June 2024 1st Edition

Keeping pesty insects at bay

Written by Gabisile Ngcobo

Starting a business is about solving a problem and seeing a gap in the market. This is what Matlhasedi Spa and Body products run by Thato Poo is all about.

Poo once held the title of hotel manager and struggled to solve the problem of finding an effective insect repellent for the establishment.

The entrepreneur bug bit Poo and she decided to create her own insect repellent.

“We used to have a restaurant and host many buffets. But every time we needed to control flies it was hard and we tried all the products that were available on the market. None of the products we tried worked to our advantage,” Poo told Vuk’uzenzele.
The 32-year-old from Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, also faced challenges with suppliers of essential oils and scented candles for the hotel’s spa.

This made her realise that there was a gap in the market,  sparking an idea to design her products from scratch. 
Her bestseller products include the Matlhasedi insect-repellent balm and candles. 

Matlhasedi Spa and Body products range also include the citronella body balm, blended with lemongrass and lime scent. The balm is designed to protect against mosquitoes and provide relief from mosquito bites. 

The candles and oils also offer protection against flies, insects, and mosquitoes.

While she initially started selling her products using only WhatsApp and Instagram, the young enterprise is now part of the Checkers programme, which aims to help grow local and commercially viable small, medium, and micro enterprises. Her brand can now be found in five Checkers stores in Gauteng.

Prospective customers can also find Matlhasedi Spa and Body products on Takealot and Makro online.
Furthermore, the products are also endorsed by Proudly South African. Poo said this has have given her brand increased exposure.

Research and experiment 

Poo explained that starting Matlhasedi Spa and Body products required tenacity.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many hotels to shut down in 2020, she used the time at home to research and experiment with different ingredients.

In July 2021, she launched her first product which was the scented candles, making more than R20 000 that month.

“Whenever my candles are on and my essential oils are burning, I am 100% sure you will not have mosquitoes around you.”
She believes her unique selling point is the natural, preservative-free, and child-friendly ingredients she uses.

Poo operates from a small workshop,  employing two permanent workers and five part-time staff.

“I can do more and I would love to do more but my hands are tied. I am always trying different ideas but I cannot explore them because I need money. The more I can offer,  the more I can create jobs.”

Poo has high hopes of taking Matlhasedi Spa and Body products to the world and being a big player in solving problems around keeping pesty insects at bay.

For more information about Matlhasedi Spa and Body products call 071 909 9095 or email thatopoo@icloud.com

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