Teacher thrives out of school as multi-events decorator
Despite her demanding, often draining full-time day job as a teacher, Oratile Onkgolotse Zacharia always felt she had enough energy and commitment to run her own business outside of school hours.
In fact, the Tlokweng native has been doing precisely that for nine years now, combining her job in the classroom with her work at Lime Aprons, an events decorating company the mother-of-three established in 2014.
The business originally specialised in decorations for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, but, due to demand, recently started covering funerals as well.
Narrating her journey, Zacharia reveals she started small but has watched the enterprise grow steadily over the intervening years.
“The business landscape back then was sporadic and I was not even sure what I was doing as I would sometimes do it for free. As fate would have it, two years later I had a vision of how to run it at a profit and never looked back. I navigated the business journey all by self with no mentorship,” she declares with a proud smile.
Zacharia tells Voice Money her interest initially lay in interior decoration and so she had planned to centre her business around this passion.
“It was my first love because I am good with arranging furniture in the house and thought I could make business out it. Unfortunately, I had no idea where to start; then I started off catering for parties and wedding which I later paired with decoration,” she says, adding with a shrug, “And the rest, as they say, is history!”
With an ocean of florists and individuals offering similar services, one might reasonably wonder how Lime Aprons stands out from the rest.
Zacharia provides the answer immediately.
“My passion overpowers the need to make money. Seeing the look on my clients’ faces when I show them the final product is a priceless feeling to me,” she states with real conviction.
Lime Aprons targets middle-class individuals, seeking top quality decorations and experience at a reasonable budget. Zacharia’s business currently provides employment for three workers, who share the load of: pitching, draping, loading and setting up the decorations.
“The challenge I am facing is dealing with a client who will bring a picture from Pinterest and ask for a massive discount and those that bring pictures from my competitor and expect the same decoration with less charge. As for competition, I’m not fazed since I know my capabilities,” she says confidently.
Explaining how she came to add funeral decorations to her arsenal, Zacharia says it was at the request of her clientele and is something she feels strongly about.
“A loyal customer approached me to do decoration for her late mom’s funeral and more customers came from referrals. I also believe that people should be celebrated when they have passed on as much as when they are alive. It’s a new trend that is slowly catching up with locals here. Usually the customers are the ones who approach me. Some are referrals from my clients. For this particular one, word of mouth from my clients is helping to market the funeral decoration,” she says.