HARARE – Collin Powell once said “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure”.
With the same attitude, when other businesses have buckled and closed under the current economic hardships, Oceane Perfumes has proven its stamina and has withstood the whirlwind of the slow economy and business environment.
With their Operation Director Mrs. Blessing Mashangwa scooping 3 awards this year alone, our reporter caught up with this visionary to talk about her empowering leadership style and her giving back to the community. Those who have worked with Mrs Blessing Mashangwa talk about her unwavering faith in the Almighty God, they talk about her compassion. They talk about her integrity and courage. She is living evidence that as a business woman it is possible to hold yourself accountable to the public, to your family and to your good self.
HOW IT ALL STARTED…
Mrs. Mashangwa started being a business woman at the age of 21. At that time she was distributing Avon. She was the first ever woman to be given sole distributorship of Avon Cosmetics in Zimbabwe, which was officially launched at Meikles hotel in February 2002.
The Launch of Avon products was a big event as reported by Herald in 2002 in an article "Avon Comes to Zimbabwe". She distributed Avon products in outlets like Greatermans, QV Pharmacies, Medix Pharmacies and Meikles countrywide.
From the experience she had gained from Avon, she decided to start her own business. Oceane Perfumes was launched in 2005. Because of her belief that women are very capable, Oceane was started mainly to empower Zimbabwean women and it later- on opened its doors to men.
Her priorities were making a difference, creating jobs and building a legacy and she has never taken her eyes off these goals.
I have a bachelor’s degree in business and working towards my Master’s degree. I’m the Operations Director, responsible for strategic planning as well as sales and marketing.
SO MANY AWARDS IN A SHORT SPACE OF TIME….
I believe God’s timing is the best. It has been 12 years of working very hard and it has been a steady growth. It is only now people are beginning to notice how far we have come and how hard we have worked.
HOW OCEANE IS IMPROVING PEOPLE’S LIVES….
Facing the fact that the country is going through economic hardships cannot be disputed, but what I can dispute is someone’s insistence that they cannot change their own lives. We have distributors who are civil servants, pensioners some who had no source of income at all and the only decision they had to make was joining us and now they earn a decent living through their commissions because $5 commission per bottle is a lot of money, some are earning more than $1000 per month. We have many with day jobs but they are selling our products to supplement their income, some end up making more than their salary. Besides commissions we run raffle draws were our distributors have walked away with many household items and cars even Mercedes Benz.
WHY GIVE PEOPLE YOUR PRODUCTS WITHOUT CAPITAL….
We could see many companies were doing cosmetics but the hiccup for many aspiring distributors was capital. We stepped in because we wanted to cater for those people who had the capacity to sell but lacked capital .Anyone can come and get products from us without capital and instantly start to earn a living. Our distributors only pay for the products they would have sold after 30 days; this means our distributors can sell as many products as they can each month. There isno risk of our distributors being stuck with the product if they don’t get sales, they can return them, and it’s a win-win situation.
WHAT GETS YOU UP IN THE MORNING…
Hearing the testimonies of our distributors, how their lives have changed through selling Oceane Perfumes products, seeing the progress they will be making in life gives me the jab to get up every morning.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET MARKET……
We cater for the market that wants to smell good without spending too much. Original perfumes are expensive, but many fail to realize they are paying more for the nice box and bottle than they pay for the actual product. Our perfumes smell the same as original perfumes, though they are packaged in simple but elegant bottles.
WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE AND HOW DO YOU OUTWIT COMPETITION…..
What makes us unique is we are the pioneers. Others followed because they were either inspired or it was through envy but I believe there is a God given kind of grace that follows pioneers and visionaries of anything. We don’t do anything to outwit competition. I believe each business is running its own race, no need to outwit each other. However what I can say is that we are the market leaders and trendsetters and others follow.
WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM OTHER PERFUME COMPANIES?…….
It’s simple, for 12 years we have remained true to what we are able to do and we always deliver. I have seen a lot perfume companies promising their distributors a lot of incentives but in the end they don’t even deliver a third of what they would have promised. Some have gone as far as promising cars which they fail to deliver. Our other strength is that we never run out of stock and our distributors are our treasure.
TOWNS OCEANE IS FOUND…..
Apart from Harare, we have offices in the City of Kings – Bulawayo. We have strong distribution networks in Gweru, Kwekwe, Beitbridge and Mutare. We will soon be setting up a distribution centre in Masvingo. Our head office for Africa is in South Africa.
YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR….
It has been a long, long journey. It has been extremely exciting at times, but mercilessly painful at other times. When I was young I would write a long list of everything I wanted to do and be.Unfortunately, no one warned me how much work,tears,sweat and sacrifice I would have to put into it.So everything I know, I had to learn the hard way.
AND TABITHA FOUNDATION……
Tabitha foundation is our charity arm; it’s our way of giving back to the community. We mainly reach out to widows, old people left in the care of young children, homes and this year we gave our second scholarship to a very bright young girl who had passed Grade 7 but could not afford fees for Form 1.
At the Miss Deaf Competition, we were the only company that gave away hampers to all contestants, so in our own small way we are making a small difference. Tabitha foundation is fully funded by our sales so every time someone buys our perfume they are changing a life.