Our story begins in the heart of the Kalahari desert.
20 years ago, Samantha Skyring, CEO and founder of Oryx Desert Salt, decided to walk 120km through the Namib Desert for 7 days to the Skeleton Coast. Little did she know that this adventure would lead her to the creation of Oryx Desert Salt.
On her expedition, she had the remarkable experience of meeting the Oryx gazella face-to-face. Her many encounters with these majestic and noble creatures made a deep impression on her. She learned that while Oryx have adapted to waterless wastelands and can go for an extended time without drinking water, they cannot survive more than a couple months without licking salt for the sodium chloride, minerals and trace elements vital for survival in the harsh conditions of the Kalahari Desert.
Samantha also discovered that salt was being harvested in the remote, pristine Kalahari Desert from ancient rock formations 250 million years old through which underground streams flow. It was then naturally sun-dried at temperatures reaching 47°C. The idea formed to create a business promoting health-giving, unprocessed, unpolluted desert salt and it seemed entirely natural that the Oryx, with its striking colouring and markings, would become a fitting symbolic icon of Oryx Desert Salt.
As with many entrepreneurial journeys, Oryx Desert Salt has evolved from packing salt on Samantha’s dining room table to a business today which supplies both independent and chain retailers such as Woolworths, Pick ‘n’ Pay, Cape Union Mart and Checkers as well as numerous restaurants country-wide.
The business has deliberately chosen to partner with women-owned suppliers such as Ukama, a packaging 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 small collective of seamstresses.
Most of all, Oryx Desert Salt sees itself as part of the greatest feminine power of all: Mother Nature. “We want to work in harmony with Nature,” says Samantha. “not in opposition to it. Being local, sustainable and accessing a renewable resource will always be a key value for us.”
“I like the fact that salt seems so small and insignificant, yet it makes a huge difference to the taste of your food, and to your health and wellbeing. How our salt is processed and packaged, how production impacts our environment matters. Salt matters. We can’t live without it.”