From hair struggles to entrepreneurial success: Cape Town mom’s inspiring journey to haircare success

Curl Chemistry by Liesl Smerdon. Picture supplied.

Curl Chemistry by Liesl Smerdon. Picture supplied.

Published Jul 26, 2023


In the inspiring words of Beyoncé Knowles track, “Who run the world? Girls!”, came to mind when writing this story about Liesl Smerdon.

Born in Namibia and raised in Cape Town, Liesl Smerdon is a shining example of a woman who is taking the world by storm. The 31-year-old powerhouse has not only created a successful business but she has also built a fulfilling family life.

Married for three years and blessed with a two-year-old son, Smerdon's journey to success is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

It started with a simple desire for better hair products. Frustrated by the lack of options available, she took matters into her own hands and created her own line. And she went from 120 jars of curl activating cream to now having built a full range of haircare products available at major retailers like Takealot, Makro and BeautyonTap.

“It was a budget thing and I could only afford to make 120 jars of cream with my first batch.

As soon as I launched, I realised that 120 jars would be way too little. And word spread like wildfire. Curl Chemistry travelled nationally and internationally,” she shared.

Determined to expand her knowledge and skills, Smerdon completed her BCom degree in 2018, followed by a cost accounting course in 2019.

But her thirst for growth didn't stop there. In 2021, she completed a 10-week Business Analysis course with UCT and GetSmarter. Despite already possessing business and finance expertise, she acknowledged that running a business taught her a whole new set of skills.

What started as a humble venture driven by a lack of suitable products has now become a thriving business seven years later.

It was never in Smerdon's plans for her business to reach the heights it has. She considers herself truly blessed and is grateful for the love and support she receives from her family and friends.

Liesel and her family. Picture: Supplied

Through her business, Smerdon has not only encountered countless amazing customers but she also forged deep connections with individuals who have become like family.

The continuous support she receives makes every step of her journey worthwhile.

Smerdon acknowledges that she may not have had the same access to networks and resources as other brands starting out. However, she took proactive steps to connect with people, engage with government initiatives, secure funding and join business forums.

Her efforts paid off, opening doors and introducing her to incredible individuals. In addition, Smerdon has been honoured with awards, further validating her dedication and hard work.

At the heart of it all, though, Smerdon's ultimate motivation is her son. He is the driving force behind her determination and success. She lives each day to show him that anything is possible with unwavering effort and determination.

Her family is her foundation and she strives to create a better future for them.

Founder of Curl Chemistry, Liesl Smerdon. Picture supplied

“I know this may sound cliché but my son is my motivation, 100%. My family is what I live for and that’s why I’ve made a success of this. To show my son one day that anything is possible with your effort and determination”, she said speaking to Independent Media Lifestyle.”

We offer distributor opportunities to individuals who want an extra stream of income. This way, our products are available to the public. We also like to collaborate with other businesses in our community and this way we can create opportunities for others in the community.

There’s still potential growth ahead as more and more people are embracing their natural hair and the next generation is so accepting of this.

Retail is also more open to local brands so there are great opportunities for growth and accessibility.

“I launched the brand with only one product in 2016. Later on, my customers needed other products to complement the Curl activating cream. Most of the products come from customer needs I’ve identified over the years.

“I also created products from my own needs and I found inspiration from both myself and my customers.”

Curl Chemistry. Picture supplied

Smerdon's story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the fulfilment that can be found in pursuing one's passions.

She proves that with determination, hard work and the support of loved ones, achieving success is within reach.