She is a young woman who has worked very hard to make a name for herself. Norah McAslin has just unveiled a cosmetic range named Nora, which she conceived on her own after running a make-up business. Nora Cosmetics are now selling in Southern Africa. She is grateful to locals who have welcomed her product. “I only started selling it last year November and the reception has been overwhelming. Products are all over Botswana and I am looking at distribution channels all over Africa. I want it to be a whole range and I am working on that in order to have massive distribution,” she said.
Mother, wife, entrepreneur
She is known by many as a mother, a wife and most importantly an entrepreneur. The former model revealed that most of her childhood memories are in Bobonong which is her home village. As her mother was a teacher, she had also stayed in a number of places around Botswana where her mother was posted to teach. She did all her primary and secondary education in Bobonong. She then had to come to Gaborone to pursue her university degree. “I have always been a girl with big dreams, and I think everything began when I came to the city because I then started seeing life in a very different way away from my mother,” she said. She was then forced to be independent, and when at the University of Botswana she started doing auditions for Miss Botswana and modelling. That was what made her to discover herself. Upon completion of her tertiary education she enrolled for an internship which lasted only for seven months. “That was when I started to find out what exactly made me happy and I discovered that anything that deals with women makes me happy, and that started with me seeing women beautiful,” she said.
Distributing beauty products
When a Ghanaian company Black Secret recruited local distributors she applied and was offered the job. She was then faced with a challenge of going to Ghana for training and to get the product. But she didn’t have money for a plane ticket. She knocked on a few doors which didn’t open. “This took me on a journey of doing odd jobs to survive. I was Stuttaffords’ ambassador for a while. People don’t know that I even sold food before,” she said. She later got funding with a friend believing in her passion and she went to Ghana to be taught about makeup and then came back and started selling the product. It was not easy at all – she had to sell in a rented room with people coming around to buy. She then decided to open up a shop but things didn’t go too well as her business partner pulled out and the shop was closed. She felt like she had wasted her time. Her then boyfriend, now husband, advised her to quit everything and stay with him to figure things out. She used the time to introspect. Her next move was still in make-up business. She set up a stall at the Gaborone Main Mall just in front of Barclays Bank and started selling various beauty products. She left when the bank became worried about a lot of movement in front. She then opened a little shop in Main Mall. “One thing that I was struggling with was finding a shade that was suitable for lighter people in Botswana because since most Ghanaians are darker the shades were a little bit darker. I asked myself as to why can’t produce the make-up product for Botswana since they did that in Ghana,” she said.
Coming up with Nora
She rolled up her sleeves and launched intense research on makeup production methods. She eventually got contacts in Taiwan of experts that related to her the steps to take to produce the relevant shade and related products for Botswana. They wanted her to order P500 000 worth of product. She then requested for a smaller quantity and eventually they agreed. She applied for a loan with the Ministry of Youth Development, Sports and Culture Development but was rejected twice. She got the loan when trying for the third time. Her husband gave her money to top up and she paid for the product, which is now seen all over the local shops and even being distributed in Southern Africa as Nora Cosmetics.
She is also a visionary behind the association ‘Hiding behind the Mask’ which deals with women social issues that each and every woman goes through. They meet monthly to address those issues because a lot of women hide behind the masks. She also teaches young women about modelling. She couldn’t stop blushing when talking about the great support that her husband has been.