10 Minutes With: Malée Founder, Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao
Named after the founder’s great-grandmother, Malée is a Bini term of affection for a strong learned woman and an expression meaning ‘beauty with soul’. Having just launched in the UK, we caught up with Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao to find out more about her African-inspired range.
30 Second CV
Name: Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao
Current Title/Company: Founder at Malée Natural Science, a premium range of fragrance, bath and body care products inspired by the scents of unspoiled natural Africa and made with 100% natural active ingredients.
Educational Background: Bsc Hons Informatics, Masters in International Business (Grenoble Business School)
The Real Deal
Brief overview of what you do:
I started Malée in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2009. We supply some of the top 5-star hotels in Sub Saharan Africa and have a loyal African customer base, as well as a few consumer awards, under our belt. I am now embarking on taking our award winning products to the rest of the world. I am very involved in Malée; creative, product development, marketing, sales. I enjoy the ability to really get stuck in.
Can you describe your job in 3-5 words?
Living my dreams.
What is the first thing you do when you get to work?
I cheat a little before getting to my desk as I usually take 10-15 minutes in the morning to go over emails, plan the day, look at my calendar and make any necessary changes, and then map out my daily to-do’s. When I get into the office, I am in full execution mode: I sit at my desk, I browse Spotify for a decent playlist (I’m the office DJ!), and then I get cracking. At some point I come up for air and grab breakfast or a cup of herbal tea.
What does a typical day at your desk look like?
I start off by touching base with South Africa and then it’s full steam ahead with business: PR, production, marketing, strategy, product development. I keep my eye on every aspect of the brand, client side and supply chain side alike. I like to leave visual reminders of things that I need to attend to on my desk itself, so I’m always surrounded by paper, folders and post it notes – though I always end my day with a clean desk.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Each time someone unexpected discovers Malée and falls in love with our products and scents.
Your job – the good, the bad, the ugly:
The Good: Having customers and a team that supports my dream everyday.
The Bad: When things don’t go as planned.
The Ugly: When I am sleep deprived.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There is never a perfect time. Just do it and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
What would you say to your twenty year old self with the benefit of hindsight?
Believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your heart and mind to.
How do you relax and recharge?
Turning my home into a spa for ‘pamper me’ time: door shut, phone off and a bath, plus Malée candles, bath and shower gel, conditioning scrub, oil, and nourishing cream. Some music with a tall glass of Hamilton Russell’s pinot noir finishes things off nicely.
What’s the last book you read?
What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School by Mark H. McCormack
What are you listening to at the moment?
‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Tears For Fears
Complete this statement: I feel most powerful when wearing___ the perfect combination of a great outfit, comfortable shoes and a scent that is really expressing my mood.
My weekday wardrobe consists of: Snuggly knitwear from Brooke Roberts, lots of brogues, trousers, skirts and waistcoats.
My weekend wardrobe consists of: Lounge wear. I’m a big fan of ‘homeless chic’.
What social or political issues matter most to you?
Female empowerment, education, and sustainable African economies.
If you could have lunch with any woman in the world, who would it be (and what would you order)?
It would have to be Oprah, I think she is profound. I love a good steak with truffled chips and a salad, so if that’s on the menu I will be ordering it.