Monica Hara owns a perfume brand called Freckkled_mo. Her fragrances offer a cheaper alternative to designer perfumes to Malawians. They also offer awareness about freckles—a condition which results from an overproduction of melanin. The freckled Monica was bullied in school for the condition and she wants to build the confidence of others in her shoes who may be discriminated against.
Freckles—the defined brown spots that appear in sun-exposed areas such as the face, arms, chest and neck— can be a source of low self-esteem at school for younger people and even in society at large when one gets older.
But while many may feel self-conscious about them, 24-year-old Monica Hara, originally from Ngwale Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Malema in Zomba, looks at hers positively as a unique feature.
This is evidenced by her branding an oil-based perfume range Freckkled_mo after the way she looks, when she invented it.
For Monica, this is another way of creating awareness around the condition which results from an overproduction of melanin.
It is also her way of letting others in similar shoes embrace their looks and go about their life with confidence.
The entrepreneur was introduced to a world of variations at a younger age while working a part time job in a perfumes shop, Body & Me, in Cape Town.
“That is where I fell in love with fragrances. However, the internet and social media has played a massive role in helping me acquire the skill to supply inspired designer oil-based fragrances and in producing my very own and first Freckkled_mo by Freckkled_mo [female scent],” the Blantyre-born young woman says.
Monica has over 200 inspired designer fragrances both male and female to select from—ranging from Burberry, Gucci, Paco Rabanne, Armani, Chanel, Lacoste, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Tom Ford, Issey Miyake, Carolina Herrera, Versace, Jimmy Choo and Jean Paul Gaultier just to name a few.
In addition, she says Freckkled_mo fragrances were initially established to fill the gap for cost-effective nice fragrances to ensure that people smell good and are confident.
“I saw that as a country, we had a crisis that I thought could easily be resolved. Many Malawians had the desire to smell great, but at an amount that wouldn’t put a hole through their pockets. So, I came up with Freckkled_mo fragrances to fill that gap,” she explains.
That is how the brand was born— to offer affordable and nice designer fragrances that last longer and give confidence to those who use them.
The fragrances are locally made with original ingredients imported from China and France.
“To create a lasting sensorial moment that leads to memorable fragrances, our concentrated oils are purchased directly from the same designer fragrance houses,” says Monica.
Her biggest ambition is to be the pioneer in supplying the best oil-based fragrances in Malawi and expanding her roots across the country.
Already, Freckkled_mo fragrances has gradually established its name among Malawians, becoming well known for supplying the finest blends of oil to produce top quality perfumes and their customer base continues to grow.
Born on November 10 1998, Monica considers herself an innovator, a creative hustler who always finds a way.
She believes she got the business acumen trait from her parents.
She explains: “I grew up watching my parents who never worked an office nine to five job. I watched them wake up at five every morning to go to the city centre; set up their stall and sell curios to all sorts of tourists on the streets of Cape Town in South Africa.”
However, growing up, the innovator who currently teaches at Nyasa International Academy always thought she would become a prosecutor or a lawyer.
“I thought being well spoken and articulate would get me there. Fortunately, I found myself creating work which enhanced my creative and entrepreneurial side.
“I believe being an entrepreneur has been a part of my DNA which goes back to the family tree. Most of my relatives are street-smart and we were taught to hustle our way to the top with zero excuses,” explains Monica, the youngest of three children in her family.
The youthful English and Mathematics teacher is pursuing further studies at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences’ Management Development Centre.
One of the things that has challenged her efforts to becoming who she wanted to and do the things she desired was the lack of belief in her abilities by the people from whom she needed this the most.
But despite this, she forged ahead to be where she is today, with hopes of achieving more.
Her advice to the younger Monica is: “I would definitely tell her to try everything under the sun— any business idea. I would also remind myself that it is alright not to get it right at the first go, but to try again regardless of how I feel at that very moment. And lastly, I would remind me about my late mother’s words, that: “Rome was not built in a day”, reminding myself to be patient and trust the process.”
In her free time, the perfumer likes to work out. “I am a gym junkie and I go there three times a week on average. I also love journaling—I write down my thoughts, feelings and dreams on paper,” she says.
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