Taking the big leap

Never one to back down from a challenge, Lyllian Mako-Abrahamsson recently left her lucrative post as a Sales and Marketing Manager at a top hotel to pursue her own business.

There were two reasons the well-travelled mother-of-two set-up Five Opulence, an upmarket salon that specializes in beauty, cosmetics and personal care.

“It was time to give back to me and my family. When we relocated to Botswana five years ago I had promised to spend more time raising my children and being present for all their milestones. But alas, once again I got into the familiar routine of long hours and constant deadlines. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my work and appreciated my husband’s encouragement and support, I often felt guilty for missing out!”

In addition to this motivation, Abrahamsson says she was tired of moving from one end of town to the other to access great service in the beauty industry.

“I would do my hair at one place, another for nails and elsewhere for other beauty treatments. Most frustrating was the lack of options to accommodate my husband and children!”

It was this inconvenience that planted the first seeds of a business idea.

The feisty go-getter got to work researching her ideas and, following conversations with friends and associates, she realised she was on to something.

“Although the beauty space may seem saturated, there is a significant gap in the market. There are so many people like myself that are looking for convenience, premium service and high end products and best of all, willing to pay for what they want.”

Abrahamsson got to work and did her homework on the feasibility of opening a high-end one-stop beauty shop, a place that offers a combination of beauty, lifestyle and wellness services.

“The idea is to create an environment that allows for clients to come in and enjoy quality time in a beautiful setting with all the trimmings – great ambience, top notch service and an array of specialized services,” explains the woman who counts Australia, England and Sweden as former homes.

With a wealth of experience working abroad in the fashion and beauty industry, Abrahamsson is well placed to make a success of her new venture.

“There are many such offerings in cities like Stockholm and London where I lived and worked for many years before coming back home. Batswana are well travelled and many schooled all over the world and with the advent of technology they are quite discerning in their choices and expectations.”

The Queensland University of Technology graduate spent years working with international luxury brands, managing the brands and as a fashion buyer. Some of the brands include Paul Smith, Cerrutti, Bottega Veneta and Jimmy Choo.

“It provided training ground for continued experiences and great exposure. Although I deviated from fashion and got into the hospitality business in Botswana, my role as the Sales and Marketing Manager of a hotel group still served my passion for luxury brands. Whether it is marketing a pristine hotel room, a custom made bag or a limited edition, once off offer on anything, I love and have the knack for marketing. For years I aided the growth of many brands and I’m totally convinced I can do the same for myself,” says the supremely confident lady.

TRENDSETTER: Beauty boss

However, despite this enthusiasm and her expertise in the industry, Abrahamsson is under no illusion of the tough road that lies ahead.

“Setting up shop requires sacrifice and total commitment. It takes a lot to walk away from a stable job, especially with so many financial obligations. Then there are the never-ending administrative and operational needs to deal with. These include trading licenses, contracts and recruitment. Furthermore, there are constant negotiations around sourcing, fittings, security and more. Every day there is a need to be attended to. I could never do this satisfactorily while employed full-time!”

Pausing for a second as she trembles with emotion, Abrahamsson reiterates passionately, “I could never do this alone!

“Luckily my husband Friedrick is hands on and has been a great help. His DIY passion has come in handy. One would think it is to save extra cash but really he is a perfectionist and doesn’t think anyone can do a better job! I’m just happy for all the help and the bonding time this creates for us.

“Aside from the stresses that come with starting a new venture, I am enjoying myself. I get to see my children a lot more. I can never replace the time lost but we are building great memories. I can finally say I am a soccer mom!” she chuckles, as if the realization has just dawned on her.

Looking into the near future Abrahamsson says, “Five Opulence will match if not exceed the services many travel far for. Best of all it will be counted amongst local brands geared at making an impact. We have already begun recruiting and training of personnel and recently served our very first clients. Our motto entails empowering others in realizing their dreams, clients and staff alike!”

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