As we speak, her business produces around 48, 000 rolls of Boemo Toilet Paper a month. However, the business still has a capacity to produce 10, 000 rolls of paper a day which will translate to a whopping 240, 000 rolls a month! “It has been a long windy road to this far,” said the enthusiastic young lady, Tšepiso Lesenyeho, the brains behind Boemo Toilet Paper.
“Creating a toilet paper business has always been my passion,” Tšepiso said. “I remember telling my mom about it and she dismissing the business idea as “impossible.””
Her mom should be forgiven.
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We have, in our midst, a breed of young men and women who have learnt to remove the word impossible in their vocabulary— Tšepiso is one of them.
So what could have driven Tšepiso to come this far and plunge into the business of manufacturing, a business normally reserved for (at minimum) men and (generally) foreigners in this country?
“I can’t point to a specific thing but maybe the story of my life will make it easy for people to know what is driving me,” she started to narrate the story. “I have always loved selling since I was young.”
She still remembers her Primary school days at Dewetsdorp, a small town in the Free State. Therein, she and her pals saw an opportunity to create a laundry business. “We were in a boarding school and our clothes were often taken and washed together, which came with associated problems.”
In some cases, white clothes would come back coloured because of intermixing. In other cases, some clothes would be lost.
As Kennedy once said, “some men see things as they are and ask, why? Some see things as they should be and ask, why not?”
Obviously, she and her pals asked, why not?
So they created a laundry Services and started washing clothes of their peers at a fee. They even went so far as polishing fellow students’ shoes!
For a fee!
Of course their parents weren’t even aware that the start-up capital for these “businesses” came from the pocket monies they gave them. But in the end, the businesses resulted in more pocket money!
Back home, her dad’s family was one of the busiest in business. That became one of the reasons to visit them during school holidays, “since I enjoyed helping out in the business.” Although the business on the mother’s side was a bit small, it was no less interesting.
Those two family businesses could have also planted in her, a business DNA.
Fast forward, she was studying Logistics at the Tshwane University of Technology. While she couldn’t complete, she decided to enroll for a Diploma in Beauty Therapy. Upon completion of her beauty therapy, she continued to study Transportation Management at the University of Johannesburg.
A born hassler, she was doing a couple of other businesses in the meantime, ‘like I was once selling blankets, shipping them all the way from Pretoria to buyers in Lesotho. I remember my peers advising me not to visit certain places where goods were of low-cost because of crime and I was like, but people still go there, why can’t I?’
She finished schooling and, in line with her training, she took up an offer to do an internship in Japan at one of the most reputable car exporting company. She was really interested in dealing with the shipping department but the language barrier threw her into sales department for a year.
When she was done, she declined an offer on a permanent job position and she came back home instead. She took up a business of selling shoes and clothing until Covid hit and she closed her store just in time to avoid rent.
So you still remember her passion to create toilet paper?
It was still lingering all these years.
At some point before Covid, she was getting closer to her dream. After all, so far she had been selling things that weren’t that unique to her business, she reasoned. Now it was time to start something different—something that would be her own. That thing would come in the form of her life-long passion.
Boemo Toilet Paper.
She bought a machine and started.
Of course that was not going to be a walk in the park—manufacturing business presents specific challenges.
“That challenge came in the form of machine maintenance technicalities. Here I was, buying the machine but having zero experience with machinery.”
It would take her time to find the right people to deal with both the mechanical and electrical issues created by the machine. Now things are a bit smoother. There is a still a long way to go but she is determined to keep moving, come what may.