Meeting The Oryx: A Woman’s Desert Journey

When Samantha Skyring decided to walk 120km over 7 days through the Namib Desert to the Skeleton Coast in July 2000, little did she know this experience would profoundly influence the creation of her new business.

During this walk she had several significant face-to-face encounters with Oryx Gazella (gemsbok). The vivid images of meeting the Oryx in the desert would become the inspiration that led Sam to create a new brand for desert salt from the Kalahari.

Researching the Oryx, Sam was stunned to discover they can survive for up to 2. years without water, but cannot survive more than 2 months without licking salt for the sodium chloride, minerals and trace elements vital for survival in the harsh conditions of the Kalahari Desert. And so the Oryx, with its striking colouring and majestic presence, became the symbolic icon for Oryx Desert Salt.

Like all entrepreneurial journeys, Oryx Desert Salt has evolved from packing salt into cotton bags on her dining room table to a business today which supplies both independent and chain retailers such as Woolworths, Pick ‘n’ Pay and Checkers as well as numerous restaurants country-wide.

 

SUSTAINABILITY & SOCIAL EMPOWERMENT

No matter how big Oryx Desert Salt grows, Sam emphasises they will never lose sight of their core values. “Being local, sustainable and accessing a renewable resource has always been a key value for us,” she maintains.

“We want to work in harmony with nature,” continues Sam. “not in opposition to it.” The salt is harvested in the remote, pristine Kalahari Desert from ancient rock formations 250 million years old through which underground streams flow. It is then naturally sun-dried at temperatures reaching 47°C.

Our signature payoff line is ‘REFILL | REUSE | REAL VALUE’. We use recyclable glass bottles and long-lasting ceramic heads on our grinders which means they can be refilled many times over with our refill boxes, which helps to reduce landfill and of course is also good for our customer’s wallets.”

Oryx Desert Salt is packaged in a variety of ways, from pure cotton drawstring bags and grinders to refill boxes and mini-shakers perfect for picnics and travel. “We believe in supporting local business where ever possible, especially if those businesses are also working to empower communities. That’s why we’ve chosen to partner with packaging company Ukama, a woman-led business which helps women from local communities create their own micro-enterprises, thereby gaining entrepreneurial and business skills. The cotton bags are hand sewn, providing employment to a team of seamstresses.

We also give back a percentage of profit to Khomani San and Mier communities who own !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park,” says Sam.

 

You may think salt is small and commonplace, something you only think about at dinner time. However, Oryx Desert Salt demonstrates that salt is far from unimportant.  “How our salt is processed and packaged, how production impacts the living world, including our communities, matters. Salt matters. We can’t live without it,” declares Sam.