Creative solution for reusable nappies
A young Bathurst woman is playing a huge role in overcoming the nationwide problem of the disposing of used nappies for both infants and the aged.
And in the process, Candy Androliakos will be assisting the local pineapple industry and providing employment for quite a lot of people.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Androliakos left the country in 1978 and moved to SA where she completed a three-year beauty therapist course.
She started her working life at the then well-known Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg, before she moved to the also upmarket Royal Hotel in Durban.
It was here that she met many famous people and government officials.
Androliakos then moved to Botswana in 2002, where she was employed to open a health spa in Gaberone and worked for the famous Khama family for 10 years. At the time, Ian Khama was the vice-president of Botswana.
After 10 years, Androliakos was persuaded by a friend to settle in Bathurst, where she bought her own property and started working at the nearby St Francis Health Centre.
But she had the urge to work for herself and opened her own salon in Port Alfred, though still contracted to the health centre.
At the same time, there was a need for a therapist at Settlers Park Retirement Village, and she soon became popular among the residents.
And so it was during her visits to the village that she became aware that there was a real need for cheaper and more biodegradable adult nappies.
“The nappies in use now are extremely expensive and I know of one man who has been spending up to R7,000 a year on these. Others were using them for longer than they should, which is not healthy,” she said.
The other major problem was that disposable nappies could take between 500 and 800 years to decompose completely, she said.
And so Androliakos started looking at ways to make cheaper ones. Her idea was to develop and produce washable nappies that would also be eco-friendly.
She started experimenting with different materials, resulting in a lot of trial and error. Then one day she saw a billboard outside the Big Pineapple near Bathurst displaying the different uses for the leaf of pineapples.
This gave her the idea of the possibility of using this material in her nappies and she made contact with now retired well-known pineapple farmer Brian Linforth, who supplied her with dried pulp fibre from pineapple leaves.
She had this tested for bacteria and it was found to be safe and suitable.
Androliakos obviously needed someone to start making the underwear into which this fibre is fitted, and found a willing hand in Kleinemonde resident Sarah Oberholzer. Though still in its relatively early stages, the product has already proved successful and is being supplied in Settlers Park, Leach Pharmacy and along the Garden Route.
“The big advantage of these nappies is that they are washable and obviously reusable, resulting in them being a big cost saver. They also solve the problem of disposing of them,” she said.
She is also producing sanitary towels and is looking at manufacturing both chair and bed protectors.
With her business growing, Androliakos obviously requires a larger producer and has lined up a factory in East London where her products will be manufactured next year.
This means that more people will hopefully be employed, as well as on the pineapple farms.
Androlikos has also linked up with a government organisation, Innovationhubb, in Pretoria, which has undertaken to assist her financially.
“I am very excited about this and am confident this will help my business grow next year,” she added.
She has registered a patent for her products and operates under the name of Leafline Sanitary Wear.