Having lost her mother at 12, she held her head up and decided to be an entrepreneur just like her mother. So, at 22, she had already mastered juggling a couple of jobs that earned her capital to start a driving school in the US.
Now at 31 and back home, she is a leadership and business coach, and an independent sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. She shares her challenges and achievements with EveryWoman.
When and where were you born?
I was born in Zomba at the Top Hospital. I am Ngoni and Tumbuka. I belong to the Catholic Church. I am currently staying in Lilongwe.
Tell us about your family.
I am married with one daughter and have a lot of siblings, who are very close, supportive, and are committed to follow our parentsâ€™ footsteps. My father was an author, teacher, and businessman in trading and construction. My mother was a teacher, and businesswoman.
After my mom passed away, I was blessed with another mom Mary Loga. She raised me up from the age of 14. She is humble but deserves a lot of credit for the woman I am today. She helped me to get into my college in America. Mary Loga gave me the gift of education. She is a former educator. Her discipline groomed me as a teenager to work hard and get things done. I thank God for these two women in my life who gave me the balance I needed as a little girl.
What exactly do you do?
I hold seminars to train businesses or companies in team building, customer service, improving sales and more. I am also a motivational speaker. I believe that each one of us has potential and purpose in life. I motivate people, especially women, to start up their companies or business. I am also a business owner in skin care, cosmetics, dresses, and other accessories. I coach women on how to take care of their skin and how to apply make up.
Take us through your education journey.
I attended Gumbu Primary in Ntcheu, and then transferred to Mponda Primary School in Balaka before attending Mwanza Primary. I am proud of the teachers who moulded me into the person I am today. Later on I attended Providence Secondary School before enrolling into Malawi College of Accountancy for a semester in 1998. I moved to the USA and got a scholarship to attend Silver Lake College, for my Bachelor of Business Administration in Management & Psychology Minor. Then I did my Masters in Business Administration â€“ International Marketing at Lakeland College.
How did you start your career path?
After graduating from college, when I was 22 years old, I decided to become an entrepreneur like my parents. I set up Little Ways Driving School in America. I qualified to become a Certified Driverâ€™s Aid Instructor. I married young and had support from my husband who is American. But it was not easy. While running the driving school during weekends, I was attending a practical training in human resources from 4a.m to 8a.m during week days.
From 8 a.m, I worked at the Associated Bank, N.A., and Manitowoc, Wisconsin till 5p.m. After this, I attended my Masterâ€™s classes till 10pm. It was exhausting, but I was determined to succeed. I worked at the bank for 10 years till I rose to become the Vice President of International Banking in the Operations Department. Then to my friendsâ€™ protest, I quit my job to become Mary Kay Beauty consultant.
I needed more freedom and flexibility. I needed to do something that defined me. So I followed my dreams. I went through make-up training and certification for three years with Robert Jones Academy and Mary Kay Cosmetics. However, afterwards, I worked 80 hours a week. It was still challenging because I still worked long hours. I had to postpone having a baby. Eventually, I did. She is one year and seven months old.
What have you learnt from being self-employed?
In my business, I have learned about leadership, managerial, and administrative work. Essential skills like customer service, sales representative training and team building, have been key. My job requires me to be patient, a people person, a great listener, and a down to earth person, to make sure each customer feels important.
Have you ever been under-estimated?
Of course, I remember when I was 23; I was a loan supervisor at the bank. I supervised 15 loan technicians. Their average age was 40 and they were all white. I could hear them say that I was new, black, and young, so I couldnâ€™t tell them what to do. I was in charge. Deadlines had to be met. I made sure we did. I try to overlook that at all cost and do the best I can in any job that I am given. Apart from my skills and qualifications, this attitude helped me to get the jobs I applied for.
Tell us about your involvement with Mary Kay Cosmetics.
I earned the position as an independent sales director in 2010 after staring my own business within Mary Kay Cosmetics. I am able to train other consultants on how to be in the cosmetics business, and I teach skin care. I joined the company in 2009 after quitting my job at the bank. I have managed to get direct training over three times from the make up artist who helped develop and improve the make up for the company. I have received direct training from Dr. Beth Lang who is the dermatologist behind the formulas in Mary Kay products. I am independently working and hoping that the company will branch to Africa where consultants in Africa can take advantage of the amazing compensation plan.
How is your involvement with the above benefitting Malawi?
I am focusing on changing the women faces in Malawi by continuing to give free facials and tips to each woman who shows interest to learn. I believe that my knowledge is wasted if not shared. In the future, if Mary Kay comes to Africa, women can start their own independent businesses from home and bring some income to their family.
What are your dreams?
My dreams are to be a national sales director in both USA and Africa, to lead women of excellence to sell skin care and cosmetic products. Am also inspired to know that in the future, Malawi women will have confidence in their skin and will have the information they so deserve to have in order to be the beautiful woman God intended them to be.
What is it about you that most people do not know?
That I know how to ride a motorcycle! When we had a driving school, we also taught the motorcycle rider coach training for new bikers. I learned to fall off the bike and back on it each time until I learned how to ride it. It was fun.
How was your childhood life?
My childhood was good, rode my bike a lot after school. I was always with my younger siblings, they would follow me everywhere. I cherish those memories.
Do you have any awards that we need to know about?
In 2011, I was awarded for the Outstanding Alumni Award in my college for outstanding achievements in business, career and community work within 10 years of graduation from the college.
I was awarded as the No. 1 at Mary Kay Cosmetics in recruiting of other independent consultants and in overall unit sales as a director in comparison to other units in our national area. I have earned two free Mary Kay cars, 1 diamond, laptop and a lot of household items for achieving high sales.
What do you think about women empowerment? Are we targeting the women that really need it?
I believe that women need to have access to empowerment to help them with low self esteem and confidence. Statistics show that 75% of decisions in a household are made by women so if they are confident, they will make better decisions for their families. We are getting there, but there is a lot of work to be done to help women realise that they can be empowered. I believe that as long as we start with one woman at a time, that woman can pass it on to the next woman.
What challenges do you face in your business and job, and how do you use to get through them?
Typically, in Malawi people copy what you do especially when it looks new and seems to generate money. Women need to be able initiate ideas and start from the ground. They need to embrace their unique talents and use their strengths. It is one thing to learn from others but another to copy. We donâ€™t realise that passion and purpose is what drives most people. So copying wonâ€™t help you succeed. It can be stressful and unfruitful because it wonâ€™t be a natural process.Â