The global fragrance market is projected to grow to over $50 billion in 2025 (Statista.com). This, however, was not the reason Thamani Thothe decided to venture into the fragrance industry. For her, it was a mixture of genetics and the simple love of perfumes.
“Entrepreneurship runs in my blood. My parents are both successful entrepreneurs and it was only a matter of time until I found my path into the business world,” she says.
Thothe is the Founder and Creative Director of White Label Fragrances, a cosmetics company born in Botswana out of sheer love for perfumes and the beauty industry. Thothe was on vacation when she walked into a fragrance shop and the thought of opening her own came to her. She started the company while working for an insurance company and for a while didn’t leave her comfortable job but rather decided to strategically lean on it to reach her entrepreneurship goals. She decided to take what she learned from her corporate job and implement it into her new business.
It is interesting to note that, instead of quickly jumping into the new world of self-employment, Thamani took the very rare approach of setting up her business structures and ensuring that the business was capable of running on its own without her. She set out to hire human resources that would enable her to operate while she figured out her exit strategy with her job.
For a long time, she was reluctant to quit a comfortable pay check, even though she admits that her first store made enough revenue to allow her to leave. It would take a work trip to Ghana, to convince her it was time. “When I was in Ghana, I looked around and saw how young people were actually doing it. They are confidently running businesses and leading from the front. This gave me the confidence to just go for it,” she recalls.
On the plane ride back home, she worked on a plan to quit her full-time job and in 2017, with the $2,000 she had in savings, she started running her company, hiring 13 full-time staff and opening 2 stores back to back.
The growth of White Label Fragrances has been phenomenal, forcing Thamani to grow as an entrepreneur along with it. She cites her father, who has been in business for over 30 years, as a great sounding board for business ideas even though she says with a smile: “I don’t always listen and I’ve been horribly burned for it,” as she remembers a period when she made a slew of bad business decisions that saw her close one of her stores and reduce her staff complement to five.
Failure doesn’t scare Thamani, in fact, she boldly states: “The way I look at failure now is different. I needed to go through all of it. I now believe that failure is impactful for growth.” It has allowed her clarity in both her leadership style and where she wants to take her business and looking at her new outlook, one is inclined to believe that this entrepreneur is bound to break barriers well into Africa and beyond.
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