The Bulungula Essential Oils Cooperative is taking its business to a higher level by adding soap making into its existing activities. The core business of the cooperative is still the selling of dried lemongrass for tea production and essential oils distillation. Teething problems affecting the lemongrass plants such as the compromised quality of the dried lemongrass and inconsistent production levels led the cooperative to decide on diversifying the products. The soap production process is relatively easy to learn and the returns are favourable.
The expertise of Rose, Karen (from the Agricultural Research Council) and Launa Arntzen (of Sacred Nature) was sourced to train the cooperative members in distilling and soap making. The cooperative produces organic and glycerin ranges of products. Lemongrass oils are the main flavouring ingredient but there are various other oils such as rose geranium and rosemary.
In addition to soap making, the cooperative also produces bath salts, sugar scrubs, lemongrass flavoured rooibos tea and lip balm. The products are sold as individual units or as gift baskets in traditional reed baskets made by the cooperative members. The Bulungula Essential Oils Cooperative’s soaps and related products are the top selling items at the Siyakhula Shop (at Bulungula Lodge). Different markets are being explored for the products as the cooperative cannot solely rely on the shop sales. Establishments such as hotels, BnBs, backpacker lodges and supermarkets are being courted as potential markets.
So next time you visit Nqileni or get to a soap aisle, make sure you look for the ‘Made in Bulungula’ soaps.