“The market is wide and amazing and you find that most perfumes in the market are sourced from the Western world. So to have a brand that focuses on indigenous products is still new and something that has so much potential,” Thothe told the BBC
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the founder and creative director of home grown concept, White Label Fragrances, hoists Botswana’s flag high whenever she finds an opportunity. Thamani Thothe was recently featured in one of the world’s biggest news networks, the BBC, sharing her entrepreneurial journey in the less travelled world of manufacturing bespoke products from indigenous African ingredients.
“This feature has definitely placed a spotlight on my country and my products,” she told Time Out. “It has taken Botswana to the rest of the world. Actually, there is quite a lot of international recognition from around the world as I am constantly on Zoom calls because there are a lot of inquiries about our products. Unfortunately, we cannot currently export because borders are closed. But it is a good start.”
Thothe’s time to shine on a bigger platform was made possible through the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre’s (BITC) creatively named “PushaBW” initiative in Kasane last year. With the initiative being to showcase Botswana’s products, she interacted with a community of manufacturers, clients, and contacts that presented opportunities for her brand. “This is where I submitted a profile of my company because I heard that the BBC was looking to feature a locally grown concept on their platform,” she explained to Time Out. “They responded and early this year we prepared for the feature.”
White Label Fragrances is an African luxury niche fragrance brand that curates and blends bespoke fragrances with specially selected raw materials to suit various tastes. They have an array of products that includes body scrubs, body oils made from morula and baobab oils, male and female perfumes as well as gender-neutral perfumes. They also have a home range that includes candles and diffusers. Just recently, the brand introduced its scented candle jar from its “Lelapa X Botswana” collection. White Label Fragrances collaborated with local women from Gabane Pottery who hand-made the jars for their candles and diffusers.
“When you buy the product, you are not only buying the candle but you are buying an art piece and changing someone’s life. We also have hand sanitisers that we can deliver to your doorstep during the Coronavirus lockdown,” Thothe added.
White Label Fragrances was established in 2017 after Thothe’s father introduced her to fragrances. Naturally perfumes came as something she used as a hygiene routine every day and she was inspired to make it a routine for people from all walks of life.
“Starting this manufacturing company, I was taking something I use every day,” she enthused on the BBC. “Something that would smell like home and is produced in Africa by Africans. The market is wide and amazing and you find that most perfumes in the market are sourced from the Western world. So to have a brand that focuses on indigenous products is still new and something that has so much potential. Some of the hurdles that we face as start-ups are not having platforms to be in chain stores.”