Meet Nokuthula Fihla, an entrepreneur, a Biochemist and the founder of Gogo’s Washing Powder. Nokuthula quit her high paying job to launch Gogo’s washing powder which she manufacturers at her own factory in Soweto. We learn about her career, business and challenges along the way.
Please kindly tell us who is Nokuthula Fihla?
I am the 7th child of 8 siblings from Dlamini Soweto. I come from a close-knit family and we were taught values of sharing, respect and helping others. I grew up as a curious child who was always playing outside with the boys. My favourite childhood games were Top, marbles and mgusha.
Tell us about your educational journey.
I attended Ibhongo High School in Dlamini and then I completed Matric at St. Anthony’s Finishing School. I hold a Bachelor of Science Honours in Biochemistry from University of the North, now known as University of Limpopo and a Master of Business Leadership with UNISA.
Please kindly tell us about your transitions from work to business.
I worked for 25 years for big multinational companies within Research and Development Department. I also worked in the Marketing and Sales department for Fast Moving Consumer Goods companies. I quit my job at the age of 50 to follow my dream. I realised that if I don’t quit my job I will be an unhappy grandparent in my retirement. The transition was not easy and I had to make big sacrifices. I had to fund the business with my own savings and I was not getting a salary while building the business.
What inspired you to start your own washing powder brand?
It has always been my dream to be a businessperson from a young age. The idea was inspired by my grandmother whose wisdom has been passed on from one generation to another. She always advised us on how to keep our clothes clean and in good condition. I combined her wisdom with science to give birth Gogo’s. Everyone wears clothes and we have to wash them regularly which makes washing powder a commodity.
What makes Gogo’s Washing Powder unique from other washing powder brands?
Gogo’s washing powder has special selected ingredients to make washing easy and is not irritating to the hands. It removes toughest stains and our consumers love using it to wash their children’s school uniforms. Washing is a chore and we make it easy for our target market. Washing with our soap is easy because you soak your laundry for a minimum of 20 minutes and use less effort to wash thereafter.
What are the challenges you encountered when establishing your washing powder brand?
I encountered many challenges when starting this business and funding was the main obstacle. Access to market is a big challenge because I entered an industry dominated by multinationals with big operating budgets and customers. It also takes time to convert consumers to use an unknown brand and to build a loyal customer base.
How did you overcome the challenges thus far?
We had to use our own savings to sustain the business and my family has been great in helping me financially. We had to go to the communities to promote our brand in order to penetrate the market with the little budget we had. Consumer engagement is critical therefore we use lots of consumer activation in communities. We get consumers to bring their clothes and wash them using Gogo’s washing powder. This gives the community an opportunity to try the product for free and gain confidence in the brand. We also do lots of sampling.
What are the aspirations, aims and objectives of your brand?
Our objective is to have Gogo’s washing powder available to everyone at large retailers across South Africa and abroad. The aim is to create a network of distributors nationally and create jobs. We plan to grow Gogo’s brand by launching other complementary products such as fabric softener and other detergents to enable consumers to get good quality products that are affordable.
How can people get your product? Is it available in stores?
Gogo’s washing powder is not available in stores as yet. They can get it from our distributors around Gauteng by contacting us on 0836561460, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website www.lunokgroup.co.za; 18 Main Street Midway Soweto
What are your social media platforms?
At the moment we are only on Facebook but plan to be on Instagram soon. Our Facebook page is Gogo’s Washing Powder