Elma Mckenzie, co-founder of the South African skincare brand, Placecol, was in Johannesburg last week to help the brand’s owner, Imbalie Beauty, celebrate Placecol’s 40th birthday.
McKenzie, who is considered an icon in the beauty industry, founded Placecol in the 1980s along with husband Leslie, a pharmacist and homeopath.
Speaking at the Placecol Spa in Randburg, Imbalie CEO, Esna Colyn, highlighted how difficult conditions were in the 1980s for an independent concern trying to create a skincare brand. “But God’s dreams for us are so much more than our own. I can honestly say that this business was birthed through prayer. At the beginning of their Placecol journey, Elma and Leslie travelled from Ermelo to Potchefstroom University to meet with scientists to decide how to formulate the brand. When they decided to use Manketti nut oil as the basis of their formulations, they faced a huge challenge in that it grows in the Caprivi Strip, which was right in the middle of a war zone at the time.”
Elma Mckenzie continued: “We came to an agreement with the Namibian government that a leprosy hospital in the area would gather the nuts for us. However, the nuts are extremely difficult to crack so my husband developed a special machine to do this and so we were on our way with developing the Placecol range. We knew that for every one of our formulations, the value would be in the results. If you are launching a skincare brand, it’s important that people trust you and see into your heart.
“Placecol was launched into pharmacies with three products – a Day Cream, a Night Cream and ampoules. At a later stage we developed a Pigmentation Cream, which made a big impact on the market.
“It was a very difficult journey to create Placecol and launch it successfully on the market but when we started, it forced us to get out of our comfort zone to realise our potential. We prayed, and then God gave us what we prayed for. It is so beautiful for me to be here today, 40 years later, and see the brand thrive. I’m so proud of the way Esna Colyn is leading the brand.”
McKenzie is now semi-retired and runs a small home salon. Clients still travel from all over the country for her treatments.