Pregnancy-related stretch marks inspired Portia Mngomezulu to start selling marula oil and build a multimillion-rand business - with over R10 million in sales in 2018 alone. She was named Pick n Pay's Small Supplier of the Year the past week.
“This is a truly African product with the marula tree being native to the continent,” Mngomezulu, originally from Limpopo, says proudly. “The world needs to know of the immense healing benefits that marula oil offers all skin types.”
Mngomezulu held a steady career in IT before her pregnancy in 2010, but after she saw the impact of Marula oil on her stretch marks, she invested R200 to start Portia M Skin.
Initially, she bought marula oil from local women, bottled it and sold the oil as a side-business to friends and family, reinvesting the income back into the company.
By 2013, she quit her full-time job and expanded her range to include body lotions, face creams, and face washes - all clinically tested and approved.
In 2015, Pick n Pay partnered with her through their Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Programme and placed her products in 20 corporate and family stores
Between 2016 and 2017 her sales jumped by nearly 2000% as the store list expanded nationally. Today her product is in 432 stores and her sales are already up 61% this year alone.
Portia M Skin is already available in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, and employs 27 full-time staff.
Mngomezulu said her biggest learning curve since entering the retail sector was to trust the process and to be patient.
“A no isn’t a no, it only means you have to do it better than before,” she says.
“And if a buyer tells you a year, it might seem far away, but there are many things you can correct during this time.”
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