Liquid (gold) dreams are made of these
When you put action behind a dream, miracles start happening. This is what Izette Dreyer, founder and owner of Royale Afrique du Sud, South Africa’s foremost producer of Pomegranate Seed Oil, not only believes to be true, but is proof of.
“I have always been fascinated with therapeutic and essential oils”, she says. “As far back as primary school I would save my pocket money to buy oils to play around with. I found it wonderful that oils could be calming, uplifting, enhancing and used for mood balancing.”
The countless health and wellness benefits of something so natural, and so pure, just absolutely captured her imagination. As such, Izette knew a great deal about oils from an early age and developed a very good nose along the way.
Agri-processing – which is the industry that the production of Pomegranate Seed Oil falls into – is very familiar to her. Her father was a winemaker so the cultivation, harvesting, processing and packaging of natural products is one that she understands… almost intuitively.
Izette says that while she was always very interested in winemaking and loved observing and helping her dad at work, she never considered winemaking as a serious career choice. “No ways, I wanted to be an actress, a lawyer or to work with children. Oh, and I wanted to be an entrepreneur so at least that part came to fruition,” she laughs. The unintended consequence of observing her father making wine is that she came to understand and appreciate what incredibly hard work agri-processing is. “Physically, it is very hard on the body. And you’re at the mercy of nature and the elements. And it simply doesn’t get easier so you have to love it, else it’s really exhausting.”
Of all the oils, Pomegranate Seed Oil captured Izette’s imagination the most. At that stage it wasn’t available in South Africa and so she started making plans to import it. “The more I read studies highlighting the benefits of the oil, the more fascinated I became with having to have it,” she explains. “When I discovered what punicic acid is and what it does, I was blown away, and I became almost single-minded about needing to have it.”
Her first approach was to try and bring it in from overseas but imports is not always an easy industry to navigate and often requires specialist logistics expertise. Other challenges that Izette faced with importing the oil was around volumes, quality, cost, timelines and, most frustratingly, not being able to really build a relationship with the source. “It was so important to me to be able to trust that what I’m paying for in terms of quality and purity is what I would get.”
Even when it became clear that the import option wasn’t feasible, Izette still didn’t let go of the dream. “I knew intuitively that there was a future for me that involved the combination of agri-processing and pomegranate seed oil. In the end it is something that I carried in my heart for five years before the first bottle of oil was produced under the Royale SA label.”
While the dream was the kind that kept her up at night, so strong was the desire to see it readily available in South Africa. Yet, never in her wildest dreams did Izette imagine a future where she would be producing it herself.
Looking back now, she says, it becomes clear how a number of events conspired to lead her to this eventual fate. “The first thing that happened is that my father got skin cancer and it was terrible to see him suffering. While I didn’t believe that Pomegranate Seed Oil could cure the skin cancer, I knew that it would help to soothe his skin and lessen the pain he was experiencing. At the same time I became aware of the fact that there are many pomegranate farms in Paarl (where she lives) and surrounds, and so I started making phone calls…”
The rest, as they say, is history, though of course it’s where the Royale SA story really starts. “I was told repeatedly that making pomegranate seed oil is a very difficult thing to do, but I was simply too hardegat to listen.”
More than the hard work that it would take to produce, there was also risk to it as the final processed product would have to be subjected to lab tests. “There was always a chance that the lab test would report ‘non-detectable levels of punicic acid’, which would have meant the end of this venture for me.” As fate would have it, Izette’s first batch of Pomegranate Seed Oil boasted 73.5% punicic acid (the acceptable average worldwide is 60%).
Armed with a superior product, gutsy determination and a deeply primitive feeling that this is right, Izette set about spreading the gospel of Pomegranate Seed Oil! “In the first year we produced 8 litres of pomegranate seed oil. Last season that number was 185 litres,” she says proudly.
Izette attributes many things to her success; determination, enthusiasm, hard work, an unwillingness to let go of a dream, but she is also acutely aware of the hugely positive and motivating power many people who came across her path on this journey had on her success.
“It was a dream that I didn’t think could happen. I’ve taken on many big projects and overwhelming challenges but this one was different. It was as much about training my brain to stay focussed, as it was about doing the work. But there was so much love, support and guidance along the way,” she says.
At its core the Royale SA brand is about simplicity, beauty, mindfulness and self care. And to live in harmony with the self, as much as the seasons.