“To me, it shifted from the mindset of being a policy maker to becoming an individual championing the comparative local development concept. Africa trades more in agriculture, the agriculture sector should be the highest paying employer in the continent I thought.”
These were the thoughts of a 31-year-old Mphele Yelane while in Italy on a student exchange program that exposed her to the real context of local development. Born and raised in the African Eden (Limpopo province), “in our backyards you find plants for food and healing remedies. It’s natural for me to take advantage of the wealth in our soil. In Tzaneen my hometown, we produce oranges, lemon, nuts, avocadoes, litchis etc. I know in June I get avocado and orange for consumption and also apply as a face mask”.
The cosmetic products started as a creative thing to do for Mphele, her sisters and friends started coming for more after trying her products. While doing her Masters it clicked to her that this should be a business, Mphele realised she could empower her neighbours by buying from them and producing organic products for profit. Hence Ezamazwe Skin Solution brand was conceived. Ezamazwe means “of the world” or “from the earth”.
Tell me more about Ezamazwe Skin Solution.
Ezamazwe Skin Solution is 100% organic skincare products. We source our ingredients from all over the African continent to ensure we only work with top quality products. A good example is our unrefined shea butter which comes from Ghana. Our passion is to source out pure products from local traders in order to produce products that are truly pure, environmentally friendly and have never been tested on animals for quality control.
The fact that we do all our own research and development and produce all our products from start to finish in one location, ensures high quality every step of the way. Ezamazwe Skin Solution is proud to guarantee that we use the recommended dosages for all our actives. We don’t think just being natural is enough. Products should deliver results.
Our product is completely organic, and healthy for the environment as it is for human skin. Starting its life as nuts, raw materials are carefully crafted into many useful products, including oil and butter. The beauty of shea butter is that it is infinitely recycled from plant to skin butter. Recycling nuts products therefore, contribute to the preservation of our planet. As a sustainable skin solution, it takes nothing away from the environment and leaves nothing behind.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I am born in an entrepreneurial family, my parents own a tuck-shop, taxi business and are involved in community projects.
I know more about business management than being an employee. When people started making regular orders I knew this must be formalized.
What was your mission at the outset?
My dream is to have Ezamazwe Skin Solution become one of the very few local organic skincare manufacturers in the South African cosmetic industry.
When did you “charter” the business?
The business started officially in 2007, now to celebrate 10 years I decided to register a formal business in 2017. The brand has grown and the market is ready to receive the Ezamazwe Skin Solution brand.Mphele Yelane ran Ezamazwe Skin Solution for 10 years before formally registering it as a business Click To Tweet
How do you advertise your business?
I advertise my business mainly through word of mouth. I also utilise social media and am now ready to sponsor TV programs and beauty pageants.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I have a solid support system from my parents, my sisters (Olgah, Sharon and Lerato) and my husband. I run my ideas with them, if they buy it, I start doing research and officialise it. If they say it’s not viable I leave it there.
Also, I never give up, I just postpone and re-focus my energy. Giving up is never an option if I am sold onto something.
Describe/outline your typical day?
I am still employed full-time and work on Ezamazwe Skin Solution as part-time. My husband is a hands-on father, a typical day starts with “morning ritual”; drop my son at school, off to work, during lunch I work on Ezamazwe Skin Solution.
After work, driving back home I start planning my day as MD of Ezamazwe Concepts. Once I get home, I do house chores, then from 9pm to 2am I work on Ezamazwe Skin Solution; processing orders, delivery arrangement, and manufacturing process.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
It doesn’t, my husband is a businessman too and my mentor, we don’t know anything besides working smart as parents.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by the desire to be financially fit so that even if I don’t work for a year, my lifestyle don’t change.
How do you generate new ideas?
Ideas are not generated, they just come when one is content. When you are at peace with self, your mind starts working right and ideas start popping up.Ideas are not generated, they just come when one is content - Mphele Yelane Click To Tweet
How far are you willing to go to succeed?
I won’t rest until Ezamazwe Skin Solution becomes a household brand and number one skincare solution in Africa.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Changing people’s lives through employment is something that brings me joy as an entrepreneur. I also enjoy exploring new markets and take pride in producing Proundly SA brand.
To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Wow! If I had to limit it to five elements, they would be,
- Know yourself in Christ
- Commit and focus on your plan
- Believe in yourself and stick to the plan
- Do research
- Analyse your market and always engage with it.
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