Can you briefly tell us a bit about yourself including your full name 

My name is Shantelle Long Booysen, I am the founder of Elim Spa Products International, a company that manufactures a premium pedicure and manicure range and exports.

I am a mom to two beautiful teenage boys and a wife to Ben for nearly two decades.

Can you please tell us about your business, when it was established and what you do? 

Elim was born in 2004.  It has been a long journey but I have loved every single moment.  I think I am one of the entrepreneurs that can say that I fell into every single trap there was along the way.  I learned so much in the process, met so many individuals who added to my success and enjoyed every step of it.

We design new concepts for clients with an established clientele.  We also export our own brand to over 18 countries globally.

How did you get where you are  today, and who/what helped you along the way?

That is a really easy question to answer.  Its all about the people.  We often think of people when we do sales and say people buy from people, but it is also people that grow people.  We don’t grow ourselves.  I have been very fortunate to have people on my journey for as long as I can remember that helped, supported and encouraged me.

My mom took over the finance section of my business in the early days when I still thought VAT and tax were the same thing and government was billing me twice. 

I had coaches and mentors who pushed me into my little Huyndai Atos to go see my first clients nearly two decades ago.  

I have a group of friends that I trust and that I know loves me. I can go to them and be vulnerable and sad and I know they will be honest with me and my secrets are safe with them.

My husband supports me tremendously.  He sold his favourite Land Rover to sponsor my first ever trade show.  That’s love.

What inspired you to venture into business, in particular your line of business?

I designed a pedicure because I wanted something that worked and a premium grade product.  Everything at the time felt like it was designed for feet.  I wanted something for my feet that was designed for the face.  A facial for my feet, this was not available at the time and I decided to develop the range.

I have always loved business, I love the relationship part of it.  I love people.  I love steering a ship.  I am not so good at being a deckhand though.  I love owning my own time.  I think every entrepreneur needs to be a bit of rebel deep down inside.  It also gives me a playground to be creative and to do what I love.  

I am in charge of my finances and my time.  That gives tremendous freedom to the mind.

Did you have any entrepreneurship training or skills prior to launching?

Nope, nothing, I think I was born seeing opportunities and Dr Google was my teacher.  I knew I had a great plan and I knew it could work.  All the information is out there, you just need an attitude to overcome obstacles, carry on, solve issues and believe in yourself and your product.  I love attending interesting workshops, learning is a lifestyle.  I never think I got it wrong, I just get better at it daily.

What are some of the challenges you have endured and how have you overcome these? 

Cosmetics is a very protective industry, people don’t share information easily and I had to figure out things myself.    Registering products has been an obstacle, it is a very expensive process.  We also don’t have access to a lot of packaging for our industry in SA.  That makes it difficult.  For the rest, we are in the perfect position to export.

Our government supports exports in the NDP, they have placed a lot of courses out there that you can learn from and provide funding for emerging exporters.  We just have to make use of it.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

Elim is for the Pedi- connoisseur .  The client who requires a superior pedicure with premium ingredients.  We do not charge much more but we service clients who are informed about ingredients and want something specific.

The range is one of two in the world and is result orientated.  It is not only a relaxing experience but a range that deals with specific issues that we don’t like talking about in the spa.  Things like a pedicure that addresses foot odour or fungi on the nails.  Even just hard heels.

Its quiet clear that you have broken ground and you are doing well. Where do you see your business in the near future? 

Elim is the authority in the Mani and Pedi Market and we keep developing and breaking ground in our industry.  We are busy putting a plan together to upgrade therapists around the world.  We want them to look like they just stepped out of a Swiss Finishing School.  We want the treatments to be lifted to a higher level.  I want them to look, smell and feel like an Emirates hostess if you know what I mean.

What advice would you best give to emerging entrepreneurs who are financially struggling?

Don’t rely on funding and grants, if you cannot do it on your own, how are you going to pay a loan?  I sold what I had, started small, yes off course I had to say no to certain deals because I didn’t have the capital, but I grew slowly and organically.  

If you have a plan, register the relevant trademarks, see a good lawyer, believe in yourself, people will not always be honest with you and work very very hard.

Do you think women feel intimidated in business?

I had this conversation with my husband the other night.  I said to him that I don’t understand victim mentality and women should not be victims and just stand up for themselves.  

I was quickly brought back to earth when he switched on a light for me and said that I only have this attitude because I live in a world where women dominate my environment.  Imagine I did what I did in the insurance industry.  I quickly realised it is easy for women in my world.  It is women environment, so we don’t really deal with chauvinism and we don’t have to fight our way to the top. 

If I was an insurance broker, sure I think we need to work harder, not because we are considered less, but because we need to keep more balls in the air.  We need to remember when the next math test is and when to fetch which child from which event.  It takes its toll when you multi task like that.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

My office closes at 4 so my staff can enjoy time at home with their kids.  I don’t take a computer home unless I have to.  I have no social media or email on my phone. My phone is there to receive and make calls and to check the weather and read my daily verse. 🙂

I believe in every day you need one hour, in every week you need one day and in every year you need 3 weeks to do what you want to do.  This way our bodies learn to cope with the stresses of every day.  It is expecting the rest.

What have you learned about leadership, entrepreneurship and mentoring others?

Mentor those with a willing teachable attitude. We are not placed in a leadership position to be dictators,  we are there to lead and teach and grow those around us. 

Millennials love to grow fast,  I struggle with this,  it takes time to teach someone something, once they know the how, they still need to get to the wisdom part.

My piano teacher always said, once I know a piece of music really well, there are 100 hours left before I will play it well.  This applies to most things in business.

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