Being the owner of a lipstick brand happened by mistake for 27-year-old Connie Bhebhe. Trying to run her first business Cobe Fitness was a full-time job, as a result, her appearance was neglected. “I was in fitness wear and a ponytail all the time, it was sad. I decided I needed to transform.” This is when she decided to start wearing makeup to give her appearance a much-needed glow-up.
Identifying a business opportunity
Connie realised there was an opportunity in the market after a trip to Canada. “I ordered some lipsticks from Anastasia Beverly Hills which I loved but then when I returned, I wanted more. I couldn’t find anything affordable or long wear here so my friend jokingly suggested I start my own. Three months later, we launched five shades; Queen B, Durban Shore, Four Seasons, Bright Velvet and Dark Berry.”
She launched the business in December 2016, and she hasn’t looked back. The business has grown substantially since then, she now sells 14 lip shades. The second time around, as a business owner, things fell into place quite easily for Connie. She was able to get her business up and running in just a few month. “Luckily, I knew someone in cosmetics who made the process easy. I told them what I want and after three rounds of samples, I was content with the formula. This formula has the perfect balance of long lasting and high pigment without being dry.”
Growing a customer base
Based in Johannesburg, she had to be smart about how she sells her products to reach a mass market. Connie created two avenues for customers to get hold of her products. The first is an online store where you can buy the product and have it delivered to your home. She also created a network of people from across the country who are selling the product on her behalf.
Running a business prior to launching Connie Transform taught her important lessons.
“If you’re a young entrepreneur or a first-time entrepreneur, my advice is to go into new and growing industries instead of trying to invest something that has never been done. The latter is a much longer and discouraging process. If a market already exists then you’re more likely to have success from the get go. Make sure to do it better than your competitors, don’t go into a market just to be like others, go in to take over.”
Presentation has also been important in growing her customer base. “An important lesson I learnt was how to display the product well enough that someone will take a chance on shopping online,” says Connie.
“Clear imagery always helps and using your captions to explain your product or service. Don’t assume people know. I made this mistake with my first company,” she adds.
“The plan is to grow and produce more cosmetic products and to grow our list of distributors to at least 100 women then go into other SADC countries. We are launching lashes this year too,” she says.
Her main goal for Connie Transform is to reach Kardashian cosmetic products levels of success. “I’d like to see the company sell out new products within hours of launching. That will be awesome. I’d be very proud,” she concludes.