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My Story: Linda Gieskes-Mwamba founder of Suki Suki Naturals

A former lawyer turned entrepreneur, Linda, is the CEO and originator behind Suki Suki Naturals and is making her mark in the South African haircare and beauty industry specialising in all things natural.

Confidence is the foundation for a woman’s beauty. It allows her to accept herself and to work with all her flaws and qualities. I believe that beauty products should never work to conceal what you dislike about yourself, but should rather accentuate and emphasise what you love about yourself. I’ve seen so much of acceptance of ourselves as African women over the last decade - not trying to compare ourselves to anyone and really embracing all the good and (sometimes the bad) of having curly and kinky hair. This acceptance has forced the haircare industry to provide us with products that cultivate this beauty.

Suki Suki Naturals is unique because it isn’t just a natural haircare and skincare brand, it embodies a modern African brand that brings underused traditional ingredients together and combines them with scientifically researched formulas. We believe that a natural product is great, but a naturally potent product is even better. Mother Nature has extraordinary ingredients and we celebrate it by using various ingredients predominantly from the African continent like Prickly Pear Seed Oil and Inca Inchi Oil from Peru. 

Photography: Sara de Pina

My involvement within the haircare industry began when I decided to grow my hair into an afro back in 2010. For approximately four years, I dabbled in mixing Ayurvedic ingredients to care for my hair and as it grew healthy, my friends and family wanted me to share my concoctions with them. It was at this point that I realised how popular my mixtures were and the idea of turning my passion for natural beauty into profit emanated.

Photography: Sara de Pina

The story behind the brand’s name involves positive universal meanings. “Suki” means “hair” in Lingala, one of the local languages from my birth country, The Democratic Republic of Congo. In Hindi, it means “happiness” and in Japanese it means “to be fond of”and with the word having a range of significant meanings, I couldn’t resist including it twice in our name.

In terms of my career shift,I always believed that I would be able to balance a career in Law and being the entrepreneur behind Suki Suki Naturals. However, the business grew so quickly from its establishment in 2014 that it required more time than I initially allocated for and juggling both careers was becoming increasingly difficult. I decided to leave Law in February 2017 as I felt that the business needed my full attention, giving it half of my time was thwarting its growth. I always felt happiest when I was working on it and although I enjoyed practicing law, I decided to give my brand a proper shot because failure was not an option for me. Having a legal mind is extremely beneficial in business because Lawyers always think of the worst-case scenario should things not go according to plan. One cannot predict everything, but having that mind set mitigates many losses.

Photography: Sara de Pina

The best advice I have ever received is to Bloom where you are planted. It’s important to start where you are, even if you have limited resources. This will build your character and it allows you to take on more responsibilities as the business grows. With the intention to thrive, I will carry this advice with me throughout my future endeavours because by 2030, I see myself running a multi-national African haircare and skincare brand that celebrates all African beauty and biodiversity.

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