CAREERS | A pure case of Love conquers all
In October 2017, East Londoners Simone Klaasen and Virginia Brown clubbed together their spare cash, R350, and started bottling and selling Ginger Love, their own natural product health elixir.
Two years later they are selling nearly 30,000 bottles a month, employing 100 people, and the total monthly retail value is about R1m.
To say they stumbled upon the mix of ginger root, lemon juice and garlic is no exaggeration.
In 2012, Klaasen was convinced she was dying. She had autoimmune disease. It was, in her words, like “arthritis on steroids”. Medication was ineffective. She could not move her hands, could hardly walk, and her husband had to help her dress.
“The only thing doctors could do was prescribe a ton of pain killers and anti-inflammatory tablets. After a month, I threw the tablets away and started drinking ginger tea. I had heard of ginger’s miraculous healing claims. I had no idea that five years later it would be the key ingredient for Ginger Love, a family company that now employs nearly a 100 people.”
Klaasen, a credit controller, was often so exhausted, and in pain, that she slept on the floor at the office, her colleagues covering for her.
“In 2014 my brother suffered a heart attack. Massive amounts of medication followed. My sister-in-law, Virginia Brown, now my partner, had seen my improvement, and used ginger. However, she added garlic and lemon juice. His improvement was dramatic. Within months his heart was fine, his cholesterol and blood pressure was down.”
The two still did not equate their product with a commercial venture. It took a near-death experience to galvanise Klaasen.
“Our family nearly died in a car crash. A drunk driver, going too fast, hit a ramp and his car soared over us, landing on the other side of our vehicle. I told my husband it was a message.
“I had to take our product to people who needed it. The research was done; we had proof of its efficacy. We knew that it had a superb shelf-life because I had bottles out of the fridge for three months, and they were fine.”
In 2017, they started production in Brown’s kitchen, mixing the raw ingredients, bottling and labelling, then hawking it. The investment was in bottles and the ingredients, as well as time. They had both resigned, Brown from a teaching job.
The family pitched in, said Brown.
“Neither of us had a clue about marketing,” said Brown, “but we were hot on social media. We posted a picture of the bottle on Facebook, with a few fun comments – all tongue-in-cheek. One I recall was ‘if you need a man, drink Ginger Love’. The immediate feedback, and orders trickled in, both from social media and word of mouth.
“Several people phoned asking us for selling rights in their areas. We gave them consignment stock, much to the horror of our families. But this is a trust business, and to date we have always been paid.”
The turning point came last year when they had a call from a woman who lived on Western Cape’s west coast. She wanted 250 bottles, on consignment, because she did not have the money to pay.
“I sent it the next day,” said Klaasen.
“She sold out, paid, and now she is the top salesperson. Another big break was SPAR. The man who does all our fresh produce buying had a contact in one of the stores. We made an appointment, showed him the product and he ordered. More SPARS came on board and it gathered momentum.”
While interviewing Brown and Klaasen in the Wimpy in Nahoon, the discussion was interrupted by make-up artistShana Dixon. She had been drinking Ginger Love for a year. In that time she had lost weight, felt a zest for life, and she believes it cured a problematic skin condition.
“I mentioned word of mouth,” said Klaasen. “She is a good example of our marketing. It happens all the time, more and more.
“You don’t need a spiritual conviction to launch a product, I was simply lucky. I knew I could solve many health problems, with Ginger Love. Our ingredients are on the bottle – ginger, lemon juice and a large dash of ‘SIMS Magic’ and that is not like the Coca-Cola mystery additive, never to be revealed. It’s simply, with God, garlic and ginger, and a dash of Sims, short for Simone’s magic.”..