Gifty from Shea Butter Market spilled it… In Your Dream Q & A
Meet Gify a busy mom who is creating work for the women of her home land. She runs her thriving Canadian business with her huge sense of humour. Gifty’s heart of gold and story will leave you inspired.
Grab a tea and take a ‘me’ moment, you deserve it.
My name is Gifty Serbeh-Dunn. I was born and raised in Ghana; the last of 8 children. I came to Canada at a young age to visit family friends and a coup in Ghana forced me to stay, essentially “exiled” to Canada, as I was separated from my family. I studied in Ottawa where I met and married my husband Wayne, who is Canadian. We now live in BC, precisely in Mil Bay, Vancouver Island because I wanted to be in the warmest part of Canada. We have a 12 year old son, Kabore, who loves and plays hockey seriously. We also have a dog and a cat, Moshe is a Rhodesian Ridgeback, a tall, massive male who is will be 3 at the end of October 2014; a character in all sense of the word. He amuses us all endlessly, is loving so oblivious to his size that he thinks he is a lap dog. Our household is always busy as we are all very sociable; love to have people around so it is always filled with people. I have tried to maintain life as it would have been for me in Ghana in Mill Bay. Wayne works internationally and is often traveling; technology has made it possible for us to stay connected when he is away. When he is home he does all the cooking and a great deal of hockey ‘stuff’ with our son. I love to read, chat with family and friends, and walk the dog. Dancing and listening to music ranks high on the list of hobbies.
Your 20 second sales pitch? AKA elevator pitch…sell us!
Shea Butter Market has brought to North America an excellent, healthy line of skincare products using a business principle of respecting the environment, collaborating with and paying the producers of our shea butter well without compromising the quality of the product to the end user. Respecting Mother Nature, all our stakeholders and bringing an excellent product to the market. Applying corporate social responsibility as our operating principle.
What inspired you start your business?
The women in my home community in Ghana. They asked me to create work for them and as I lived in Mill Bay didn’t think it possible. However, when shea butter became popular in North America, I saw the opportunity to help them and help myself.
How did you come up with the concept of your business?
I felt that if I sold bulk shea butter I would create work for the women in my home. Selling bulk shea butter didn’t give me the results I had hoped for. My husband advised that I create a line of products using shea butter. I took the plunge and Shea Butter Market was created!!!
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
Asking for support when I need it. Also, recognizing that the needs of the family, especially of my son came first and communicating that to staff and customers. Essentially, honesty in terms of the needs of my family with staff and customers offered understanding from everyone which allowed me to balance the needs of both home and business life. Open communication has helped me a great deal.
What is the best advice you can give to working moms, juggling it all?
Ask for help from family and friends. Be honest with your needs and struggles. Work with people who are understanding and empathetic. You need to develop a keen eye for these sorts of people and work with them. I have actually encountered people who didn’t think getting help was the right thing to do. As they thought it was my “business” and I shouldn’t “expect” others to be involved. So many people don’t understand business success as the community’s success; individual success seems to dominate most peoples’ thinking.
If you have kids at home, how do you keep them entertained so you can get crossing off your list?
When my son was younger, I had some help from his dad who looked after him while I worked, and at other times we had a nanny look after him. At the times that I didn’t have any help, I stopped work to give him all the attention he needed and gave him lots to do while I worked. He didn’t care for toys but loved books so I set him up with as many books as he wanted. He would turn pages upon pages, commenting on pictures and such- to him he was reading, it was really adorable as he made out stories based on the pictures in the book. When he could play hockey, he shot pucks at the back of the house or played mini hockey while I worked. As he got older and was in school most of the day, I didn’t work after I got him home, and then worked after he went to bed. This made my time for work very truncated, but I never wanted him to feel like the work came before him.
What have been some of your major successes in business?
Building incredible relationships with our suppliers such as the producers of our shea butter, our customers and various stakeholders, creating a loyal customer base.
What have been some of your major challenges in business?
Financial, working with a small budget and competing with large companies. Competitors who don’t play fair, thereby confusing customers.
If there was one piece of advice you could give about running a successful business, what would it be?
Honesty and a good sense of humour. Honesty allows me to accept mistakes made in our business, it allows me to ask for help when I need it, it allows me to be transparent in everything I do. It also allows me to develop integrity and operate ALWAYS from a place of integrity and with integrity.
Do you have a favourite business tool and/or resource that helps make your day easier?
Our melting and filling machines have made work so much easier. Other business associates have been an incredible resource so have the staff of our local economic development office.
What is next for your business? Any secrets you want to share?
To expand into the US market, to manufacture shea butter products for others as another component of the business.
Are you living your dream?
Yes, and No. Yes, because I have always wanted to work on children and women’s issues and the business allows me to do that. In fact, it gives me a great deal of room for creativity and has allowed me to do more for so many women and children in Ghana than a job would have. No, because I didn’t think I would be struggling financially at this stage in my life. Running a small business can be very tricky financially; I hadn’t anticipated the degree of this struggle.
What one word describes u?
Do you have a motivational quote, you would love to share?
It takes a village to raise a child (I substitute child with various things, such as it takes a village to make anything successful).
What’s one product you use daily that you couldn’t live without?
At this time in your life, are you where you thought you would be?
Yes, I have a beautiful family, a supportive immediate and extended family, healthy and doing creative things, I couldn’t have asked for more.
What in life brings you happiness?
Shared joy of family and friends. I feel that I am extension of all that surround me. If any of the things and people in my live go out of balance, that generates a great deal of anxiety in me. I work hard for harmony at all levels in my life.
What do you day dream about?
A better world; one that shares in the wealth, one that shows people that we are interdependent and need each other, one that respects the environment, doesn’t take the gifts we are given for granted
Intrigued to learn more about Shea Butter market?
Thank you for reading In R Dream!