35-year- old Sarinah Matema-Morgans is the face behind a successful proudly South African luxurious beauty range that is distributed across 110 Pick n Pay stores countrywide. She shares her journey and her success tips.
Tell us about your aspirations growing up, have you always been entrepreneurial?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, my parents never worked in their lifetime. They owned butcheries, hair salons and grocery shops. I also sold ice blocks, cheese snacks at school because I enjoyed the exchange and the joy of always having some cash for sweets. I guess those lessons in my formative years prepared me for where I am.
Journey us into what you did before starting Serenitii Luxury Body Care
2018 mark 20 years of me in the beauty space. I worked for various international cosmetic brands in different positions. It was a school on its own. I came out with wealth of experience and knowledge. I was intentional even when I was getting a salary, I knew and believed that one day, and I’ll establish my own beauty brand.
When I started in 2008, I was importing a colour range from the US, it was a private label. Between 2008/2009 SA was hit by recession which made it impossible for me to continue with Serenity Cosmetics because of rand to dollar exchange. I had to let go of it and looked for a job again in the beauty space. As a proverbial person in the space, it didn’t take me long to get a job. Even then, I knew I won’t be long as an employee because the nagging voice inside me couldn’t let go.
I wanted to honour that voice and liberate myself. I decided to inquire on how to make body butter, what goes into making good body butter. But before then, as a cosmetologist, I worked on women’s skin and face most of my work life. Many women would confide in me about their body care struggles and how they feel so misrepresented by international brands. It was at that time that I decided to investigate a formula for body butter. I was always on the net thinking I’ll get a formula there. Through much investigation, I realised that I have to create a prototype first, get it tested and then take it from there. I was turned back endless times to improve on my formula.
Everything worked together in the end. I worked with experienced chemists who guided me in the right direction to a point where Serenitii Luxury Body Care BY Sarinah became a reality.
What is the story behind the name Serenitii?
The name Serenitii came about after my IP attorneys advised that Serenity has been taken and it’ll get us in trouble as it is owned already. Subsequent to that I lost my grandmother whose middle name was ‘’Tii’’. She was the matriarch of the family, she loved education so much, and I was named after her as well. So it made sense to honour her for the role she played in my life without losing pronunciation of the word serenity.
Share with us how and why you started your body care brand
The genesis of Serenitii Luxury Body Care lies in our desire to celebrate indigenous beauty rituals with natural products you can feel good about using. We make products that are not harmful to the skin by infusing africa’s best kept and oldest secret – O’RI oil in our products.
How long have you been in business and what are some of the challenges and highlights you faced thus far?
The journey in business started in 2008 with serenity cleaning services. I then ventured into, serenity cosmetics and then Serenitii Luxury Body Care. I met so many challenges. First, it was funding. Second, finding a retail partner to help access the market. Third, constant cash flow. The greatest highlights were when Pick n Pay retailers listed my products in premium stores.
They gave us 70 stores initially and recently added extra 40 stores. My products are also taken on by another retailer which we are on the process finilizing finer things. The brand is sturdily againing momentum and recognition.
How big is your team and what is your leadership style?
I have a team of 16 people, both permanent and part-time. I’m more of a teacher than a boss, Im very inclusive in my leadership style.
Who is your target market?
Our target market are women who are conscious about their beauty and health and are looking for a product that will complement them rather than change them. This woman could be located anywhere in the country but our focus is woman in the middle and higher LSM (living standard measure) with a deciding power given the current distribution channel we are using and their stage in business and annual sales turnover.
Apart from South Africa, where do you sell your products?
We also sell our products in Zimbabwe and UK through our brand ambassadors.
How would you define success?
I’ll reiterate the famous words of Abraham Lincoln ‘’Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm’’ These words ring true to me.
Do you have a mentor, why? (or why not?) and what is the best advice you have received?
Yes, I do have a mentor. I have been privileged to be matched with a business mentor from Poland through Cherie Blair Foundation which I’m a mentee. It’s an experience that has changed my life and approach to business challenges. The program lasts for 12 months. She expressed the power of 80/20 rule and how it is effective especially as one grows and scale up in business. She advises to always focus your energy on obtaining lasting results.
Share your success tips to the aspiring business person or one who is on the brink of giving up.
Don’t Give up. Giving up is a terrible seed to plant in one’s life. Go through the fire; be resolute that you’ll make it. Don’t Give up. Keep pushing; your last push may be the first to launch you.