Plain Tiger Spotlight: Terres d’ Afrique
“doing things differently"
By Jana Leonard
“We are everything a skincare brand isn’t; we don’t do things the normal way.” says founder and CEO of Terres d’ Afrique, Stephan Helary. Veterinarian turned botanist, Stephan was born and raised in Madagascar and Reunion Island but now resides in Johannesburg, “Madagascar has one of the most extraordinary pharmacopeia in the world. You are exposed to the medicinal properties and values of plants and essential oils from a young age, and this is where my fascination with the bounty and complexity of nature began.” he says. In addition to his Master’s Degree in Environmental and Wildlife Management and PhD in Nutritional Ecology, with a particular focus on Black Rhinoceros, he has acquired extensive experience across agricultural science, botany, conservation and Ecology over the years. “I have devoted much of my time to economic development and conservation projects across Africa. Currently, my focus is ethnobotany and biochemistry of African indigenous botanicals and their potential economic benefits for rural communities,” adds Stephan.
“We are everything a skincare brand isn’t; we don’t do things the normal way.” says founder and CEO of Terres d’ Afrique, Stephan Helary.
The story of Terres d’ Afrique is very much linked to Stephan’ own personal journey and love for the natural and cultural diversity of South Africa. The conceptualisation of the brand however happened while he was working on an agriculture development project in Namibia, where he discovered Marula oil. “It occurred to me that Africa has a wealth of plants with powerful health benefits, often part of the traditional knowledge, which were not being commercialised for the benefits of local communities. I thought that we could be a catalyst to connect local communities and their traditional knowledge with the rest of the world and share these wonders the continent has to offer.” says Stephan. In doing so, he wanted to continue the development work he has been doing, making sure the brand would empower women in rural communities and contribute to preserving biodiversity. “We capture the unique power of rare African botanicals in science-driven, organic formulas that balance the skin and nourish the senses,” he adds.
The Terres d’ Afrique team meticulously sources pure ingredients from ecosystems across the African continent and applies the insights of modern botany, as well as the latest research on skin health, to yield profoundly effective products that restore the skin’s natural balance. A deep commitment to ethical practices and ecosystem sustainability is central to everything they do. The name, Terres d’Afrique, is an act of homage and a constant reminder of the wisdom and beauty the “earth of Africa” provides. “Our story is utterly truthful and authentic and not created in a marketing agency as it happens so often for skincare brands. They are about real people and real passions, reflected in lifelong commitments,” says Stephan.
For the past 10 years, Terres d’ Afrique, has been known for doing things differently - “It feels like we were ahead of our time 10 years ago and now that the time is right for conscious brands with a purpose to flourish, we are taking the lead,” says Stephan. Using Africa’s botanical pharmacopoeia, indigenous ingredients such as buchu, Kalahari melon, Baobab, Marula Oil and Kigelia Fruit Extract are all used for their curative properties. All Terres d’ Afriques botanicals are harvested according to the ethical and environmental criteria of the fair trade and environmental organisations of Phytotrade Africa and Ecocert.
“My work is driven by a deep passion for conservation and an unshakeable love of the earth and its gifts. I am committed to demonstrating the power of pure, rare African ingredients and that it is possible to create products that are safe, fair and respectful of the environment,” says Stephan.
“We are uncompromisingly committed to biodiversity, we exist to foster healthy, meaningful exchange for the wellbeing and livelihood of the farmers with whom we partner and our customers who are nourished by our brand. Humanity is at a crossroads and conscious consumers insist that brands play fair and consider themselves accountable to both future generations and the ecosystems of which they are part. Our focus is on wellness rather than beauty and sustainability rather than luxury.” he adds.
We have seen a huge shift from consumers, and brands, now focusing on clean beauty, although very trendy, it’s still very unclear and, for many, only refers to products exempt of harmful ingredients for the consumer’s health. However, the environmental impact of packaging is often overlooked. “Our definition of clean goes far beyond just the impact of ingredients on human health but includes environmental impact. We ensure our packaging is safe and as sustainable as possible,” adds Stephan.
When talking about their products, Stephan says, “Our products are of superior quality. When developing a formula, we do not look at cost and price positioning but only at efficacy and textures. The results are effective formulas with luxurious textures.”
Their top 3 products include the Uplifting Serum - a light gel with potent anti-aging properties, which will lift the skin, leaving it feeling firm and smooth, the Light Facial Cream which is a complex, fast absorbing formulation that hydrates, restructures and regenerates skin, while fighting free radicals and boosting skin elasticity. Lastly, the Omumbiri Body Butter is a luxurious, rich body butter fragranced with exotic Omumbiri. This non-greasy formulation rejuvenates, moisturises and softens skin.
These products go to first-timers and return buyers alike. “Their efficacy and texture really speak for themselves,” he adds.