Currently based in Harare, Zimbabwe, Carol Nyazika is the founder of the recently launched Ndanaka Skin and Hair Care line, literally translating to “I am beautiful” in Shona. With a blog by the same name, her business is reflective of her passion. Having studied and qualified as an Organic Skincare Formulator subsequent to studying Social Work, Carol is also the founder of the African Women Association.
Interviewer: Redeem Govathson, Co-editor of The Corporate Canvas
Carol, you are the founder of the recently launched Ndanaka skin care line. A beauty line which literally translates to “I am beautiful.” You are also the owner of a beauty blog which goes by the same name. Please tell us more about Ndanaka as a brand and talk us through how you started the cosmetics line.
I started Ndanaka as a YouTube channel but knew back then (in 2012) that I needed it to be more than YouTube tutorials and a blog. At the time, I was working for Motives Cosmetics. They had entered the UK from America and I was part of the team that helped it to penetrate the UK market. This motivated me to pursue creating my own brand and put my name on it. I trained as a skin care formulator in 2014 because I wanted to know what was in the products and it made it easy for me to grow the line as and when I needed it to. The training was essential for me because I wanted to create a quality brand that can compete on an international level.
I moved back to Zimbabwe in 2016 because I believed that there was an untapped market for natural skin and hair care products made predominantly from indigenous ingredients. At the end of 2016, I felt it was time and I was ready to fully commit to launching and growing my brand. We started selling on January 28th, 2017 and to date we’ve sold out 4 times. The beginning for me wasn’t the hard part because people like new things. I knew that I had a brand when people re-ordered and when they did, they bought for their friends and family too.
There is fierce competition in the cosmetics industry. You are up against many contenders who not only have been in the industry for a long time but also have a global footprint. What do you think it is that makes and will continue to make your product unique and appealing to many African women and men?
I believe that people want natural products and this is the trend right now. I am not intimidated by competition. Competition is good because it makes you want to work harder to strengthen your brand and business and you strive to do more and to be better. As long as I produce quality products, the business will grow. The appeal comes from the results. Results sell.
I am really curious Carol, and I am sure most of our readers are; about the amount of work that goes into launching a cosmetics line. I would imagine there was a lot of exploring, experimentation and research that went into the entire process. Please talk us through what it took and how long it took to finally see your products completed.
The journey has been long. The difficulty comes with finding the right ingredients at an affordable price and finding the packaging to match the quality you have formulated. I came up with 5 products from the beginning. These five are hair butter, body butter, face wash, face oil for men and face oil for women.
I do everything pertaining to the brand. I manufacture everything by hand. I do the inventory, branding, social media management, marketing, labelling, strategizing, meeting the retailers, and so forth. I have 2 ladies that help with customer care and follow ups as this is an important part of the business and cannot be overlooked. We look after our customers well. I recently hired another lady to work in the factory and her job is to disinfect and to stick all the labels, which was a job I did myself before. As demand grows, I’ve learnt to delegate, it allows me to focus on other things and to come up with new products.
I have listened to a powerful talk by one public speaker, Vusi Thembekwayo, wherein he urges entrepreneurs to grow past being start-up companies and into big businesses. My question to you is what heights do you see Ndanaka reaching and what do you have planned to ensure that this business does not remain a “start-up” but becomes the big business that it can be?
I believe that Ndanaka will be a household name across Africa. We have already started receiving inquiries from neighboring countries. To ensure we don’t remain at start-up stage, it is paramount that we operate as a ‘big business’ and this doesn’t mean that we will grow too quickly, but we will grow as demand increases to meet that demand. Our operations and the quality of our brand will ensure that we grow past the ‘start-up’ phase.
I love that you have completely harnessed the power of social media and have been able to use it to market your products. These are great platforms because not only do you get to market the products but you can also very easily get feedback from your customers, thereby improving the quality of your product. I believe though, that Ndanaka being an African product will no doubt be appealing to many Africans, well beyond the scope of social media. What steps are you taking to ensure that your products reach as many people as possible
We have used social media very well to date. Many of our customers find us on social media, hence why we ensure that the quality of our images reflect and resemble the quality of our brand and that people aren’t disappointed when they receive their products. If a quality product is the first key to a successful business, quality presentation is the second.
We are currently looking for distributors and retailers in other countries that can represent our brand effectively and help us to reach as many people as possible.
True beauty is …… confidence
Advice for young women ………. Work hard for what you want and don’t compare yourself to other people but learn from them instead. Always have a contract when starting anything, it doesn’t matter if the person is your friend, put everything in writing. A no is not always final, it could mean ‘not right now’, try again and keep moving. When you have a vision, you have to have the work ethic that moves parallel with the vision. Don’t be rigid to the plans you made initially, learn to adapt to the current situation in order to actualize your vision.
Morning or night or night? I like a balance of both!
Which woman would you Lunch with and what would you order? Lunch with Lisa Price and I would order water or green tea with grated ginger and honey and a chicken meal.
I wish I knew how to… Photoshop
Africans are… Resilient
Worst spending habit… My mother, she gets anything she wants from me!
Best investment… My business
Motivation in 3 words… confidence, persistence, endurance