From side hustle to business empire: The story of Mellisa Mandirahwe Mellisa Mandirahwe

Flora Fadzai Sibanda, [email protected] 

MELLISA Mandirahwe is a woman who inherited her father’s entrepreneurial spirit and turned it into a flourishing cosmetic business. 

She is the daughter of the owner of Cathula Sandals, a shoe-making company in Bulawayo. 

She is also the woman who is supplying more than half the country with quality and affordable beauty products for both men and women.

Mellisa started her cosmetic business in 2017 as a side hustle, while she was already running other businesses in clothing and decoration. 

She had a shop at a local mall in Bulawayo, where she sold wedding dresses and accessories, and also offered catering and decoration services. But she soon realised that it was not working out for her, and decided to try something different.

“Before venturing into this form of business, I was into clothing and decoration. I had a shop at a local mall in the city centre in Bulawayo, where I was selling wedding dresses and accessories while offering catering and decoration businesses. When I saw that it was not working out, I decided to leave and try this on. Little did I know that it would be one of the best decisions I have ever taken,” says Mellisa.

She started by supplying a few people around her circle with cosmetic products and was surprised to see the demand growing and more people placing orders. She realized that there was a gap in the market, as there were few people who were running that kind of business. She saw an opportunity to provide people with easy access to the products they wanted.

‘That is when I realised that this was a great business opportunity because at that time, there were few people actually running that kind of business. This made it difficult for people who were selling and those buying for personal use to get hold of the products, and that is where I came in,” says Mellisa.

She expanded her business and started supplying different cities in the country, such as Gweru and Bulawayo. 

Mellisa says that one of the things that has contributed to her business growth is attending the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair every year, where she gets to showcase her products and attract new customers. She says that her main goal is to make sure that people get these products at an affordable price, and that is why she sells them at reasonable prices.

“Running this kind of business has not been easy over the past few years, but one thing I can say I have learnt from it is that you should not have attachment issues when it comes to business. If you realise that things are no longer working out in a certain venture, rather leave it and start something else before incurring losses,” says Mellisa.

The businesswoman says that her biggest clientele is from pharmacies, shops and individuals, who appreciate the quality and variety of her products. She says that she is proud of her achievements and grateful for her customers’ support.

Mellisa says that juggling business and family has been difficult, and has often made her think of selling her business so she can focus on raising her children. 

She however says that the biggest advice she would give someone is to always soldier on no matter what, and make the most out of the little time she gets from both sides. — @flora_sibanda

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