At the core of fragrance maker Tsepho Mdake’s love for aromas, is how customers react to different types of smells.
Mdake, who owns Shangilia Boutique, started producing fragrance products five years ago.
“We produce room sprays, sanitisers and fragrance salts which can be used for spaces like cars, wardrobes, bedrooms and other home spaces,” she told Vutivi News.“Our products come in plastic and glass bottles, diffusers and decanters.
“We have glass and plastic containers for sanitisers and we also have sanitiser pens which contain 5ml of sanitisers,” she said.
The fragrances include bubble gum for children’s sanitizers, and lemongrass and camphor for adults.
“Our home fragrances include lemongrass, marula, a fusion of apple and pear and a fusion of tonka bean and vanilla, which are found in our diffusers and room sprays,” Mdake said.
Mdake, whose products are in several Johannesburg shops, said her drive to be an entrepreneur started in school already.
“I attended Hillview High in Tshwane and when I was in Grade 10, I started selling in the school bus, and that is where I started learning financial management and responsibility at a young age,” she said.
“When I went to university, I knew that I would not be working for someone for a long time, but I knew that I would be creating jobs and running businesses.”
Mdake studied somatology (a branch of anthropology) and aromatherapy at the University of Johannesburg. After graduating in 2004, she opened a spa when she spotted a market for fragrances.
“I am truly fascinated with what aroma does to individuals. I realised that fragrances improve people’s moods, make people feel nostalgic and generally uplift people. When my spa business closed down, I had to focus more on producing fragrances and products because we were initially focusing on spa services,” she said.
“Our products became very popular, and thanks to government organisations like the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency, I was able to showcase my products in other countries.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the globe, she travelled to countries including China, Nigeria and the United States to sell her products.
“After the pandemic broke out, we had to adapt and become acquainted with the local market, be known locally and strengthen our market presence,” she told Vutivi News.
“When the pandemic struck, people held closer to their rands and did not want to spend money on luxury items. We decided to adapt by producing sanitisers. We saw that people were tired of using strong sanitisers that excite people.”
Her company also started producing bath salts which, to her surprise, sold faster than diffusers and fragrances.
Mdake believes her product has a competitive edge because of its packaging, and her company can advise customers on what products best suit their needs.
Her company has now entered into partnerships with others to help it produce over 1000 units of products like sanitisers, as its facilities cannot handle the large orders.