Rozayne Malyo worked in a corporate setting, arranging conferences for many years. It was a 2017 medicinal marijuana conference that served as her introduction to the cannabis industry. She was so impressed that she was invited to form part of the new industry body.
“At the end of that two-day event, the representatives from the department of health asked the people who were delegates [to] put together a cannabis industry body, so we can speak with one voice,” she says.
The conference, she says, featured people from all over the industry, including private entrepreneurs, traditional healers, and members of the Rastafarian community.
“After the conference, I was actually asked to get involved in the building or setting up of this industry body, and in 2018 we actually launched what we call the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa (CDCSA). And I was elected the chairperson then. I’m currently the deputy chairperson of the CDCSA.”
Her involvement in the CDCSA opened her eyes to the various possibilities the industry holds. Malyo says most of the people in the organization were making their own products, and it made her start thinking about what she could do in the industry.
“I learned quite a lot about the different things that we can do with cannabis, and one of the things that I came across was [cannabis] cosmetics. I learned that we could make cosmetics using part of the cannabis plant. That’s how the business started.”
Malyo registered her business, called Think Green, in 2019. While her primary business is cannabis cosmetics, she also provides event management, health consultation, and cannabis business services.
“We make a wide range of products, including cold-pressed soaps. Even with the soaps, there’s a wide range [of them]. We make turmeric soaps, charcoal activated soaps and carrot soap. Coffee, oats and lavender is also available.”
The Think Green product line also includes massage oils, hair products, body creams, body scrubs, healing balms for people with arthritis, cannabis-infused tea, and even hot sauce.
“All our products are made from organic ingredients. We actually infuse our own spices, in the case of turmeric, and our own carrots, as well as use household ingredients. We also mainly focus on skin health because what we have learned is that 64% of what we put onto our bodies is actually absorbed into our skin. “
Malyo says that the main ingredient in her products is hemp seed oil. She explains that, at the moment, the products are all made in her kitchen.
“We work with what we have, and our main ingredient is hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil is derived from cannabis seeds, not from the bud. The hemp seed is cold-pressed. In the cases where we make the healing balms and the arthritis balms, we use a bud that is a bit higher in THC.”
Local producers missing from market
Like with any small business, Malyo says her journey was not entirely easy. Starting a small business is already challenging, but for her, it was particularly difficult getting access to the market.
“We have to search for events or activities that we can take part in. Already our market has been saturated by imported cannabis products. If you go to your Dis-Chem or Clicks stores, you find a lot of imported cannabis products. We have very few local brands and this is something that we are also pushing for. If we can increase our local brands, that would be everything.”
Another challenge Malyo faces is one common to small businesses: a lack of funding. “We do need that push, you know, we need that extra push to be able to compete with the international brands.”
Of course, her business journey also has its rewarding moments. What Malyo appreciates most about it is the positive customer feedback she receives about her products.
“[I’m rewarded] each time a client comes to me and tells me ‘this product really works’, or ‘it has made a difference in my life’, or ‘my skin was like this and now look at it’. The feedback that we get from our clients is the really most rewarding aspect, and this is something that keeps me pushing, keeps me getting up every morning to better my products.”
ALSO READ – Agripreneur: Meet a producer of cannabis edibles
Malyo’s advice for agripreneurs is the following:
There’s never a perfect time to start
If you have the passion and if you have the drive, just go for it.
Start from where you are right now
I started with what I had. I had the passion, I had the drive, I wanted to do this, and I looked at the market and saw there aren’t many people doing cannabis-infused cosmetics, even now.
Hard work is key
Perseverance and consistency is also important. You particularly need to be consistent once you start.
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Truth be told, in this industry, you will find people who think they know it all and they think their product is the only thing that is working, so you might get discouraged. You will learn that everybody thinks their product is the best and they look down on the next person that is working or trying to make it. So, surround yourself with like-minded people.
Opportunity is ripe now
There is a very limited amount of local brands. So, this would be a great time to start so that we can flood this market with our own brands and even start thinking of exporting.
Get Stories of Change: Inspirational stories from the people that feed Mzansi.