By Charndré Emma Kippie
At the age 14, Rabia Ghoor took the plunge and started her make-up and skincare online beauty store, Swiitchbeauty®, now celebrated both locally and internationally. Through trial and error, Rabia went on to make her very first sale just one year later, which was when she opted to discontinue school in pursuit of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
Today, as the Founder and Creative Director of the brand, Rabia is a Forbes Young Achiever 2021 Award recipient, and is noted as one of South Africa’s leading women in business. Her brand continues to flourish, with an online community of more than 108 thousand followers, and has become a trusted household name. Even in the midst of a pandemic, her business has maintained an upward trajectory, and is set to rise to new heights on the heels of her reaching her latest milestone.
Congratulations on your recent Forbes Young Achievers Award! How will you use being the recipient of this award to influence others, and how has it impacted your career thus far?
Thank you! I was so shocked when I won especially, after being at the inaugural awards last year and seeing the caliber of the recipients. I hope this award inspires young women to start – it doesn’t matter what it is, but if it’s a part of fulfilling any dream or passion you have, start. You never know what it can lead to.
When I started, I didn’t think that I would be nominated for any award, let alone a Forbes award. I think one notable thing that this award has done is solidify the fact that I am doing something worthwhile. Not just for other people, but to myself as well – getting into business at such a young age is incredibly daunting and I’ve struggled with Imposter Syndrome for years.
The beauty industry in South Africa, like many other sectors, must have experienced a knock this past year. How have you adjusted your business strategy to make it through hard times?
I didn’t have to adjust much of our strategy as we are a digitally native brand. We saw a lot of other companies scrambling to get the necessary infrastructure for E-commerce in place, and that worked to our advantage because we were more than ready to face the challenges of digital transformation. 2020 was, in fact, our best year yet.
Please could you tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
Indian people are notoriously industrious and I was blessed to have grown up in a very entrepreneurial family. I think that’s where it all started. My family supported my business ventures from a young age, and they allowed me to make mistakes, which are important for growth as an entrepreneur.
What excites you the most about the work that you do?
I get to make makeup for a living – there’s honestly no better feeling than when we get people giving us feedback on how our products have impacted their makeup and/or skincare journey. This is a truly fulfilling experience.
What were three important elements for making your business a success? What was your vision for Swiitchbeauty®?
Simply put, I wanted a tech-enabled, affordable-priced and transparent beauty brand. Today, Swiitchbeauty® is an inclusive, affordable beauty brand that speaks to women, and not down to them, as many cosmetics companies have done for a very long time.
What 3 tips do you have when it comes to building a successful beauty brand from the ground up?
- When your consumer speaks, don’t just hear – LISTEN.
- Shift your focus to creating valuable products with integrity instead of trying to cash in on the next trend or fad.
- Social media is not a marketing tool – it’s a storytelling tool. Content is much more to do with saying something than selling something.
Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have inspired you and your career thus far? If so, please provide the titles.
Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt was an incredible read; very insightful for understanding human behaviour. I also love Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast called ‘Revisionist History’ – a journey through the overlooked and things that are often misunderstood. Another very worthwhile spend of my time was watching the movie Joy (2015) featuring Jennifer Lawrence. It’s an awe inspiring story of a young woman with a game changing invention and the trials she faces in business.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line? And how do you stay motivated and inspired?
My primary work at Swiitchbeauty® is creating products that people actually need, and that actually work as intended. I draw inspiration from a lot of things, but the support I have received from my family and the Swiitchbeauty® community is definitely my biggest motivator.
Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or community outreach projects?
For the past year I have been focusing on my health and fitness and this has really helped me in other aspects of my life, especially with the pandemic and lockdown. I have also been planning on offering mentorship to young businesswomen who are starting out, but this will most likely happen in a year or two.