A young Bathurst woman is playing a huge role in overcoming the nationwide problem of the disposing of used nappies for both infants and the aged.
And in the process, Candy Androliakos, will be assisting the local pineapple industry and providing employment for quite a lot of people.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Androliakos left the country in 1978 and moved to South Africa where she completed a three-year beauty therapist course. She started her working life at the then well-known Carlton Hotel in Johannesburg before she moved to the also upmarket Royal Hotel in Durban. It was here that she met many famous people and government officials.
Androliakos then moved to Botswana in 2002 where she was employed to open a health spa in Gaberone and worked for the famous Khama family for 10 years. At the time, Ian Khama was the vice-president of Botswana.
After 10 years, Androliakos was persuaded by a friend to settle in Bathurst where she bought her own property and started working at the nearby St Francis Health Centre. But she had the urge to work for herself and opened her own salon in Port Alfred, though still contracted to the health centre. At the same time, there was a need for a therapist at Settlers Park Retirement Village and she soon became popular among the residents.
And so it was during her visits to the park that she became aware that there was a real need for cheaper and more biodegradable adult nappies.
“The nappies in use now are extremely expensive and I know of one man who has been spending up to R7,000 a year on these. Others were using them for longer than they should, which is not healthy,” she said.
She explained further that the other major problem was that disposable nappies can take between 500 and 800 years to decompose completely.
Androliakos started looking at ways to make cheaper ones. Her idea was to develop and produce washable nappies that would also be eco-friendly.
She started experimenting with different materials resulting in a lot of trial and error. Then one day she saw a bill board outside the Big Pineapple near Bathurst displaying the different uses for the leaf of pineapples. This gave her the idea of the possibility of using this material in her nappies and she made contact with now retired well-known pineapple farmer, Brian Linforth, who supplied her with the dried pulp fibre from pineapple leaves. She had this tested for bacteria and it was found to be safe and suitable for her needs.
Androliakos obviously needed someone to start making the underwear into which this fibre is fitted and found a willing hand in Kleinemonde resident Sarah Oberholzer. Though still in its relatively early stages, the product has already proved successful and is being supplied in Settlers Park, Leach Pharmacy and along the Garden Route.
“The big advantage of these nappies is that they are washable and obviously reusable, resulting in them being a big cost saver. They also solve the problem of disposing them,” Androliakos said.
She is also producing sanitary towels and is also looking at manufacturing both chair and bed protectors.
With her business growing, Androlikos obviously requires a larger producer and has lined up a factory in East London where her products will be manufactured next year. This means that more people will hopefully be employed as well as on the pineapple farms.
Androlikos is tied up with a government organisation, Innovationhubb, in Pretoria, who have undertaken to assist her financially. “I am very excited about this and am confident this will help my business grow next year,” she added. She said she was the only person in the country undertaking this and hastened to add that she has registered a patent for her products.
She operates under the name of Leafline Sanitary Wear.