At the tender age of only 16, Snikiwe Xaba, a young girl from KZN, started her own skincare product called Natural Me.

She started her business in December 2017 and has been working on expanding it ever since. Snikiwe, who was only in grade 10 at the time, started making her own beauty products because she had trouble with her own skin.

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She comes from a poor background and couldn't afford to buy the expensive products other teens her age were using. Instead of letting that get her down, she decided to create her own products. Her innovative idea ultimately led to her starting her very own business.

The young girl poses proudly next to her product

We asked Snikiwe about her business.

How did it all start?

When I first got to high school I experienced problems with acne. Because I come from a very poor background I was unable to afford expensive face creams and treatment for it. I felt incredibly self-conscious and after trying many home remedies like lemon and brown sugar, I did more research online and found a recipe that seemed very promising.

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I dipped into my savings and bought the ingredients I needed and made a face cream for my personal use. The cream worked so well, I decided it would be a great business venture.

How were you able to raise money to start your business?

I first adopted my entrepreneurial skills from my mom who is a street vendor outside my school. I took her idea and started selling sweets and cupcakes which I would bake myself and sell to my classmates. Coming from a disadvantaged family meant I had to be frugal and I saved all the money I made.

When I first came up with the concept of a skincare range, I had about R5 000 in my savings account. I asked my mom on advice on what my next step should be and she told me I needed to do a lot of research.

I searched online for companies that provided funding for young entrepreneurs like myself, After a while, I managed to find one that was impressed with my business plan and product. They were wiling to help me manufacture it.

I needed nearly R9 000 to produce my first batch which would be sold as samples. My R5 000 combined with R3 700 that my mother had saved was used for this purpose.

What challenges were you faced with when you first started out and how were you able to overcome them?

One of the biggest problems I faced when I first wanted to start my company was finding funding. I searched online and was continuously turned down.

All the rejection I got was definitely taking a toll on my determination but I didn't give up, I persevered and continued trying to find someone who would take me seriously and eventually I did.

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Not giving up was definitely the thing that ultimately led me to finding the company that was willing to manufacture my product for me.

How were you able to handle pressure from school while still keeping focused on growing your business?

Although having a successful business is on the top of my list of goals in life, I am not willing to sacrifice my education which is a big priority for me.

Luckily enough, I have a wonderful support system who help me deal with aspects of the business that I am unable to while I am at school.

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Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?

I would like it to be one of the most successful woman-owned businesses in South Africa. I would also like to help many teens like myself who suffered from low confidence and who are unable to afford expensive products. 

What advice do you have for other young women who dream about owning their own businesses one day?

My advice to young women is to chase your dreams. Job opportunities are hard to come by. Find out what you love doing and do it. Also, ask yourself how what you are doing will help other people. This brings a purpose to your idea or plan.

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