When Mikie Monoketsi and her then-husband started a call centre business using her life savings they didn’t think they were going to lose both the business and the marriage, but that is exactly what happened.
Mikie had a choice to either save them both even though her energy and confidence were non-existent at the time or to move on with her life.
Mikie decided to move on with her life and what followed was a roller coaster ride. The bills were piling up and keeping the household running while dealing with divorce proceedings proved to be both taxing and impossible to do without money.
She was done crying and blaming herself for going into that business. While looking for other ways to keep the debt collectors at bay, she decided that whatever business she was going to start had to deal with building confidence and empowering other women.
A few months later, Mama’s Spices and Herbs was born.
Mama’s Spices and Herbs
Starting a business with just R10 000 is one thing, sustaining it is another. This is one of the many lessons Mikie learned soon after starting Mama’s Spices and Herbs.
The main reason why her first venture failed was because she neglected to do proper research before starting the business. To make matters worse, she also neglected to put processes in place to minimise risks while the business was up and running.
Learning from her past mistakes, Mikie went into townships and villages to understand what her potential customers use in their kitchens to season food.
With the help of a certified seasoned spices and herbs manufacturer Mikie began producing affordable high-quality spices and herbs. She soon realised that her research focused solely on the products and not necessarily the sales and marketing of the products she was producing which proved to be problematic.
Mikie thought retailers would easily stock high-quality spices and herbs, however, getting your products onto their shelves is not an easy task especially for a new female-black owned brand no one knows about.
She was stuck with products and no retail house behind her once again leaving her feeling defeated.
“Marketing and sales of products is not an easy task. I nearly lost everything once again due to not paying attention to the lifeblood of the business, without sales there is no business. I now know better,” she says.
Thinking Outside The Box
Mikie’s saving grace came in the form of a gentleman who delivered potatoes to Kota fast food restaurants in Cosmo City. Their chance encounter allowed her to tap into his existing clientele which then sparked new sales and marketing opportunities.
Her spices were such a hit in the restaurants that customers soon started enquiring about them hoping to get their hands on some to try on other foods in the comfort of their own home.
Mikie decided to hire the local fast food restaurants as agents, selling directly to their customers on a commission basis. This move not only allowed Mikie to save her business but helped her build a national network of agents.
Mikie has always had a desire to empower other women with her business and with Mama’s Spices and Herbs doing so well, she was able to take her brand in a new direction altogether.
She recently introduced Mama's Flat Stomach Tea to market. The product has done so well many of the agents selling the tea have given up their jobs to focus on selling full time.
“My focus is on empowering women like me and I plan to do so for the next 15 years,” Mikie says.
Looking ahead she is aiming to launch a new product line of basic makeup kits. The kits which include a foundation, mascara, lip gloss, and concealer, are suitable for different skin types and have been special formulated for use in harsh African weather conditions.
“I am one person who has made it my business to understand the black female consumer market in South Africa. Black female consumers don’t just buy things for the sake of it. They buy things they see will add value to their lifestyle.”
Mikie Monoketsi is living proof that sometimes success is possible despite your circumstances.