By Nerissa Card

 

So you’re in your mid-30s, living in Joburg and working for a big retail company when you come to the realisation that you no longer want to be part of the rat race.

What do you do?

Take a huge leap of faith, sell up everything and move to the Midlands.

That’s Katherine and John Morrow’s story, in a nutshell.

Katherine owns Earthica, a natural skincare product range. I popped in to visit her to find out more. What I found was a woman who is totally focused on lowering her impact on the environment.

Born in Durban, Katherine moved to Joburg in 2000, where, after more than a decade in retail procurement, it “all just got too much”.

“Joburg is a big city, not the friendliest of places, and we needed a change. I didn’t want to be part of the capitalist machine, watching the amount of product that was being ploughed into the retail industry.

Others make it work

“When you start to develop a more eco mind, you realise it is not right. Technically I am still doing retail, but it is not at all the same thing.

“I knew Rosetta from holidaying in the Midlands as a child and, because I have family in Durban, we used to visit the area quite often while in Joburg.

“On our last holiday here John and I looked around and thought, why can’t we just live here? Other people do, they make it work.

Katherine with her son, James, 3.

“We found this piece of land, sold up everything and moved here in 2014. We had no jobs. It was a huge leap of faith. I was already making soap and planned to continue doing so. John had a few ideas, but within a few weeks he got a job managing a local brewery. Then, within a few months, I was doing markets and the business has just moved on from there.

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“It never crossed my mind to launch Earthica in Joburg.

“When we got here I started experimenting more and more with products and expanding the range.”

Katherine, who became a vegetarian at 15 and vegan shortly thereafter, hasn’t bought a commercial skincare product for years.

“In those days I started buying stuff that was natural, or at least appeared to be. The market was slim though and I was still using some commercial products.

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“Eventually my skin started reacting to everything, even toothpaste, so I scrapped all the commercial stuff and started researching oils to try to find something that worked for me.

“It took a while, but eventually the rash started going away. Some people will be fine with synthetic products for years and then suddenly they develop an intolerance to the ingredients. Just don’t expose yourself to the stuff. Find natural stuff that works for you. It’s better for you and the environment.”

Response

The Earthica range now includes soaps, shampoo bars, lip balms, body and face bars, facial oils, healing balms and crocheted soap bags and wash cloths.

In her “she shed”, Katherine single-handedly produces all the products in the range, right down to the soap bags and cloths.

Realising she needed to branch beyond markets, she recently started pushing her brand online.

“It takes time to get traction because people in this country are still so scared of online, but the response is definitely growing.”

The majority of the products she uses to produce her range are sourced locally, but she does have to import certain items which are not available in South Africa. This is a catch 22 for Katherine, but she is happy in the knowledge that she is doing her utmost to lower her carbon footprint. And for the moment the furthest she distributes is Johannesburg.

I have been using Katherine’s range for about a year. I love all her products, but my favourite at the moment is the calming oil. If you are menopausal, read on… I have pretty much sailed through this wonderful period in a middle-aged woman’s life, but I do suffer from “restless legs”. It drives me nuts, depriving me of comfort and sleep, so I recently started using the oil under my feet at night. It works like a bomb!

For more information, contact Katherine on 082 483 6415 or email earthica.mail@gmail.com.

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