1. Many people are calling you the “Kylie Jenner” of South Africa because of your success in the beauty industry despite being so young. What advice would you give a young person who wants to start a business and be successful while being young but has limited financial means?
The more time I spend in business, the more I realize that the reason people say cliché things is because those cliché things are true in practice. So, as cliché as this sounds – start small. Don’t be afraid of not being perfect. Trial and error are an integral part of getting a business off the ground. Also, the younger you are – the less you have to lose, so start.
2. You don’t seem to regret dropping out of high school and perusing your dream in the beauty industry. Does not having a university degree cause any worry in your life ? Do people in ‘the real world’ treat you differently for not obtaining your matric certificate?
I think I was always casual about not having completed matric because I knew that if I wanted or needed it at any point I could just go back and get it. In retrospect I think it might have been a naive thought to have, but I would like to carry it with me into the future. I would like to think that I am never be too old to be a student. My ‘no matric’ status has never been something that’s come up in business – it only ever comes up in interviews. Which is a remarkable insight into how misunderstood “the real world” is, especially to kids.
3. Would you ever consider getting a degree or diploma in order to help you in your business, or do you see no use for one?
If there is a need at the time, and if there is a degree that would serve my business and is going to teach me something I cannot learn on the internet, then by all means I would.
4. You have been quoted saying that you fell into a rut after Swiitch Beauty took flight and that you are glad that your parents did not get involved at that point,else you would never have gotten motivated again. Have your parents always been supportive of your pursuit of your dreams, or have they ever had any doubts?
My parents allowed me grow up. Especially in a business sense. From the time I left school I was given complete privacy with no one to account to for my time but myself. A big responsibility for a 16-year-old, and abuse of it is expected, I lazed around for a couple months and they did not say a thing. They have always been very emotionally supportive of me. Never doubtful. Never hesitant. I owe every crumb of my confidence to the way I was raised.
5. Did you get any help when you were researching how to start an online business as well as starting up when you were 14, and what would you do differently if you could? What were your first business mistakes?
I come from a very entrepreneurial, business savvy family. Everyone is building something with their time and it was very helpful to have a soundboard for my ideas at home.
6. How did you receive the respect needed as a business owner at such a young age, with regards to business meetings with factory owners etc.?
I think I was too young to realize that my age was a factor in gaining respect. I never brought it up and always presented myself well. The absence of a setback in the mind is the absence of a setback in reality. I also knew that I didn’t know anything. So, each meeting or encounter was a level up and a learning experience. I sucked sometimes but it didn’t matter because I knew I would suck less next time, and even less the following time.
7. Swiitch Beauty provides affordable makeup to South African women as there is a lack of makeup brands like yours in our country. Do you feel that in order for Swiitch Beauty to take over the South African market, you would have to set up permanent stand-alone stores and not just sell only online or at pop-up stores? Where will your company go from here?
Experiential retail is definitely on the cards for Swiitch. There is so much you can do in terms of building a genuine relationship with your consumer when you have got a physical place to connect. People buy from people, not businesses. We live in an age where options are everywhere. We must abandon the idea that customers need us, because they don’t. What customers need is an experience where they can live out their dreams, even if it’s only for a few moments. They need a place where they are inspired and excited. A community where their fears and desires are understood & supported. If you marry the best of both online and brick-and-mortar, then you get just that.
8. Your product range seems to be growing steadily. When researching your next product, do you look to other brands for inspiration or to the lack of a certain type of product available to the South African market?
There is no shortage of product – just shortage of context. Meaningful, problem-solving context. My product development process always starts with a problem. I sit down with a product and say, “If I could think this mascara all the way through – what would it look like?” We have a super engaged audience on our instagram and on our community platform where I am always crowdsourcing developmental ideas.
9. Like many beauty enthusiasts, you started off from your love of makeup while watching the international beauty community on YouTube. Most ‘makeup gurus’ start off on YouTube and then create their own brands. Did you ever consider starting on YouTube first?
YouTube is an avenue of growth that I am looking to explore in the upcoming months. Especially considering the circumstances right now.
10. Your company has a beautiful website as well as amazing branding and packaging. Is this your own idea or did you have help from a web designer or brand coordinator? Where did you get the inspiration for your brand name?
For the last 4 and a half years it was me. I brought a designer on board for the first time in February this year.
11. If you were not running a successful business, what do you believe that you would be doing today? –
Probably skipping lectures and chilling on the lawn with my friends.
Image : @rabiaghoor