#UnbreakableS2 - Top 6
Mirriam Kgole Kanju, the founder of LIOMI perfumes, is the powerhouse behind a black, woman owned entrepreneurial venture and one of the #UnbreakableS2 finalists. We chatted to the passionate perfumer about her journey breaking barriers in her industry and her passion to empower those around her.
Q: How would you define yourself and what has inspired your entrepreneurial journey?
A: I’m a 26 year entrepreneur, originally from Limpopo and Joburg raised. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to study after matric and ended up studying Public Relations just because I liked PR and Media. Soon after studying, I realised that that wasn’t what I wanted to do. After graduation, I started working for a perfume company and saw the opportunity to start my perfume line. After falling pregnant, deciding to leave my job and reselling perfumes, I met my mentor, who is one of the biggest perfume manufacturers in the country, and began making perfumes. I started doing pop up markets and it grew into something so much bigger.
Q: How was the experience entering a market or industry that doesn’t have prominent young, black, female role players?
A: It was extremely intimating, but I never give up, I always get what I want. I told myself that I was not going to stop until I found the best quality ingredients in South Africa. One of the challenges I had was that people would compare my products to international luxury brands and it was emotionally draining because people had the notion that good quality perfumes could not be affordable.
Q: You exude a great deal of passion. Where does your drive and tenacity come from?
A: I want to create jobs and create a luxury brand that is black owned because many people associate South African brands with substandard quality. The feedback to my product has been amazing, and that’s what keeps me going. Giving South African’s the chance to source a great locally produced product at affordable prices really drives me.
Q: What inspired LIOMI as the name of your brand?
A: I’m very big on meanings; I wanted a name that I was emotionally attached to. I decided to combine my name, my daughter’s name and my husband’s name and that's where LIOMI was derived from. It’s like my second born and that’s why I can’t have it fail.
Q: What inspired you to enter CAN DO!’s #UnbreakableS2 competition and what has the overall experience been like?
A: It was daunting when I first saw the competition as I knew a lot of people would enter with great ideas, but I realised I’m one of the few black, female entrepreneurs in the country that makes perfume from scratch. I don’t import anything or buy ready made products. So I thought I had an amazing story, and I love the fact that they offer resources as opposed to hard cash which is in line with what I believe in.
Q: Lastly, what is your vision for the future of LIOMI?
A: I want to get my products into other African countries. I want to create jobs and break the notion that everyone has to work a 9-5, some people are built for it and others aren’t. I ultimately want to inspire people to run their own businesses.
Learn more about Mirriam's inspirational journey by checking out the below vid and you can vote her to win R 100 000 in business resources by visiting http://bit.ly/2JXxCKE