Nailed it! Painting your success
Barely a year after starting nail polish business Malia Nail Care, Mphela Lebo is already a good few steps up the ladder of success. The 25-year-old, based in Pretoria, had always dreamt of starting her own nail care brand.
“The business came about when I realised that I wanted something I could call my own. Something I could create and grow with, from the bottom up. With passion obviously being the driving force,” she says.
Soon after the creation of the brand in her mother’s kitchen, Lebo got her product into goodie bags at the South African Music Awards – so celebrities will be wearing Malia products.
Starting a nail care range in South Africa means competing with international brands. Lebo was aware of the challenges of distribution, breaking into markets loyal to other brands and building awareness for a new product. Using private funding, savings and the advice of different mentors, she managed to get the business going.
Making nail polish requires suspension base, clear nail polish and nail pigments for the colours. She says she worked with amazing manufacturers who included her in the process, such as for colour conceptualisation.
Her product differs from other brands. Beside being glossy, rich in colour and long-lasting, it makes use of a “3-Free formula”, so it does not contain three toxic chemicals often used in nail polish.
In terms of the nail industry and market in South Africa, Lebo says: “Nail polish is one of those products that will forever be well received. Women love what it does. There’s a therapeutic element that comes with having a great nail colour. In South Africa specifically, it’s a field that has a large market. This is evident by the amount of competition there is in the nail industry. International brands are still leading. We need to see more interest and support for local beauty brands.”
She adds: “I’d love to have a factory to create a variety of other products and expand into employing people.”
Malia nail polish is sold in collections of four (R200) or six (R280) polishes, and orders are done online on her website, malianailcare.com (going live later this month), where customers will see the colours and select their favourites for their nail polish wardrobe.
Malia Nail Care also has a purpose. Part of the sale proceeds and donations go to its One Shade at a Time initiative, providing sanitary products for girls in underprivileged areas. Follow the brand on Twitter