“It is always difficult for buyers to warm up to any brand or product – I was very fortunate that we got contacted by the retailer to come and pitch my brand.

“It’s an opportunity most start up’s yearn for, a great opportunity to knock on many other doors going forward, a sure sign of job opportunities,” she says.

At the end of November, the Serenitii Luxury Body Care BY Sarinah range of products will hit the shelves.

Although timed to coincide with the busy gift-exchange period, this contract is not seasonal, but ongoing and she is already aligning her operational systems to exploit the deal for access into markets in neighbouring countries.

“Our aim as a brand doing business with an established retailer is to grow from within, distributing to countries like Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and others,” she says.

READ MORE: Sarinah Matema-Morgan on her beauty range for African women

She believes the distribution deal has offered her business a tremendous opportunity and a platform to build her brand. She says they are already in the UK and Nigeria.

“The growth of any brand or product offering is very much reliant on patronage from consumers. Our product offering is unique and highly appreciated by our consumers. That in itself is great news and boosts our confidence to cross to other countries,” she says.

Her business journey in beauty and bodycare products started in 2003, when she left her native Limpopo as a 20-year old with little work experience but a huge dream to become part of the beauty and cosmetics industry in South Africa.

She has since worked for international cosmetics companies such as Estee Lauder, Clarins and Chanel.

By the time she left the safety of the corporate world, she had risen to become Brand Manager of Eye Slices, a Proudly South African company.

There she found both a mentor and the courage to follow her passion for locally grown, natural South African and African ingredients for a beauty product range of her own.

After years of speaking to customers and clients, she believed she knew what women wanted. “They wanted natural, not synthetic, creams and lotions,” she says.

Matema-Morgans officially launched her company in 2016 and immediately sought the endorsement of the Proudly South African label.

She says initially, securing funds and producing and dispatching products on time were huge stumbling blocks.

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“I’d reach a point where most financial institutions couldn’t assist me at all, because I didn’t have a strong financial record. The only option I had was to approach everybody I thought would be able to assist me with funding to take our products into the market,” she says.

After numerous failed attempts to secure funding, eventually, a funder came through for her. “There was a time I thought certain people wouldn’t assist me because I didn’t have a relationship with them, but to my amazement, I received help from strangers – the same people I thought wouldn’t be able to assist me with funds. So, as an entrepreneur, you must never lose hope. No matter what comes your way, keep knocking, speak out and believe in your dream even when no-one else does,” she says.

Matema-Morgans now has a stand-alone shop employing two people in Newtown and a manufacturing base in Kya Sands, which provides work for 16 more people.

She has developed three lines of soaps, soaks and creams – Oceanic, Rejuvenation and African Vanilla – all celebrating indigenous beauty rituals with natural products.

This year, Serenity Luxury Body Care won Nigeria’s prestigious Bellafricana African Creative’s Best Emerging African Brand Award.

In 2018, her company will launch a long-awaited body care serums, exclusive to Edgars.
“We keep knocking on relevant doors. We will never claim that we have arrived. We are also increasing our staff complement, as opportunities arise,” she says.

Matema-Morgans’ advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
• Passion is key
• Identify your market and then disrupt it
• Understand your business and master your numbers
• Always have a long-term vision of your product offering and timelines and stay up to date with trends.