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MEET THE BOSS: HR specialist-cum Avon rep Charne Visagie on the potential of turning a side hustle into ‘real money-making’ business

Ever wondered if it's truly possible turning an everyday side hustle as an Avon sales rep into a real money making business, earning tens of thousands of rands in the process? Well, come over here for some tea, we've got exciting news for you - right from the horse's mouth!

  • A part-time HR consultant and Avon beauty boss (rep) as she best puts it, Charne Visagie, 30, is originally from Durban – and is currently based in Johannesburg.
  • A qualified HR professional, she studied Bcom: Human Resource Management degree and Bcom Honours in Industrial & Employment Relations at North West University (2010-2013) and University of KwaZulu-Natal (2013-2014).
  • Since joining Avon six years ago, she’s bought a new car, moved into a bigger home in the upmarket northern Joburg suburb of Dainfern. She’s also using Avon profits to finance her MBA studies (with Regent Business School).
  • Passionate about empowering women to become the best versions of themselves, she has since empowered over 60 women to start their own profitable businesses.
  • It was in 2020 when Covid-19 hit, and three years after signing up with Avon as a sales rep on a casual basis, that she decided to focus her efforts on the business by going full time and hasn’t looked back ever since.
  • A woman’s woman through and through, she dedicates a great deal of time educating her majority female customers on their skincare and makeup needs during home sessions, a strategy which has seen her able to recruit more women to join the business and sell more products in return, earning around tens of thousands of rands in Avon profits alone on average in a month in the process.
  • Visagie has always had a passion for selling (sales profession) because of the freedom, flexibility, and unlimited earning power. And thanks to tech innovations such as the Avon ON mobile app for representatives to access their online store-link, this means she’s able to not only reach more customers, but easily market her business and get more people to join the business.
  • After a long stressful day, nothing brings the doting dog-mom more joy than being able to take her dog on walks, not to mention those hearty conversations with her beloved four-legged friend.

One of the hottest growing trends right now throughout the world is having a good side hustle – one so good and successful that it may end up being your main source of income.

Yes, a lot of people think about starting a ‘little something something’ on the side at some point or the other. Whether it’s renting your car or simply buying stuff to resell them, and better still, teaching English as a second language online to children overseas, there’s a number of fantastic side hustles out there that you can do today to start earning money – we mean good money.

One person who knows this all too well is qualified HR specialist Charne Visagie, whose side hustle as an Avon sales rep over the past six year has yielded such positive results that she’s now working on turning it into a full time job.

A big fan of side hustles, Avon sales leader Charne Visagie believes everyone looking to supplement their income should have one.

The Durban-born entrepreneur is a huge fan of side hustles, and thinks everyone should have one, especially if they’re looking to achieve their financial goals faster.

In this special sit-down with NOWinSA editor Tankiso Komane, she shares the know how of what she considers to be among the most ‘doable side hustles’ you can start today and earn some little extra money right away.

Meet The Boss: Q&A with Charne Visagie

QUESTION: Is selling Avon a truly viable business. Can you really make money doing this, and if so, what doest it exactly takes to succeed?

VISAGIE: If you put your mind to it and you dedicate time to grow the business, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t succeed. Avon ticks all the box in the same way other reputable businesses do. I can do it in my own time; there’s no pressure. You can initially juggle it with having a full time job, being a mother, studying, whatever it may be. You know you can do it gradually and that’s what appeals to me and most other women I believe. It’s exactly that; no pressure, no set targets that you need to achieve. It’s totally up to you as to what you want to earn and what exactly are you hoping to achieve in the end.

In addition to selling Avon products, I’m also a sales leader across South Africa. I have a national team, meaning I recruit people to join my team, and I have people representing Avon that fall under my team.  

I think in a country with a high unemployment like South Africa, it’s our duty as women to empower one another, and to share our skills and knowledge to the best of our ability. For me, Avon has given me that platform to help women to start profitable businesses, even if they’re unemployed, there’s an opportunity for them to explore. If you look at what it will cost you to start a promising business from scratch today, you’ll need up to R6 000, including registering a company name.

To join Avon, it will only cost you R90 and there you have your own little business. There’re other exciting opportunities like the company offering you credit at a later stage as you journey with them. I mean they’re there, there’s just no excuse… you just need to have the tenacity and drive to make it work. The products are not only affordable, but extremely good with scientific backing behind them. They’re of high quality, and there’s something for every skin tone, age category and skin type. It appeals to everyone in the market; mothers, young women and teenagers – and even men. 

QUESTION: Any plans to do this full time?

VISAGIE: As you can imagine, it’s becoming more demanding and almost impossible by the day to continue in this fashion, given all the responsibilities I have. I’m I currently working as an HR consultant, I’m a dog mom, and I’m studying towards an MBA. You know, keeping all these balls in the air can be very challenging. As you may know, in business, if you want to get the best out it, you’ll need to invest in some form of marketing. So yes, I’m planning to do this full time. I’m giving it about a year … at this stage I still very much need my other job as an HR consultant to help feed my Avon business.

The profit Visagie makes as an Avon sales leader is substantial enough to do things like pay her property bond, car or studies. 

QUESTION: How and when did you exactly come to realise that this is the right side job for you?

 VISAGIE: I’ve been doing Avon for about six to seven years, but it was only in the last two years when Covid-19 hit that I started pushing it more. I had more time in my hands during Covid – you know how we were all forced to reassess our lives in some shape or form, and I realised that there’was something here, and I felt like I was sleeping on it at that time.

QUESTION: What’s the biggest amount you’ve made on average so far?

VISAGIE: I’ve made about R20 000 in profit in a month – this as a side line thing alone. That is substantial enough to do things like pay your property bond, car or studies and so on. 

QUESTION: How much role would you say Avon has played in empowering women through their unique model of business, and why is it important for brands to do so?

It’s a company for women, and that resonated well with me since I was already living those values as someone who’s all about empowering women.They’ve spent a lot of time developing the right digital tools to help us with the sales and marketing aspects of the business. You can watch live versions in your own time, and learn as much as you need to start your own business. We have weekly training courses where we educate ourselves about product knowledge, and the business as a whole. 

They also support causes like gender based violence and breast cancer awareness. Although I don’t have a personal story in this regard per se, I do have close friend and family members that have dealt with some of these issues. Besides, GBV affects every one of us on a daily basis. As you’d know, in South Africa alone every four minutes a woman is abused (according to POWA), and all these are issues I feel strongly about as a woman.

QUESTION: To see a side hustle through, experts often say ‘you must have your why’. What made you want to do this?

VISAGIE: In my case, I wanted to develop myself personally, hence the MBA that I’m currently pursuing – and I would be done with that very soon. An MBA to begin with, cost about R11 000 a month, which I wouldn’t have been able to afford it if it wasn’t for Avon. Also, I always felt that my full time job needed a little top up. It wasn’t sufficient enough for my financial needs. And I love that I now no longer have to wait for a pair of shoes to be on sale before I can buy it. Or hunt for bargain when it comes to groceries. Not that I’m frivolous, but I can more casually spent money on myself – after all I deserve it, I work hard and do deserve to spoil myself if I need to. But I used to have to pinny pinch myself before buying anything to ensure that I kind of get through the month. I love that Avon has given me the opportunity to supplement my salary, to such an extent that it’s now becoming a reality to move away from my full time job and do this full time.

Also, the comfort of being self-employed and afford to do things in your own pace is way too priceless.

QUESTION: How well does the MBA program compliments your Avon business and other things you’re pursuing?

VISAGIE: An MBA gives you a little taste of absolutely every aspect of the business. Whether it’s HR, finance, marketing, logistics or strategic planning, I like that I can incorporate all that into my business. And as it gets bigger, you do need to upskill yourself and also rethink how you do things. Like, at the moment I’m selling service level agreements with a lot of people, and it gets way more tense as it grows. I like that the MBA has given me the leverage I need to succeed, whether it’s negotiating prices with the right people or selling.

Furthermore, when you’re running a business like this on your own, from logistics to marketing, social media management or selling, it’s all on you. And of course when it’s still small, it’s much easier to navigate, but once it gets bigger, you often feel that you can do with little additional knowledge on how to manage all of these things. Luckily with my MBA studies, things are all coming together nicely.

What I like about the MBA program I’m pursuing is that it has given me the leverage that I need to succeed, whether it’s negotiating prices or promoting the business on social media” – Charne Visagie

QUESTION: I can see how truly passionate you are about empowering women and ensuring that they succeed. Why is that personally important to you?

VISAGIE: As women we all have a duty to empower others with our knowledge and skill whenever we can. Whether it’s a friend, family or even a helper, they’re all around us and I’m glad that Avon has allowed me to do that. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve helped about 60 women in the last six years to start their own profitable businesses and I’ve seen them succeed. That’s a big achievement for me; knowing that they can come to me to tell and show me the things they’ve been able to do with their profits. It always warms my heart to know that I’m part of this story. That I’ve empowered and mentored multitudes of women through this journey – to a point where they become fully fledged business women, who run the show on their own terms.

QUESTION: How important is instilling self-discipline when you’re in charge of your own destiny business wise – as it’s the case with you?

VISAGIE: Self discipline is crucial in any business. And again, the nice thing with Avon is that you can do that in your time. Even if you just dedicate an hour of your time to the business when you get home after a busy day – with a good glass of wine in hand – that’s still fine. Do it in bits and pieces, in your own pace throughout the day.

QUESTION: Any specific challenge you’ve had to learn to navigate in the early stage of your Avon journey?

VISAGIE: Like with any business venture, there’ll always be some challenges, especially in the beginning – as you’re venturing out. But how you overcome is the ultimate test. You might not be successful from day one, and likewise, it took some time for things to pick up. However, I always reminded myself that I’m backing and working with a company that’s in line with my values. If things that don’t necessarily go my way, I have other things to kind of makes up for that. Like I’m involved here in something bigger than just making money. Our profits go towards all these causes that I feel strongly about, plus I get to empower other women while at it. That alone is a big thing for me.

Customer service is key to me when it comes to driving growth in the personal care (cosmetic) industry and attracting a new generation of consumers

Avon beauty boss Charne Visagie

QUESTION: In your case, what it is that you do well – that no else is doing – which is giving you the edge to thrive?

VISAGIE: To me customer service is key. So I try and spent a lot of personal time with my customers as much as I can. Like when I deliver an order, I try to get a feel of what it is that they like or dislike. What their skincare needs are. What would they like to achieve in terms of their overall makeup look – and that’s important.

While we have all these interesting digital tools – in the advent of coronavirus – that we can use like the foundation finder, where you can take a selfie and it will help match it according to your skin tone (and we also the fragrance and skincare finders where you get to select the notes of the fragrance you like, and we’ll recommend the right product for you), there’s still some room for improvement in terms of personal interaction, because you can only achieve that much … and you know, as much as we’re moving more towards Covid technology and enhancing stuff like our apps amidst these little platforms, I believe we can definitely bring back that personal touch to it. You know, people aren’t always that clued-up when it comes to using things like a foundation finder, and they might still prefer personal interactions at some stage.

If we look at traditional ways of how it’s been done all along by cosmetic houses like Edgars and Dischem, there are people there helping you find the suitable foundation for you, helping you make more informed purchasing choices in the process. 

Although in Avon’s case, we use our books which we call our stores, there’s ls still this issue of limited personal touch, which we can’t just ignore. But, there’s definitely an opportunity to make up for it, like when you personally go deliver an order, which I always do if it’s within my area in Gauteng – if it’s outside then I courier it. This I believe is what gives me a bit of edge over others; being able to dedicate time to sit down with my customers, listen to their needs and educate them about skincare.

Charne Visagie believes there’s still room for improvement in terms of bringing back that personal interaction – as we continue to move towards improved technology and building connected beauty systems to personalised beauty care treatments Post-Covid.  

QUESTION: What’s your daily ritual?

VISAGIE: I must admit, I don’t always have a set plan. I’m keeping all these balls in the air, and try to do the best that I can each day. Just like most people, some days conquers me, and some days I win. But I find comfort in knowing that I can always try again tomorrow should I not succeed today. 

Thankfully though, Avon has several great tools in place to help us manage our business. For an example, they’ll tell us as sales leaders where we should invest our time in, and who we should be motivating should there be that need. There’s always daily of notification on orders to follow up on, and I like that’s because it’s empowering. 

QUESTION: In closing, what motivates you to wake up everyday and have a productive day?

VISAGIE: I’m inspired by women who push through barriers in spite of adversity. I mean I look at some of the ladies in my team, and what they’ve achieved, with everything going on in their lives, and often with no resources or skill set – but they’re still able to become successful business women and – and I’m in total awe. The likes of my helper, knowing that although she’s struggling as a single mother, she’s has her ‘why’ and purpose. She hustles and has the courage to push through any kind of challenge that life throws at her.

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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