HerMerakai: nurturing her passion into a flourishing business
Megan18 Oct, 2021
Nkhensani Rikhotso didn’t plan to start a business. When the plant enthusiast started posting again on Instagram, all she wanted to do was share the things she was most passionate about: caring for plants and caring for herself.
But a year after posting her first plant-focused picture on Instagram, she’s gained over 10 000 new followers, sold 15 000 bottles of her pest spray, and won silver in the Linktree Passionfund. “I could never have anticipated what it would turn out to be,” says Nkhensani.
Nkhensani’s business HerMerakai took root in the middle of lockdown last year. As her community of plant lovers grew on Instagram, she realised she could use that momentum to offer her services as a plant educator and stylist.
Read more: How to use Instagram to sell your products
Along with her plant work, Nkhensani also offers her services as a Reiki practitioner and creative consultant under the HerMerakai brand. “Most people focus on one thing in their business,” says Nkhensani, “But I realised that I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur. So I brought all those elements into one business, and it’s working.”
We caught up with Nkhensani to learn more about her business journey, and the tools she uses to manage HerMerakai.
How did your passion for plants bloom into a business?
Nurturing plants is a huge part of what self-care means to me. I decided to start posting on Instagram about how I care for my plants. I was with my little sister and my son on the day that I took the first picture. I was sitting in my corner, which looks a bit like a jungle, and I posted a picture of me sitting there. There was such an incredible response to that. I thought maybe it was just a once-off, but it wasn’t. Within three months of doing that, I realised my Instagram page had grown quite a bit.
I began thinking about the things I do to care for my plants. I make my own plant spray to nurture them and protect them from pests. I thought, “What if I made this spray look pretty and packaged it?”. I’ve been in the UX and ecommerce space, so I had some knowledge about how to sell it.
A good number of people were interested in my spray. I soon realised there were other services people wanted. I introduced one-on-one sessions to help people care for their plants and show them how to re-pot them. I later turned those sessions into workshops.
It all happened organically, and at some point, I realised that I was sitting with a business. I didn’t intend to start a business. I was just sharing my passion, and it grew from there.
Read more: In good company: deciding how to structure your business
The first item you sold was your pest spray. Where did you sell that?
I built a website and created an online store to start selling my products. From there, I created an Instagram shop so people could see what I was selling. A few plant shops, including Happy Life Plants, later approached me about selling my spray in their stores. It all happened organically.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while setting up your business?
With any sort of product or business, it’s about understanding yourself and your positioning. I remember having this conversation with my mom, and she asked me, “How is this going to work? Who is going to want to learn about plants?” So most of the challenges I faced were mental.
In terms of physical roadblocks, it was learning how to juggle my nine-to-five work with my business. As HerMerakai grew bigger than I anticipated, it demanded more of my time. I had to make sure that as a single mom, my son remained my top priority. Juggling my work-life balance has been the most challenging part of it.
In terms of everything else, it feels like all the elements of my life came together at one point to help me create this business, so that part has been the easiest.
Your Instagram is filled with an abundance of plant tips and wisdom. Where do you get the inspiration for your content?
I try not to follow any plant pages. I realised seeing similar content could get to my head. Instead, I follow pages about things I’m genuinely interested in, like art, fashion and music, that’s where my inspiration comes from. When my mental space feels aligned, it’s easy for me to create content.
It also helps that I have plants in my space because I can talk about things that relate to them. The other day my son was sitting on the couch and said, ‘There’s a water droplet on this plant. Why is there a water droplet?’ and I knew the answer to that. I like to use questions people ask me as inspiration for my posts. My followers give me ideas for content when they ask me questions. I realised that the best way to serve a particular need is by looking at what people are struggling with.
You’ve built a community of followers on Instagram. How important was it for your business to build that community?
People focus a lot on followers, but for me, it’s just a metric. If I focus on gaining followers, it shifts my attention from what I am trying to do. I don’t have a set target to grow by a certain amount of people every month. My goal has always been to share from an authentic and honest space.
Most people say to me, “I came for the plants, but I stuck around for all the self-care content.” It’s great to have a large following, but I prefer to focus on the conversations I have with my followers. I appreciate it when someone tells me ‘The way you speak openly about therapy has made me want to go to therapy.’ Those kinds of conversations fill my cup.
You recently relaunched your website. Why did you decide that was necessary?
As my business grew, I started thinking about the different services I wanted to offer. I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur, and I needed a space that communicated that. My previous website was limited. It just focused on my plant services, and didn’t reflect my spiritual work or creative work.
With my spiritual work, I would get clients when I mentioned that I do Reiki. I never posted it on my feed, and it was the same with my creative work. So it was about making sure that my other services had a space where I could communicate what they entail.
When you relaunched your website you incorporated SnapScan as a payment method. What led to that decision?
The most important thing for me is to listen to what my customers want. They’ve asked me multiple times if I could add another payment method.
When deciding on another payment method, I had to determine whether the process would be intuitive. If someone is making a purchase, is it easy? Am I stopping them from doing something, or is it a seamless transaction?
Read more: 4 tips to easily optimise your online store
It made perfect sense for me to incorporate SnapScan because I felt like integrating the SnapScan WooCommerce plugin onto my website would be a seamless experience. Plus, it would enhance my customers’ experience on my website. So I started using it recently, and quite a few of my payments are now going through SnapScan. So the uptake of it has been brilliant.
What tools do you use to manage your business?
I currently run my website on WordPress, and I use WooCommerce to help me with the ecommerce side of things.
The other tools I use are Planoly, which helps me with my scheduling on Instagram. I like how it works. It’s a very intuitive, clean, easy, beautiful app. I use Canva because it makes it easy for me to create templates for all the posts I want to put out. I can then just put the content in the templates. It’s made my life so much easier. I use the Adobe Suite as well, but that’s for the design stuff. I design all my packaging with the Adobe Suite.
I also take my own photos. For that, I use a tripod, my phone, and an app called LensBuddy that is incredible. Those are the tools I use daily to keep my business going.
Ready to get your hands on the HerMerakai plant spray, or book a consult with Nkhensani? Head to her website to browse what she has on offer.
If you’d like to share your business’ SnapScan story with us, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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