There are many reasons people start a business on the side: to bring in extra cash, to grow it into a full-time job or simply to purse their passion.

Whatever your motivation, Mahlatse Mashao and Onthatile Ratshoafo share what it takes to make it work

Former flatmates Mahlatse Mashao and Onthatile Ratshoafo run Dipoles Flowas, which offers “luxury flowers and gifting for all occasions” in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Mashao’s day job is in client support at Uber SA, while Ratshoafo’s an interior decorator and a make-up artist for MAC Cosmetics. The two women shared a flat from 2012-2014, when Mashao was studying for a diploma in entrepreneurship and Ratshoafo had just obtained a diploma in IT.

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“We both always believed in making our living space a home away from home, and flowers were a weekly must-have for us,” recalls Mashao.

It was while she was ill and in hospital that she came across a photo of beautifully boxed flowers. That gave her the idea of starting a flower business on the side and she immediately shared it with Ratshoafo.

Back in the office, Mashao’s colleagues helpfully suggested potential business titles, with one lady – Ntshadidi Ntlabati – coming up with a proudly South African name: Dipalesa, which means “flowers” in Setswana. Mashao and Ratshoafo loved it.

The women threw themselves into building their side-hustle with all the free time they had available. They admit it hasn’t been easy.

“My existing job allows me to engage in professional networking to start building contacts,” says Ratshoafo. “But the obvious drawback is that one doesn’t have much time left over to pursue the business.”

She and Mashao work on Dipalesa Flowas on weeknights and over weekends. “Weeknights are no-sleep nights,” she says. “But whatever it takes, we make it work.”

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They split their duties according to their individual strengths. Ratshoafo handles events and packaging, Mashao oversees marketing and administration, and both women do arranging and deliveries. Ratshoafo’s based in Pretoria and Mashao in Johannesburg, so they stay in touch throughout the day, often via video-call.

They recently launched an e-commerce site and while boxed flowers are still their best-sellers, they’ve added a range of new products, hoping to grow the business into a full-time venture.