A dream, a heart and 19 years of sweat and toil is what took cosmetologist Sarinah Matema Morgans to clinch her biggest business deal yet in the latter part of 2017: supplying her own range of beauty and body care products to South Africa’s foremost retailer.

 

 

At the end of November the self-named Serenitii Luxury Body Care BY Sarinah range of products will hit the shelves at 70 premium Pick ‘n Pay stores in preparation for the festive season. Although timed to coincide with the busiest gift exchange period, the contract is not seasonal but ongoing. 

 

Being the shrewd businesswoman that she is, Sarinah is already aligning her operational systems to exploit the deal as leverage for access into markets in neighboring 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 said.

 

The year 2018, according to Sarinah, looks to hold great prospect for her business. After approaches from various local and international retailers, the Serenitii luxury body care BY Sarinah brand aims to list with at least one international retailer. This is a long way from 2003 when Sarinah left Limpopo as a young 20-year old, with little work experience but a big dream of becoming part of the beauty and cosmetics industry in South Africa. With only a couple of years as a casual worker in her home province under her belt, Sarinah came to Johannesburg to pursue that dream.

 

Slowly but surely, but always with a passion to do more, Sarinah worked for international cosmetics companies such as Estee Lauder, Clarins and Chanel. In between her demanding hours, many spent on the shop floor as a sales assistant, she decided to further her studies and graduated first through the Institute of Marketing Management and then through Vega’s Brand Leadership course in Brand and Marketing Management. 

 

By the time Sarinah left the safety of the corporate world and a well-paid job, she had risen to brand manager of Eye Slices, another Proudly South African member 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. Over her years of speaking to customers and clients, she believed she knew what women wanted. They wanted natural, not synthetic creams and lotions.

Sarinah set about, whilst she was still working, sourcing, combining and testing a range of oils into body creams and soaps. The testing and verification process alone cost a fortune, but even after banks turned down her request for start-up funding, she continued to work on developing a brand identity - a name and a logo - ready to launch her own company, when the time was right.

 

Then, in 2008, disaster struck and Sarinah’s dreams nearly died with her after a horrendous car accident. A young boy, not yet qualified to drive, and who had stolen his father’s car, smashed into Sarinah. She spent a month in hospital, recovering from severe whiplash and internal bleeding. But fortune favors the brave and Sarinah struggled and soon got back on her feet. She was also one of the lucky few who, after the crash, successfully concluded a claim with the Road Accident Fund. At first, after so many weeks lying in hospital, Sarinah thought she would spend the money on herself, but the pragmatic business woman she had been before the accident prevailed.

 

She made the decision to put the money into her fledgling business and in so doing, set it on its course for success. Eventually she was ready to take a great leap of faith and go out on her own with Serenity Luxury Body Care. She navigated the web of red tape, registration, compliance and legislation that can ensnare many young entrepreneurs, and officially launched her company in October 2016. She immediately set about seeking the endorsement of the Proudly South African label, which is a verified tick of quality assurance, and a guarantee that the company complies with the highest standards of labour, environmental and waste management practices.  

 

Now, Sarinah’s manufacturing base in KYA-Sands provides work for 16 people. She is able to pay them all market related salaries. The brand has developed 3 lines of soaps, scrubs, soaks and creams called Oceanic, Rejuvenation and African Vanilla, all celebrating indigenous beauty rituals with natural products that women can feel good about using. 


 

In March this year, Serenity Luxury Body Care won Nigeria’s prestigious Bellafricana African Creative’s Best Emerging African Brand Award. Many more accolades are set to come her way. But Sarinah recognizes that the hard work is only just starting. Everything she has done so far has been in preparation for this moment. From dismissing those dissenting voices in her head that told her to give up and go back to a proper job, she is now ready to take Serenity Luxury Body Care to the next level. She knows that the order for Pick and Pay may not be renewed if she doesn’t deliver on time and in the quantities they need. She knows she has to continually work on her product offering, but nothing is going to stop her. 

Sarinah is passionate about the natural beauty of African women and indigenous African products that enhance that beauty. She is passionate about job creation, and she is passionate about being Proudly South African.

 

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