“Mind is the master power that molds and makes,
Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought and, shaping what he
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.”
The above words are from the British philosopher and writer, James Allen’s opening chapter of his 1903 book “As a Man thinketh.”
Drawing from his own experiences and through meditation, Allen (1864-1912) explores the connection between our thoughts and happiness, arguing that our lives follow the train of our thoughts.
Since the direction of our lives is a product of our thinking, we should always inculcate positivity in the mind.
The mind is the battlefield where all battles are fought, won and lost; for joys and ills are shaped therein.
What are considered dreams are fashioned in the mind as thought and their realisation is a product of action towards happiness; another state of mind.
In times of crises, like Covid-19, which has brought anxiety, heightened inherent fears and grief to millions of people across the globe, the human mind is put to the test.
It is during times like this that the individual should conquer his/her fears.
For that to happen he/she should understand how self-esteem makes or breaks him/her.
One such individual who has been able to conquer her fears, sustain her high self-esteem, and see opportunity where others would rather see a closed end is Carol Shereni (34) from Harare.
Just about the time she started her business, the coronavirus hit the headlines across the world.
“My business is in the beauty care industry; which is a dynamic, fast-growing and highly competitive industry,” Shereni says in an interview with The Saturday Herald Lifestyle.
“I officially launched Esteem Skincare in Harare, Zimbabwe in February 2020 with body butter, shower gel, hand cream and hand wash products.
“No sooner had I penetrated the market did Covid-19 heighten.”
Like scores of other start-ups and established businesses, the 34-year-old entrepreneur’s enterprise was not spared by the unforeseen contagion, which she, however, used as an hour-glass to weigh her options.
“It was an unforeseen crisis and one that could have dampened my business hopes, but I have learnt that in the midst of adversity, opportunities can be discovered and maximised,” says Shereni.
“I experienced the same uncertainty, turbulence and disappointments that many other small business owners experienced.”
Realising that the deadly novel virus meant to suffocate her young enterprise and choke her dreams, Shereni decided to harness her fears by putting her mind to task. Through perseverance, determination and innovative thinking, she managed to keep her head above the turbulent waters, and even increased her product range.
“Covid-19 offered me an opportunity to gauge the needs of the market in trying times like these,” says Shereni.
“It dawned on me that hygiene was becoming a top priority.
“Therefore, I added 100 percent organic soaps to my product offering, to leverage on the beauty and health benefits they provide.”
Covid-19 has not only given women, more time at home than usual due to lockdown restrictions, to develop better skincare practices, but they have taken the time to invest in healthier routines.
Organic soaps, she intimates, are soaps that are made of organic or natural ingredients.
Unlike regular soaps that are composed of synthetic chemicals, which can be potentially harmful to the skin in the long run, organic soaps are made up of ingredients that are either found in nature or derived from living organisms.
Shereni’s range of organic products comprises turmeric, goat’s milk, black, neem, and lavender soaps.
Her journey is not a rags to riches one, as business runs in her family’s blood. Hers is an inspirational story of determination, perseverance and self-pride.
From an early age, she realised that the tragic nature of life is not losing it, but living it through the whims of others.
She became conscious of how, like a snail, which will never stick out its head as long as it presumes the presence of adversity, or a millipede that coils into a ball at the slightest indication of danger, the human mind is not a victim of fear itself, but the knowledge of its existence.
She, therefore, refused to be imprisoned by fear.
“I am the first born in a family of four; and from an early age, I aspired for greatness and worked hard in school to lay a foundation for my future,” says Shereni.
“I am fortunate to come from a very supportive family that loves me and has been a pillar of strength for me. The business and entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family, so I have benefited from my parents’ nuggets of wisdom.
“They always spoke positivity into my future.
“From childhood, they encouraged me to believe in my dreams and to unleash my potential.”
The voyage to self-actualisation saw the young entrepreneur in the United States of America after completion of her secondary school at Chisipite Senior School.
Despite obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and financial services from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (2006-2010) and a Master of business administration degree from Oral Roberts University (2011-2012), which saw her working as an accountant in the US, the drive to become her own boss persisted.
Tracking her African roots, in January 2017, Shereni found herself in South Africa where she worked for a beauty care firm, as a general manager for the next three years, which equipped her with the requisite skills required in the industry.
“My journey in this industry began a few years ago with Jean Guthrie Beauty Care in Johannesburg, South Africa, which has been in existence for over 40 years,” she says.
“I received extensive training, and was exposed to the dynamic beauty industry.”
With her entrepreneurial spirit vigorously nudging her, Shereni engaged cosmetic chemists and started manufacturing her own range of products. Her experience at the beauty care firm became the springboard for her business.
Although the beauty industry is capital intensive, she started small, which helped her to gradually grow.
“It was a long and involving process,” she reflects”, “but I was determined to succeed.”
On why self-esteem matters, particularly to women, the beauty enthusiast, who is also a motivational speaker and writer with three books to her name, has this to say:
“The challenge that most women face has to do with lack of understanding on what constitutes beauty and low self-esteem.
“As a woman, I believe that true beauty is holistic beauty; in other words, it involves outer and inner beauty.
“My brand is called Esteem, because it comes from self-esteem. Over the years, I have been passionate about empowering women and speaking to them about being whole from the inside.
“I have spoken on many platforms about topics that include: self-respect, overcoming insecurities; overcoming low self-esteem and overcoming self-pity.”
As an author (“The Advantage”, “Rise above It” and “Inner Beauty”), like Allen, she uses her own experiences, to implore women to be strong-minded, and conscientise them on the essence of positivity of mind as an essential part of beauty; both inner and outer.
Outer beauty, she avers, is crucial as well because it is the major contributing factor to a woman’s confidence.
It has not been a smooth glide, though, as the global scourge brought more holdups that Shereni has to vie with.
“The biggest pullback I’ve had to contend with is the difficulty in sourcing raw materials because of the Covid-19 pandemic.,” she says.
“This causes manufacturing delays since production is done in South Africa and Zambia.”
Notwithstanding the Covid-19-induced turbulence, Shereni managed to adeptly steer her boat, thanks to the discipline that comes with her accounting background.
She looks forward to localising production of her products as her clientele and revenue keep growing.
“I have managed to stay afloat through visibility on social media platforms, and by word of mouth.
“There is no substitute for excellence and good customer service, as one should always strive to be ahead of others in the game.”
The key to success, she informs, is a positive mindset.
There are no shortcuts to success, but it all begins in the mind, with patience and mentorship following hard upon in the process of growth towards happiness and fulfilment.