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More than skin deep

Nov 28, 2019 | REAL|People

Luxury skincare brand Afari celebrates local and gives back


Luxury skincare brands made locally are few and far between. Those that involve the community and celebrate local resources even fewer. Which is why the launch of Afari is big news.

Founded by former beauty editor and entrepreneur Margaux Knuppe, it’s a groundbreaking concept designed for time-strapped women who want to address ageing concerns without an unnecessarily complicated regimen. Her entrepreneurial nature saw her launching Rubybox after she left publishing, which she subsequently sold. And then a hike along the Fynbos Trail prompted a journey of discovery, which led to the launch of Afari, with which she aims to address the gap left by the absence of anyone playing in the premium skincare field locally. She gave us the backstory.

What inspired the use of the core ingredient Bulbine frutescens?

After I did the Fynbos Trail I started thinking about the untapped resource in the thousands of species of fynbos we have in South Africa. I knew there had to be more than just rooibos or buchu and wanted to find a new ingredient that has special properties.

What was involved in the research process?

I wanted to find an indigenous fynbos species with anti ageing benefits – which was a two-year process, which involved consulting a phytochemist at WITS, as well as approaching many people who told me I was mad and that it was a needle in a haystack I was looking for. The search ultimately led to my now supplier and partner – my former business partner had a friend in Limpopo, a farmer who was growing an aloe species and she put me in touch with him. I later discovered this raw ingredient was coincidentally being trialed by a German company for its potential use in beauty products and so had been tested for its viability. But traditional African healers have been using it for its properties for generations.

What did you want to achieve?

Primarily, I wanted to create a range that was luxurious but simple – essentially I designed a range I would want to use myself: easy products to combat ageing. My brief to the cosmetic chemist was that all the needs of time-poor women needed to be addressed by a maximum of four products.

How did your experience in beauty prepare you for the process?

My time doing products development for Rubybox and many years as a beauty editor gave me the experience to know what works, what’s involved in product development, even how to package the product (an airless pump was no brainer as glass pots oxidise the product for example). I also knew that there were certain key products we needed to offer – a cleanser, serum, day cream and night cream. But I also wanted them to do more and work harder – so the cleanser for example also acts as a primer.

Who can use it?

While it was developed for its anti ageing benefits, it also amazing for problem skin prone to rosacea, acne etc. So anyone can use it.

The brand has a big community focus. Tell us about that?

One of the main criteria was that the brand needed to give back – skincare with a conscience. My goal was to be able to help 100 women through Afari. And as the process unfolded, and we found our core ingredient and partner in Limpopo, that opportunity presented itself – the farm where the main ingredient is grown and harvested employs primarily women, and a portion of the proceeds of sales go back into a trust for them. How I see it is that if someone can afford to pay a premium for luxury products, it should also benefit people.


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