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Zamabuya Muhanelwa: Building a Bespoke perfume Brand in South Africa

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

"It all started with me buying different perfumes at once so I can layer them and build up my own scent. This made me realise how creative I can be and thus challenged myself to take a short perfumery course in the year 2020 to refine my laboratory skills."

Q1:Tell us about your yourself:

My name is Mrs. Zamabuya Muhanelwa (28), a Public Relations (PR) and Communications guru turned business owner. I am a qualified perfumer and an expert in creating perfume compositions and concepts of fragrance aesthetics by conveying abstract notions and moods with perfume compositions. My fascination for perfumes was triggered by a perfume factory I visited in Dubai during a trip, from that point on, I never looked back.

Q2:What does your company do?:

Indoni Perfumes trading under the name Indoni is a bespoke perfume manufacturer and seller founded in 2018. We provide authentic quality perfumes at reasonable rates. Furthermore; offer cutting edge and nourishing bath bombs, reed diffusers, scented candles, lotions and bath oils

Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:

It all started with me buying different perfumes at once so I can layer them and build up my own scent. This made me realise how creative I can be and thus challenged myself to take a short perfumery course in the year 2020 to refine my laboratory skills.

Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:

We provide authentic quality perfumes at reasonable rates. Furthermore, we offer cutting edge and nourishing bath bombs, reed diffusers, scented candles, lotions, and bath oils. Indoni brings a luxurious top quality product at a relatively affordable rate; this hails from our strong belief that luxury is comfort.

Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:

The biggest challenge was being able to manage cash flow; for someone with no Accounting background, I did not know how important it was to understand all business financial dynamics and manage them well. To overcome this, I invented a cash flow system.

Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:

Resilience. Running a business is not easy; especially at the beginning phase. Had I had resilience and never took the many breaks I took due to not seeing results, I would have been even further than I am now..

Q7: What are your 3 priorities right now:

Our biggest priorities right now include:

  1. Expansion (adding more stores and products)

  2. Exposure (Get more people to know about the business and its offerings)

  3. Empower & mentor (Empower as many young people through hiring opportunities)

Q8: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:

More than anything, to see the company grow beyond just South Africa. I see myself having establishments even outside of the country.

Q9: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:

I would say be willing to start small and learn as much as you can in the process.

What Zamabuya Muhanelwa has created through Indoni Perfumes is a perfect example of the rising Prosumer market. The terms prosumer and prosumption were coined in 1980 by American futurist Alvin Toffler referring to a group of individuals who produce what they consume. This means that most consumers and future entrepreneurs will turn their passion and what they consume the most into profitable businesses that also create jobs and Impact. Women make up the largest market of perfume consumers. Over 31 Billion USD is spent on perfume every year and 59% of that is spent by women. To see Zamabuya Muhanelwa turning her passion into a profitable business is exciting. I look forward to seeing them open more stores across South Africa and seeing their brand reach beyond South Africa.

Globally, ingredients for most perfumes are often imported from a number of raw materials suppliers across Africa. Such ingredients are then processed, only to be re-exported into the commercial side of the Africa market as finished product, which is where the money is. The Africa continent is beginning to look inward to explore and support ways that local production can be encouraged to increase the production of perfumes within the Africa continent. I am very thrilled by what Zamabuya Muhanelwa and her team at Indoni Perfumes are doing, manufacturing perfume locally whilst building a bespoke brand that provides affordable luxury to the South African market, creating jobs and making an impact. I commend them for their incredible tenacity and visionary focus. Wishing them success as gear the company's growth beyond the Southern Africa trade corridor.

Nicole Petyt CEO - Africa Women Enterprises

This is a very competitive area in which to expand Indoni’s business. It is an excellent indicator that Indoni has been in business since 2018. While the primary focus of the business is fragrance, it has diverted nicely into the self-care/self-indulgence area that is so necessary today and has two areas of focus.

Looking forward to seeing them try to focus on building the brand Indoni into a very recognisable brand in the competitive market it is placed in. Before hiring more young people, build the brand. Also to secure some contracts with up-market bush lodges or hotel chains for some of the products.

I can imagine that most large food chains like Pick ‘n Pay and pharmacy chains like Dischem may be open to stocking high-end personal care items like Indoni. My parting words to Indoni team: as you expand your products range, prioritise: adding doors to your distribution.

Precious Kalu Author, Digital Marketing Expert & avid Data Science Student

Luxury is indeed a Comfort item that's proving to be in increasing demand. I find Indoni's creative aspect, quite appealing. From a consumer goods ROI perspective: perfume is an ideal product to dabble into, because on the demand side: consumers, across the human spectrum, will always need perfumes. Such a demand is not about to recede, even as the African continental population is seeing an upwards mobility in population growth. Ms. Zamabuya has already demonstrated capability to carve out a name for herself in this space, given her 4 year journey to date, as she opens doors for young people to find exciting employment with her, well beyond her profit goals. From both a profit and social impact perspective: Indoni is quite attractive. Zamabuya naming thesis of Indoni resonates with me.

Borrowing from a brilliant unpacking of the name behind, Motlalepula Maduna a respected Content Creator with Powerfm , she explains “Indoni” as: an Nguni language word describing a specific black berry. Across the South African hemisphere the term “Indoni yamanzi” (the berry of the waters) means “a beautiful young woman with respect, pride and dignity.

Which explains my fascination with Zamabuya 's naming thesis and considerateness, in naming her brand to position it to capture the market so uniquely. Wishing Zamabuya and her team many miles of success ahead, as their fragrances emblazon the lives of many.

Connect with Zamabuya Muhanelwa

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1 comment

1 Comment

Kenneth Igiri
Kenneth Igiri
Sep 30, 2022

So many opportunities in our growing African markets. Well done, Indoni.

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