We sit down with the founder of TheraVine® Lisa Smit and gain insight into how her TheraVine® journey started and the workings behind the scenes.
CAN YOU SHARE WITH US THE STORY BEHIND THE INCEPTION OF THERAVINE®? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THIS VENTURE, AND WHAT WERE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS AT THE BEGINNING?
The birth of TheraVine® and the story of how a self-made company grew to feature in some of South Africa and the world’s most renowned hotels and spas started after I completed my studies in Stellenbosch and became the Manageress of 2 of the only Hydro’s in South Africa at the time. I could never understand why only French products were used in these facilities and often found myself wondering why no South African brands were considered ‘good’ enough to serve these establishments. After giving birth to Jodi, my daughter, I realised my need to be in a position to work from home and began investigating the development of my own product range.
THERAVINE® HAS BECOME A PROMINENT PLAYER IN THE SKINCARE INDUSTRY. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY SETS YOUR COMPANY APART FROM OTHERS IN THE SAME FIELD?
What has sustained TheraVine® for the past 19 years and will take us through our next decade and beyond is that we have remained true to the mission that got us here. We are constantly aware that what truly sets TheraVine® apart is the fact that we built our company on heart, soul and mission and these attributes have sustained our growth and will continue to be the foundation of every avenue that the company will embrace.
THE JOURNEY OF AN ENTREPRENEUR OFTEN COMES WITH ITS SHARE OF CHALLENGES. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE MAJOR OBSTACLES YOU FACED WHILE BUILDING THERAVINE®, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
We gathered various grape by-products from different wine farms in and around the Stellenbosch areas. The by-products from these world-class grapes consists of grape seeds, grapeseed extracts, husks, grapeseed oil and vine leaf extracts and form part of our unique South African healing processes. The biggest ‘hurdle’ however in working with grape by-products, was to stabilise the formulations and prevent oxidation. After many years of research and development, we finally managed to accomplish a brand that was stable enough to launch into the market.
INNOVATION PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THE SUCCESS OF ANY BUSINESS. HOW DO YOU FOSTER A CULTURE OF INNOVATION WITHIN THERAVINE®, AND WHAT ROLE HAS IT PLAYED IN THE COMPANY'S GROWTH?
When I started this journey all those years ago, I never began to think this is where we will be today. One does not start something like this for recognition. To me, it was about changing the perception that local can’t be good enough. I wanted quality, excellence and most of all to be unique.
Having grown up in a strong entrepreneurial family, I knew that, in order for my products to be successful, I needed a 'point of difference' from other product brands across the world. Growing up amongst the vineyards of Stellenbosch, I then investigated the addition of grapes and their by-products to form our ‘marketing' point of difference.
SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS ARE BECOMING INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT IN THE SKINCARE WORLD. HOW DOES THERAVINE® INTEGRATE ECO-FRIENDLY PRACTICES INTO ITS OPERATIONS, AND WHY IS THIS A PRIORITY FOR YOUR COMPANY?
LS Enterprises aims to minimise environmental impact in all areas of business, whilst maintaining the highest levels of quality. It is our joint responsibility to care for our planet. We assess the environmental impact of any new processes or products we introduce.
All our ingredients are sourced from reputable suppliers across the world who make it their business to strive to ensure the sustainability of plants and species from which their ingredients are sourced. The resulting ingredients are grown, processed, and distributed in such a way that they do not harm the environment.
We evaluate each supplier’s sustainability in eco-friendly efforts. We support companies and ingredients that have received eco-friendly awards. As an example, one of our many suppliers has developed a novel plant cell culture technology that enables the large-scale cultivation of callus cells from rare and protected plant species.
Packaging is recyclable, where end users are encouraged to recycle items after use based on the appropriate logos on the packaging and recycling initiatives in their areas. Paper-based materials are obtained from sustainable sources that are FSC (Forestry Services Council) approved, meaning the paper is derived from forests that are sustainable and regenerated. This is an international environment standard. Paper products are recyclable. Sustainable vegetable-based inks are used in printing processes. Retail products are not wrapped in heat-sealed plastic or cellophane film. All required product information is contained on the outer retail box, we also do not add inserts.
We continue striving to work with ingredients that are biodegradable. Formulation development is an ongoing process in this regard.
IT'S TRULY INSPIRING TO SEE THE STRONG FAMILY INVOLVEMENT IN THERAVINE®'S OPERATIONS. COULD YOU SHARE WITH US HOW WORKING WITH YOUR HUSBAND, SHANE, AND DAUGHTER, JODI, HAS IMPACTED THE COMPANY'S CULTURE AND DYNAMICS, AND HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BALANCE BETWEEN FAMILY AND BUSINESS RESPONSIBILITIES?
It was never the idea that Shane would join in the company, but as a result of our rapid growth by mid-2006, he joined me to help steer the company, focusing on financial, operational and quality management and hasn’t looked back since.
I never expected Jodi to also be as passionate about the industry as I was and therefore also choosing this career avenue, but it was extremely rewarding to be able to mentor her while she obtained her Cosmetic Chemistry qualification and to get to work with her so closely.
I know Shane and I are very blessed to be able to work in such close proximity – essentially, we both have our areas of expertise and I think that because we each focus on different aspects of the business, we get to maintain a good balance.
AS A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR, YOUR JOURNEY CAN BE INSPIRING TO MANY. HAVE YOU EVER FACED MOMENTS OF DOUBT OR FELT OVERWHELMED, AND HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED DURING CHALLENGING TIMES?
Unfortunately, for every victory, there are multiple obstacles and yes, you sometimes feel like giving up but because of the group of employees that count on us and that I care for like my own family, that just isn’t an option. The sooner you make your peace with how business works and even more so when you export and have multiple criteria to abide by, the less demotivated you’ll feel when complications strike.
LOOKING AHEAD, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EXCITING PROJECTS OR DEVELOPMENTS ON THE HORIZON FOR THERAVINE®? ANY EXCLUSIVE ANNOUNCEMENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
We anticipate quite a few additions that were recently concluded to still join the product selection this year, some of which have been in the making for 2 and 3 years respectively and that will be entirely new concepts to our product offering.
AS A SUCCESSFUL FOUNDER, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN VENTURES IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET?
Remain true to your vision, work hard, and don’t take anything that happens in your business operation, personally.