Beauty & Fashion

A tradition of lore

A tradition of lore

Wendy Sippel’s delicate frame belies the determined spirit that makes this passionate nature child tick. Although born in Pretoria, she has been in the Lowveld so long that it has always been home.

Wendy’s beautiful residence on the outskirts of Mbombela at Alkmaar is perfectly suited to her artistic and earthy way of life; nothing makes her happier than to be pottering around in the garden or walking up the mountain.
Her affinity with natural ways means that she – and her family before her – has always turned towards Mother Earth for inspiration, and many of the items they use on their skin are based on family recipes.

“Everything we make is gentle on the earth, gentle on the skin and does no harm to animals. And we don’t use anything that needs testing,” Wendy smiles, “the only animals we test on are the human ones.”
This love of creating lotions and potions that work effectively and yet are not harmful, led to the creation of Crafted Cosmetics, which she started in conjunction with Elizabeth Tristram, her daughter. Megan Pansegrouw joined not long after and is currently the managing director.

The company focuses on the need for natural items which don’t contain dangerous preservatives or detergents. “All our products are free of sodium lauryl ether sulfate and parabens,” Wendy explains. “We also use botanicals wherever possible, like African ginger for example.
“Because this rhizome is endangered, we have started to grow our own with great success, along with pepper bark.” She breaks open a wizened piece of last year’s turmeric and the deep ochre colour immediately brings to mind the sun as it sets behind the mountain, or swirling custard cream. Rubbing hibiscus and frankincense between her fingers, her enthusiasm and love of her ingredients show.

Wendy started out as an English teacher, but when she got married she brought her family’s great love of tradition and lore with her, and she has been putting her remedies together and using them on herself since an early age.
“Plants and planting have always been a large part of my life,” she smiles fondly, “and I grew up on home-made herbals and plant remedies; we don’t use anything that irritates the skin in any way. Like me, my mother and grandparents were all of a witchy nature, and we still use my grandmother’s herbal recipes today. Most of mine are tweaked versions of hers, for example, the room spray which is made with witch hazel and bay rum is an absolute winner.”

The notion of selling came about when the family were all working towards creating art to sell at a local craft market, and Elizabeth suggested she pot some of her products and sell them. They were a runaway success.
Keabetswe Mogode, known as Kea, is Wendy’s production manager and right-hand gal. She started working at Crafted Cosmetics in March last year and is like a fish in water. Within three weeks she knew everything there was to know, and she now creates all the items herself, using her employer’s recipes.

While she does not necessarily want to grow the range, ultimately Wendy would like to expand the production side in that Kea would oversee a group of unemployed women, empowering them with a new skill. “We will definitely keep it a boutique line though,” she stresses. “We have no interest in going too big and having to churn out mass-produced items, that just isn’t our philosophy.”

Kea makes the soaps according to a melt-and-pour process, and most of them are vegetable-based, with the exception of the goat’s milk soaps. The advantage to a hot process is that the fragrance and aroma are more intense and linger far longer than with a cold-process method, although such soaps lather well.

Wendy firmly believes that everyone should work together, be more cooperative and helpful for the good of the local community as well as one another. She has a driving passion to heal and be one with the earth, which reflects the tenets of Crafted Cosmetics: do no harm to the earth, no harm to your skin and no harm to animals.

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