In the spirit of celebrating Women’s Month, Brand Africa recently awarded skin care brand Portia M with ‘the most admired woman-owned business’ award.
Brand Africa was established in 2010 as a brand-led non-profit intergenerational movement to inspire a brand-led African renaissance.
Portia Mngomezulu is the founder and managing director of Portia M, a trail blazing skin care brand, that is available in more than 2 000 major retail stores and in 14 African countries.
The Portia M story started in 2010 when Portia had stretch marks after giving birth to her first child. She was advised by her mother-in-law to use marula oil to treat the stretch marks. Mngomezulu knew where to get the oil as she had grown up playing under a marula tree in Phalaborwa, Limpopo. The effectiveness of the Marula oil in removing the stretch marks planted the seed that has grown to become Portia M, ‘Africa’s leading skin care brand’ as it is affectionately known.
She started small, making the products using a two-plate stove bottling it and
then selling it to friends and fellow church members from the boot of her car. More and more people started to place orders for her products. Although it might have been an option, Mngomezulu never considered going into network marketing.
“From the start I was determined to compete at retail level. I imagined my product on the shelf next to the big international brands. Great and successful entrepreneurs have achieved their purpose and goal by setting a strong and clear vision, and by pursuing it with passion,” she said.
Her next step was to approach the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) for assistance with the testing of the products.
Personal care products are subjected to various tests before being placed on the shelves of major retailers.
It typically includes evaluations for product stability, purity, safety and the effectiveness of preservatives, which protect the product from deterioration.
Once the products were approved Mngomezulu began the process of presenting her brand to major retailers.
After a number of her proposals were rejected, she persevered and eventually managed to secure listings at a few Makro stores which were later followed by Pick n Pay.
The next challenge was marketing, getting the products moving off the shelves. With little to no budget, she turned to social media to promote the products and create a brand presence.
“The word about Portia M began to spread, customers started taking ‘before’ and 'after’ images and telling their stories,” she recalled.
“The value of ‘social proof’ provided by these testimonials has been immeasurable, and is one of our key selling points – real people, real results,” she said.
Portia M Skin Solutions has grown to establish its own manufacturing facility in Sunderland Ridge, Centurion, with ten stand alone Portia M Beauty stores which collectively employ over 170 permanent staff.
The skin care products are now widely available across South Africa at major retailers such as Clicks, Dischem and Shoprite Checkers.
The brand has scooped multiple awards including Silver in the popular Reader’s Choice Awards which was a follow up to the brand’s previous ‘Best In Beauty’ award at Clicks, where Portia M took first place.
This women’s month the Portia M Foundation is focused on uplifting upcoming female- owned businesses by providing them with the support they need to grow and positively impact society.
Portia M is running a competition across their social media pages where up-and-coming small business owners (who are women) can either nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else as to why they think they or their business deserves to be selected to win.
Three business owners stand a chance to win a share of R80 000 in prizes:
- Exposure for their business on One Gospel, a TV channel on Dstv
- A hamper of Portia M products
The competition closes on August 28, 2022.
Three women will be selected.