One of the biggest fashion ‘come-backs’ last year was, without a doubt, the return of the infamous 90’s hair accessory, the scrunchie. Fully embracing the return of this fun trend, a Ballito-based mom and daughter team started what has since become a very successful online store called Oliver Scrunch. The story behind this small, North Coast family business is a heart-warming one.
When Oliver Scrunch founders Melissa Lupton and her mom Jenny launched their scrunchie business towards the middle of 2019 they had a few goals in mind. Apart from wanting to create a successful ecommerce business, they also wanted to give back to the community by providing job opportunities, collaborate with other small local businesses and crafters and support a charity close to their hearts. Although, as for many businesses, last year didn’t go quite according to plan, the two managed to reach all of their goals, and more.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Coming from a close-knit Empangeni born and raised family, Melissa works for a digital marketing agency in Umhlanga and lives in Ballito with her fiancé Scott and their two ‘fur children’, Oliver and Kevin. Her mom, business partner and best friend Jenny lives in Simbithi. The idea to start a scrunchie business was born in July 2019 when Melissa says they noticed the hair accessory making a ‘comeback’. “It was a fun idea for us. My gran had just retired and was able to sew and my mom had space in her garage.” But tragedy struck when Melissa’s gran fell ill and passed away from cancer a few months later. It was only at the beginning of 2020 that they decided to bring the idea to life again, in her memory.
A DREAM REALISED
“We finalised our name, visions and goals and got going. We launched our Instagram page, hired Zama (who does the sewing) and did our first market at the Litchi Orchard in March 2020.” Then lockdown happened. Instead of giving up, they used the time to build a website and create an ecommerce platform for an easy online shopping experience. Jenny handles all the inventory, fulfilment and overseeing all production and Melissa does the photography, sources material, marketing and website development. “It is not easy. There has been blood, sweat and tears, but together we make it possible!”
Oliver Scrunch has collaborated with local crafters, including Laura from Laura Craft Handmade (who makes the crochet baskets), Adam from the Shakaskraal community (who, with his team, makes the wire baskets) and Thomas (who makes their beaded key rings). “The business has grown from strength to strength and we even hired additional help over December. We have dozens of ideas that we cannot wait to share with everyone as time goes by and are so grateful to everyone for their support in our journey so far.”
SCRUNCHIES … A TREND REVIVED
Scrunchies, like most things from the 90’s, allow the original wearers to feel nostalgic and give young shoppers a chance to discover them for the first time. A trend she believes is here to stay this time, Melissa says the advancements in fashion and styles mean the possibilities are endless.
“We have seen some incredible initiatives in the scrunchie world, from massively oversized scrunchies to scrunchie headbands and even scrunchie shoes! It is such a fun space! Scrunchies are not only a fashion statement, but they are also comfortable and functional and protect your hair from damage.”
Oliver Scrunch also has an exciting range of scrunchie storage options (holders and baskets) as well as scrunchie gifting. Melissa says there is no wrong way to wear a scrunchie. “They come in all shapes, sizes and textures that we feel the only ‘don’t’ is to hide your personality. A scrunchie on the wrist is a big yes … it is function and fashion … and we brought out a petite size perfect for this look. We love the ‘over the bun’ look, especially being outdoors, on the beach with a matching bikini, the high messy hair style and the classic ponytail never get old!”
Apart from supporting local crafters, Oliver Scrunch also donates a portion of their monthly sales to the KZN Boston Terrier Action Group (BTAG). Why Boston Terriers? “Oliver is our beloved Boston Terrier. He is the inspiration behind the name and we decided to make him the CEO of Oliver Scrunch! Thus, choosing a local bostie rescue NPC to support was an obvious one.” Melissa says BTAG is a ‘family’ of Boston Terrier lovers that has been rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming for the last 10 years.
Details: www.oliverscrunch.co.za; IG: @oliverscrunch, 083 399 4444/083 636 9985
Text: Leah Shone