Vivian Shiburi - Founder & CEO
Meet Vivian Shiburi, an African woman from Diepkloof in Soweto and the brains behind the Sheer Elegance brand. The founder and CEO of VIP Cosmetics Laboratories cc, the manufacturers of the established brand Sheer Elegance.
Vivian’s love and passion for hair started when she was only 13 years old living at her grandparent’s house. At this tender age, her neighbour who worked in entertainment became her first client whom she styled every day. When her parents bought a house 3 kilometres away from her grandparent’s place, Vivian relocated with them.
The 3km distance presented a challenge for Vivian’s client. However, it didn’t dissuade her from staying loyal and having her hair styled by Vivian daily. Undoubtedly, illustrates Shiburi’s phenomenal and exceptional skills with hair, even in her adolescent years.
This was the genesis of Vivian’s relationship with cosmetology. To broaden her knowledge and sharpen her skills she studied Analytical Chemistry. Followed by an 18-month internship at a Laboratory Consulting Company stationed at an environmental Laboratory. Prompting, her studies in Environmental Sciences. While working for a company that manufactured Caucasian hair products her passion for hair reignited and the desire to conceptualize her own company was born. Finally, manifesting the development of an African natural haircare brand. Without a doubt, Vivian Shiburi is a highly dedicated and ambitious individual who achieves everything she sets her mind to.
When Vivian was pregnant with her second child, she decided to quit her job and develop natural haircare products. The products were primarily formulated to address hair health issues faced by African women. In December 2005, VIP Cosmetics Laboratories cc was born. Followed by the manufacturing of its first two products: shampoo and conditioner under the brand, VIP Cosmetics in 2006
In 2008 VIP Cosmetics Laboratories cc engaged in research and development to identify challenges faced by the dreadlock market. Research with hair technicians in the dreadlocks field revealed results pointing to the challenges of dry, itchy, flaking scalp or dandruff; hair loss, build up and dull dreadlocks. This culminated in the manufacturing of what was to be later known as Sheer Elegance hair care brand geared at addressing these challenges. To further enhance her dreadlocks knowledge, Vivian took a two-week course in dreadlocks. When Vivian styled her first customer during her training, she was immediately offered a job as a stylist because of her creativity. However, she declined because she had already started her own project.
The product was first marketed in Soweto with the expectancy of smooth sailing due to home ground advantage. Instead, it posed a challenge because, at the time, the target market was loyal to established brands. Clearly, people did not believe that an unknown African woman had anything better to offer the industry. Nonetheless, Vivian decided to open a salon and further market Sheer Elegance. The brand endeared in the hearts of end-users and spread through word-of-mouth. Finally, Sheer Elegance catapulted to become a trusted South African brand from its humble beginnings in Soweto.
Armed with more than 10 years of experience in the ongoing research and development of the Sheer Elegance haircare brand. The 4C afro haircare market revealed an additional niche. Therefore, developing the ground-breaking Sheer Elegance Afro Naturals range. Especially designed and formulated to address challenges faced by the 4C hair community that existing brands/products were overlooking.
Vivian Shiburi started wearing dreadlocks hairstyles in 2009 while developing her Dreadlocks Range. Following 2018 Vivian continued the tradition of testing products on her own tresses while developing the Afro Naturals Range. An extremely invaluable experience because she empathises with the 4C hair community’s struggles with low-porosity hair. Which Vivian has herself.
Normally developing a new product took her a maximum of six (6) months, but with Sheer Elegance Afro Naturals 6 in 1 Leave-in Conditioner, it took her at least two years to come up with this amazing groundbreaking formulation to address her low porosity 4C hair. This was then further tested at our own salon before trying out with other salons and 4C hair sisters.
The brand provides a solution for 4C sisters to feel and look beautiful with ease and affordability. They no longer need to go through the odorous L.O.C. (Liquid, Oil, and Cream) or L.C.O. (Liquid, Cream, and Oil) procedures. It simplifies the maintenance of 4C low porosity hair disproving the ‘myth’ that our African hair is difficult to maintain. The time and money saved in the maintenance of our Afro hair can be best used in the development of other aspects of our lives. Furthermore, The African soil provides us with extracted oils and active ingredients from natural plants that we use to manufacture our products
Being a result-oriented brand that focuses on our niche market’s pain points ensures that we make the intended impact in the communities that we serve thus setting ourselves apart from other competing brands. Our love and commitment to natural hair influence our decision to focus only on dreadlocks, braids and afro.