We last spoke to Carol Nyazika 10 months ago, when she was still in the process of launching Ndanaka. Ndanaka is an au-natural lifestyle brand with products predominantly from Zimbabwe and other African countries. It brings together a variety of beauty elements and infuses them into one. Hence their tag line, A Fusion of Beauty.
Revisiting our last sit down this is what she had to say about it.
How was the seed planted?
I started Ndanaka in 2011 when people were not really talking about natural products. Ndanaka started as a lifestyle blog and YouTube channel that promotes natural skin and hair care.
I was suffering from dry skin and my mothers skin was breaking out due to menopause. All the products she was using were not working for her, so I started mixing up a few ingredients that she could try. I then trained as a formulator and are now qualified to create products.
How did the name, Ndanaka, come about?
I gave my brand a Shona name because there are so many products with either French or foreign names we can hardly pronounce but we learn to. The word or statement, Ndanaka, has several translations and can mean ‘I am beautiful’ or in slang, ‘I’m good now’.
Fast forward to 2017…
Ndanaka was launched in January and it took four weeks. The process included: formulation, procurement, manufacturing, packaging, marketing and eventually making it available to the public.
What attracted you to this industry?
My initial drive and motivation was seeing my mothers confidence return when she felt beautiful and happy with her appearance. Later on, my mum would say, “You keep running away and going into other industries and even though you excel in those, you are not using your God given gift”.
Before, I was scared of entering the beauty industry because of the labels that sometimes come with it, but eventually I decided to give it a go. God gives us the power to profit, so I believe that now I am using my God given gift.
How was it like leaving your full time job to start a business in a struggling economy?
It’s interesting and the economy pushes you a bit more because now you are literally eating what you kill. I have nothing to fall back on so I have to learn to budget and also work very hard to generate sales. But, it is not only about me, but our service providers as well.
Even though the economy is struggling, we are forward thinking and putting sustainable structures in place. Structures that cover our cost to meet demand. The company is self-funded. Like any business our profits are still going back into the business and we are grateful that we have managed to increase our profit every month ever since we started. We work from home, where we have a work station or lab and a garage that we converted into a storage.
Because I am a trained formulator, I make my own products. It is therefore easier to come up with new products that our clients require or ask us to make . We started off with four products and we now have seven.
How has the market responded to your brand?
The response has been overwhelming. We started selling on the 28th of January, since then it’s been a whirlwind. The demand is growing within Zimbabwe and other countries like Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In our first week of operation, we sold out in four days and our first retailer sold out in the first week.
We are now currently in three retail shops and working to increase our presence across the country and into different markets. We aim to maintain good quality products as we continuously build, evolve and grow.
What challenges have you faced with the launch of Ndanaka?
Not meeting demand. However, we started taking this into consideration when pricing and formulating our products. At the end of the day we aim to provide an affordable brand because we understand our vision and goals.
Another setback is packaging. We are still not where we want to be but it is all a work in progress and we understand that.
With the issue of unavailability of cash in Zimbabwe, how are you managing to run your business?
We have all methods of payment – most people pay cash, our second biggest method of payment is Ecocash (a mobile money transfer powered by Econet), swipe then transfers.
We make sure we have nothing to hold our customers back from purchasing our products. We work with what we have, always searching for a solution and not letting the current hardships set us back.
How does your brand support the Zimbabwean economy?
Besides paying my taxes, I try to work with Zimbabwean companies and service providers as much as I can. Printing and graphic design is done locally. Some of my ingredients are sourced in rural Zimbabwe, therefore creating jobs. I am also pushing for my brand to be recognised internationally as a Zimbabwean brand.
What personal traits are necessary to run a business like Ndanaka?
- Confidence in one’s product
- Ability to constantly evolve
- Good listening skills
- A good support system
- Be good at delegating
- Ability to take criticism
- A hunger to learn
What advice would you give to your younger self?
- Just start – figure it out as you go. Have a skeleton and add flesh as you progress.
- Do not be afraid to ask. Be humble enough to ask for help and its okay if you dont know.
- Be curious about everything.
- Always have a contingency plan.
- Be resilient. People will always say something about you. Don’t take it personal. Feel your feelings – feel challenged, sad but move on- keep going.
- Try and be authentic – do what comes naturally to you.
- Try and be supportive of others.
- Put the work in and do what it takes to build your brand with integrity.
- Have a contract for everyone. Things change, people change and situations change.
- Operate as a business not an individual. When you respect your brand people will also respect it.
What is your favorite African lifestyle brand?
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