“After doing extensive research of the South African fragrance market, I realised there were no black owned fragrances in the major retailers. This was one of the reasons I left the corporate world to start my own fragrance line,” says Leve.
In 2014, he started Be You Fragrances, South African ladies and men’s fragrance brand. It is targeted at middle to upper class individuals who are looking for high quality black South African- made products.
“I started Be You Fragrances with a bit of money that I received after resigning from work. From there onwards, I ran out of money after the first year and a few failed attempts at listing our perfumes through a few popular retailers.
“I then had to focus on hard selling in order to grow the brand. In time, our fragrances grew popular amongst friends and we started selling enough fragrances to grow our perfume brand organically and start making other perfumes in our range,” Leve adds.
Since then, the brand has grown significantly. They get a lot of support from clients who want to see the success of a black owned South African product.
“These are usually middle to upper class people who have realised that supporting international brands who are not actively contributing to our economy is not the smartest thing to do for the long-term growth of our economy,” says Leve.
Lubabalo Leve, founder of Be You Fragrances. Picture: Supplied.
With the growth, they have managed to offer branded Be You merchandise and branded high quality baseball caps of their Jo Hustle Burg range.
Perfumery is said to be a tough and competitive industry to crack locally and internationally. But what’s unique about Be You Fragrances is that they pride themselves in being a South African perfume brand, and that is communicated through everything they do around the brand, eg using models that represent the market they appeal to.
“We strongly believe in appreciation of the South African market which is why we launched our Jo Hustle Burg fragrance line in order to show appreciation of our Johannesburg roots to our local and international market.
“Our biggest value proposition is that we offer great value for money on all our fragrances. We have great quality products that are made from the best ingredients in the market,” Leve says.
Customers have since then demanded more products from Be You Fragrances and, as a result, fashionable T-shirts and body lotions will be added to the collection.
Leve urges young people to fight for what’s theirs and act on their dreams.
Perfumes by Be You Fragrances. Picture: Supplied.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect moment to start. Your situations around you will never be conducive until you get up and start working on your dream.
“Don’t let the lack of financial support hold you back. Be willing to start small it’s your dream, your vision and not theirs. You need to own it and if it means starting out delivering using a wheelbarrow, then so be it,” he says.