Zimbabwean raising flag in US

12 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
Zimbabwean raising flag in US Mabel Muchabvunga-Butler

eBusiness Weekly

Leslie Mupeti

Zimbabweans across the globe continue to raise the national flag high representing the country on the international stage. One such Zimbabwean is Mabel Muchabvunga-Butler who is the founder and CEO of Body sugaring and wellness spa in the United States of America. I had the chance to sit down with her and we talked about the beauty industry, branding, entrepreneurship and her latest project Tapira. Enjoy the interview.

LM: How did you find yourself in the body sugaring and wellness industry?

MM:  It so happened that in 2006 we moved to Houston Texas where my husband was doing his doctorate. I applied for a job at a Spa there and they were doing sugaring for hair removal. Although I had studied the technique back in college, I went for practical training to refresh my sugaring skills and get certified to start work at that spa. I was so impressed with the results sugaring had on my clients and how easier it was to work with that I had not waxed anyone since 2006! Ever since I scooped my first ball of sugar, I have not looked back.

LM: Black people in general especially Zimbabweans are not really keen on body wellness and spa treatments. Why do you think that is and do you think it may change in the near future?

M.M: I believe that mindset came from being conditioned to believe that certain things are not for black people or should not be important to black people, which is not true. As the world is progressing, more black people, not just in Zimbabwe, are becoming more welcoming to a change in mindset and wanting to take more care of their skin. Also, with the trend of make-up that has been going on, a lot of people are realizing that flawless make-up has to start with healthy skin on the face and whole body. So more attention is now being paid to how the skin feels and looks. Just having flawless, healthy-looking skin with or without make-up is now such a huge thing. All those are steps in the direction of positive change, which I am happy about.

LM: What does your typical work day look like?

MM: I have actually dedicated certain days to all my businesses. On Mondays I work on growing the businesses, researching and looking for new avenues for promotion and growth. I also do check-ins with my team, doing follow-ups and updates on how everything is going and noting down and attending to what needs attention.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am at Tapira making sure production and packaging are going well. There is also arrangement of product shipping if needed. I also take time to attend to orders and inquiries by customers and potential customers.

Wednesdays and Fridays are for Body Sugaring and Wellness Spa. Even though I have a team there, I still work in the treatment room as it is very important to me to stay connected to my clients. A lot of them have been with me from when I first opened the doors to my Spa almost 13 years ago. Working there also allows me to better understand how Tapira sugaring and skincare products are working for the clients, their feedback serving as first-hand reviews for me. It also helps when I teach sugaring classes as I will be teaching from my up-to-date personal experience of giving these treatments with the products at the Spa.

Saturday and Sunday are my off days and I spend them resting with my family. However, there can never really be an off day for an entrepreneur. When something business-related rises and it is urgent, it has to be attended to.

LM: What do you enjoy most about entrepreneurship? What do you find hardest about it?

MM: I will start with the hardest. Being an entrepreneur is difficult because there is really no one formula on how you are supposed to do things. Other jobs at-least come with certain guidelines on how to go about your job responsibilities. For entrepreneurs it is mostly a series of trial and error until you find exactly what works for you. One can appreciate the growth that comes with the trial and error phase.

The part I enjoy is all the feedback I receive from people I would have worked with. I love hearing how our products and services have changed their lives for the better. Or how the sugaring classes and them using Tapira products has boosted their businesses. I take it as confirmation that I am doing something right as an entrepreneur, making all the hard work worth it.

LM: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you to keep going?

MM: Just seeing the progress I have made so far, especially as a foreigner doing business in a foreign land. I did not know what the chances of success were when I started but seeing what I have built with my two hands allows me to believe that I can even do more. All the positive feedback I get from those I do business with acts as a drive for me to keep going. The fact that I am doing all this for my kids also keeps me going even when the going gets a bit tough.

LM: You operate your Body Sugaring and Wellness Spa in Columbia, South Carolina in the United States. What do you think are the keys to success as an entrepreneur operating in a foreign country?

MM: You need to have an open mind. You cannot operate from the mindset of being an outsider. Get into the community, become one of them, understand how they do things, and see things from their perspective so that you can be able to serve them successfully. Above all, believe in yourself and what you set out to do even when no one else does. All this can be very hard to do but it is very much achievable.

LM: You established Tapira in 2015. Tell us more about the sugaring products under the Tapira Professionals line and have they been launched yet in Zimbabwe?

MM: The Tapira products came about from necessity. The products I was importing for use at my Body Sugaring and Wellness Spa were not really effective. We work in a State that can get humid and the products were simply not holding, the results from using them on clients were not impressive. So I went on to formulate and create my own very much improved products that would deliver on what was amiss in what we had been using and the results have been amazing.

We did a pseudo-launch in Zimbabwe a while back but only to a few people, some of whom were already in the Beauty and Skincare Industry. However, we are definitely working on the Tapira official launch this coming September and both the Tapira Professionals and Tapira Skincare product lines will be available in Zimbabwe from then on. We are very excited about the launch and the Industry professionals in Zimbabwe, as well as the public, should definitely not miss this!

LM: What is the importance of branding when it comes to building and growing a business?

MM: It is very important to build a brand when in business. You build customer loyalty from branding, going from the case of one-time buyers to having repeat customers. It also sets you apart from other competitors, giving a personal touch to your business that allows customers to easily relate with you. People can get to see more of the owner, the business, your values and what you are all about. It also gives value to your products and services.

LM: What advice would you give entrepreneurs that are just starting?

MM: Take time to learn and understand the people you want as customers so that you can better serve them with effective solutions to their problems. Always continue to add value to yourself, never stop learning to increase your value so you can charge more. Do not be scared to charge what you are worth but make sure you are worth what you are charging. Also, do not be shy to talk about your brand whenever and wherever you can, never leave the house without anything that represents your brand, be it a card, business card or even a t-shirt. Market your brand whenever and wherever you can.

LM: What are the biggest mistakes first-time entrepreneurs can make?

MM: One mistake I have noticed is not having attainable goals. It is okay to have this grand plan of having your own business but not setting realistic goals of how you will achieve the plan will make things difficult for you. You are highly likely to get overwhelmed, quickly burn out and quit.  Another mistake is forgetting you will have competitors. It is important to pay attention to them, there is going to be someone who may be doing better than you. Study how they are doing it and work on doing it in your own unique way that will set you apart from everyone else.

LM: What are you most excited about at work right now?

MM: We have new people in our team which means a boost in production, and money lol. It is just good to have new people bringing new energy to the team, we love growth. There is also the official Tapira launch in Zimbabwe that I mentioned before. We are also looking to branch out to the UK. I am working with amazing people for all those things so there is a lot of excitement all around.

LM: How do you build trust with your employees?

MM: I build trust by allowing them to do their job how they see it as most effective but still within our company values. I also maintain open communication, allowing them to freely voice opinions and advice on how best we can grow the business. It is also important to have the feeling of it being OUR business and not just MY business because they are important in it just as I am. I believe taking better care of my employees will cascade into them taking better care of the customers as well.

LM: What do you look for in new team members?

MM: I always make sure to bring on to the team people who have something unique they can add to the company. I look for people who can be great team players, bringing in unique ideas and additions that we will not have at that moment. They have to also love what they do and care about their job.

LM: How do you boost productivity among your employees without causing burnout?

MM: As I mentioned earlier, I still work in the treatment room at the Spa and also do production at Tapira. It makes me appreciate what it takes to burn out when working and also what it takes for a well-rested employee to come back and give their all at work. So I am big on them being well-rested, they even get free services at the Spa to help in that regard.

I also encourage going out as a team, be it for lunch or dinner, just to refresh our minds outside of the work environment. This serves as team building at the same time. Everyone can then bring the best of themselves to work.

LM: What are your plans for the future?

MM: We are excited about the future for both Body Sugaring and Wellness Spa and Tapira. We are looking into having another branch for the Spa. We are working on having more distributors for Tapira around the world. Currently, we have them in the US, Barbados, Canada and Zimbabwe so we are working on having more across Africa and on every other continent. It is going to take a lot of work but we are very excited and looking forward to the future.

LM: Where can our readers find you on social media?

MM: People can find us on our website www.tapirasugaring.com. We are also on Instagram and Facebook.

Leslie Mupeti is a graphic designer and brand strategy expert. He can be contacted on +263 785 324 230 on WhatsApp, @lesmupeti on Facebook and Twitter, and [email protected] on email for feedback


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