apartheid has grown into a successful, ethical and cruelty-free brand that supports fair trade and local communities in Africa while giving the world the benefits of its therapeutic skincare.
GOGO OLIVE KNITS
Gogo Olive started as a simple vision of a group of women singing and laughing together while creating things with their hands, originally set up in late 2008 as a response to the huge unemployment problem in Zimbabwe and at a time when conditions in the country were particularly difficult. As well as creating employment for local women the aim is to give them hope as they have the opportunity to use their craft skills to build a future for themselves and their families. Knitting was chosen as it only requires basic materials and can be done anywhere and at anytime.
Gogo Olive began as a small group of 6 women and following the success of this group has expanded to involve more ladies and work alongside different groups to try and support as many women as possible. The aim is to identify those who are most in need. There are now around 60 knitters from four different projects in 3 different areas of Zimbabwe.
Dorthe Mailil, is a Danish designer and illustrator living and working in Herning, Denmark. She is the Creative Director behind Maileg, a charming brand of toys that merge modern Scandinavian design with storybook whimsy and meticulous attention to detail.
Dorthe’s passion for design began at a young age, leading her to enroll in the prestigious Danish Design School in 1996 to pursue a career in graphic design. Dorthe also supplemented her education with studies at L’ecole D’art de Marseille and Paris, which she cites as contributing to the inspiration behind many of the sweet and nostalgic details that define the Maileg brand.
Dorthe and her husband Erik founded Maileg in 1999 - combining their last name “Mailil” with the “leg”, the Danish word for play. In a busy world of bright lights, bells and whistles, where new stories are continually impressed upon us… Maileg is a world in which matchboxes can be beds for mice; princesses make perfect teatime companions; and adventures can be found on a friendly forest walk. It is a world where cats and mice are friends.
Maileg (pronounced My’lye) is a brand of charming Danish-designed toys created to inspire our children’s favorite playtime stories. By bringing storybook whimsy to everyday moments, Maileg toys help children explore the pure and simple wonder of imagination. Beloved for their heartwarming personalities, Maileg toys show playfulness and charm in every last detail. Theirs is a timeless world filled with beautiful accessories and settings to be collected, cherished and shared with friends and family for generations.
MarMar's founder Marlene Anine Holmboe studied fashion at the Danish Design College, after which she designed childrenswear for numerous brands before creating her own label MarMar Copenhagen in 2008. Marlene is a mother of three.
The brand considers the environment in the production of all their clothes which are made in eco-text certified fabrics, and are manufactured as close to Europe as possible in order to minimize transportation and protect the environment.
MarMar Copenhagen is about high quality, classic and cool children's clothes in an intentionally muted style. The collections created by MarMar Copenhagen get their unique look from the brand's play on contrasts: city and countryside, old and new, luxury and everyday life. These contrasts are what gives the clothing its unique look and that also makes it possible to wear in so many different ways. Another important factor for MarMar Copenhagen’s fashion is comfort - according to them, all children should be allowed to explore the world freely and in their own way, without any limitations.
Nuukk was founded in 2011 by Andrea Hild in Berlin.
Initially the focus was on fine stationery, over the years, more and more home decor products joined it. The illustrations are all created in her Kreuzberg studio.
Nuukk attaches great importance to sustainability. This is reflected, on the one hand, in the choice of materials (recycled paper stationery, organic cotton baby products and BPA-free bamboo crockery). In addition, nuukk cooperates with a Berlin handicapped workshop. Here people with disabilities, but also with psycho-social impairments find opportunities for education and employment.
PHOENIX AND THE LLAMA
Candi Jordan, Creator & Director of Phoenix & the Llama initially started the label back in 2012 whilst living in London and on maternity leave, hand sewing unique pieces in unusual fabrics. Before leaving the UK to return to live in South Africa, Candi and her family took some time out to go travelling and it was on this journey of discovery that she found the inspiration for many of her creations, namely in Mexico where the influence is still evident in many of her pieces.
"Most Phoenix & the Llama items are completely handmade by myself, with the occasional assistance of my lovely seamstress for larger volumes. We strive to empower South Africans and use only the highest quality fabrics. From concept to creation, time and care is invested in each garment and accessory, using handpicked fabrics and edgy prints that come to life in statement designs.
I feel a strong need to break the stereotypical mould of ‘Pink and Blue’. Skulls on a baby?! Little girls wearing black? It sounds so wrong but if worn with mega attitude it can be so right! Times have changed, people are challenging the status quo and parents want their kids to stand out, not blend in. My kids inspire me every day and I love coming up with unusual ideas and encouraging others to be completely different and unique. The brand has a story behind it and the hand crafted products are truly special."
Behind Spiritgirl are Leigh and Rochele, two fun-loving, active South African girls with a sense of adventure and an eco-awareness for the world around us. Proud to call the vibrant city of Cape Town home, their passion for design, nurture for nature and love of an active lifestyle brought them together to form Spiritgirl to create eco friendly, custom designed yoga pants.
“We would like our pants to inspire people to live a spirited lifestyle. Help them feel free to express themselves and shine brightly to the world. Our very own designs are inspired by our travels, respect for other spiritual beliefs and love of nature. We print beautiful designs onto our fabric that are bright, colourful and fun. They remind us never to take ourselves too seriously and motivate us to get out there and enjoy life”.
The Spiritgirl ethos is to maintain a healthy, balanced and spirited life. It’s difficult to find balance these days and we hope to encourage women out there to enjoy exercise and to feel great about themselves. Using recycled PET, a product made from recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, we are aiming to achieve what we can do to minimize the impact on the environment and to benefit humanity. Fabric processing of recycled polyester is similar to fabrics made from virgin polyester yarns. Product performance is equivalent or even superior to virgin products. The recycled PET is woven with spandex to create a COOLMAX® performance fabric, resulting in the ultimate workout pants that are breathable, comfortable, moisture wicking and quick drying. This product reduces the need for landfill space, demand for dyes and fixing agents, demand on oil, every 1 ton of recycled PET yarn can save 6 tons oil, resulting in less pollution and energy savings (more than 80% than virgin products).