Splash away!

Meet Nomvuyo Treffers (39), the entrepreneur that’s giving black women back the power to swim freely without stressing about their hair

Are one of those people who opts to sit on the side of the swimming pool, daring only to dip your toes in the water because dealing with the hassle of wet hair is just too much for you?

If this is you, the good news is that your woes are finally over.

Based in Cape Town, Treffers is the lady behind Swimma, waterproof swimming caps specifically designed for black people. The caps are big enough to accommodate African hairstyles like dreadlocks, braids, Afros and weaves.

With two young daughters who she describes as water babies, Treffers found that her dreadlocks were prohibiting her from spending quality time with them in the pool because getting her dreads wet meant waiting hours for her locks to dry.

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She went searching for swimming caps that were big enough for her hair, only to discover no such product was available in the country. They could only be found overseas – and with a hefty price tag attached to them.

“I started thinking how can it be that in a country like South Africa, with the demographics that we have, that we don’t have a product like this for black people,” she says.

And so in August, Swimma was born.

Finding the right manufacturer who understood what she was looking for – a thicker than usual, super-size silicone cap that should last a couple years, at least, if looked after properly – was the biggest start-up challenge she faced as it took eight months and she had to go through 10 manufacturers before finding the right fit.

The swimming caps are available for purchase from www.swimma.co.za and come in two sizes, for R185 and R199.

Treffers says she’s been overwhelmed by the positive feedback she’s been receiving from the market both locally and in other African countries, including Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

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While her ultimate plan is to eventually expand into the rest of Africa with the help of agents, her focus right now is establishing the business in SA first.

For now, the caps come only in black, but Treffers says she’s working with her manufacturers to produce funky-coloured caps, as well as swimming caps for children.

She says the single most important lesson she’s learnt along her entrepreneurial journey is the importance of valuing your customer, listening to their feedback and implementing some of their suggestions if they make financial sense.

Her advice to budding entrepreneurs is not to be afraid of taking calculated risks.

“When you think of an idea, don’t wait and think – act on it,” she says. “Whatever gap you see, you should take it and take a chance because that’s what entrepreneurship is about. Sometimes you have to go with your gut, but obviously market research is critical.”