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WHEN PASSION DRIVES BUSINESS -- Devine Scents

Nothing is more memorable than the potency of a scent. It is no wonder celebrities in the likes of David Beckham, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Beyoncé Knowles and others in the same limelight brand expensive colognes after their names. That, we can only assume is an extension of themselves through the usually expensive cologne.

Depending on what it is intended to do, a scent can evoke memories and inspire feelings. Whether pungent, floral or sweet, you cannot draw features of it or touch it. But your feelings identify with its evasive features. 

Take Matilda Mpai for example. Her passion for scents and beautiful and orderly things led her to venture into an industry that is still at its infancy locally. She produces bath salts, room and car fragrances, body lotions, hand washes, heel balm for cracked heels, soaps, and lip balms and related products.

Trained as a Home Economics teacher in Swaziland, she founded Divine Scents in 2009. “I was curious to find out what goes into making beautifully smelling bath salts. Again I felt a customer should not buy pure glycerin separately and mix with body lotion, I felt It was expensive and tedious for them, it should not be that way, so I went into the internet and researched,” says Mpai.

“I realised that our weather here is too dry and our skins require skin lubricants that can moisturise them  well enough to cope with our weather. I needed to do something and I am glad people have accepted my products and are happy with the results,” she says during a recent visit at her Mokolodi mansion where she operates her small business from. 

Matilda tells how her business, which procures raw materials mainly from South Africa has overcome many challenges: “Since I started operating, it’s been difficult to source raw materials locally; there are no reliable raw materials sources, some of the materials that I get around are bee wax, coarse salt from Sua pan, and Morula fruit oil, the rest such as chemical scents, virgin baobab oil, soya wax and others are from S.A.”

We are sitting in her clean, well arranged guest quarters which she has turned into a business place where she works, packages and stores her products. She tells us of her dream. She wants to see other women benefit from her small business which she hopes to expand soon. “I am working on getting women to form clusters capable of producing a consistent supply of raw materials especially Morula fruit,” she says.  

Her products-DIVINE SCENTS though highly praised by her clients have not hit the shelves as yet. That, you want to believe is the reason you find only South African and mostly European products in our shops.

Asked why she still sells from her home, she says she is currently working on satisfying Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) regulations to ensure that her products are safe.

And like any business, Divine Scents often comes across challenges. And she ensures she finds ways of dealing with them profitably, which may include seeking advice where necessary.

 “I remember that when I began, I had no funds for labels and I created an opportunity for myself to sell fat cakes to raise funds for labels at a school event. I raised about P3, 000, and this has taught me that if you want something, go for it, give it your best, o seka wa re batho ba tlaa reng, keep your eye on your goal,” she advises.

Matilda who is the wife to former Barclays managing director, Mr Wilfred Mpai says that at the time she sold fat cakes her husband was an MD.  She was not bothered by the fact and what people would say. She simply went about selling the fat cakes at school functions and made her money.

“I am a very simple person, I enjoy using my hands, I cannot sit idle, I just like practical things, if you put me in an office I will go crazy!” she warns about her personality.

She advises that in life for one to lead a happy and successful life, it is important for one to understand what they are good at and live their lives rather than compare themselves to others. “Do not do anything to please anybody, I mean I live in a big house but I’d still be happy in a small house. I wouldn’t mind selling magwinya if it means me having to reach my business goal,” she says. ENDS

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