Creating safe working environments for employees in any industry sector is key, and that’s where specialist knowledge and equipment is essential. Refilwe Sebothoma, founder of PBM Creations, is helping companies and organisations to create those safe working environments through her provision of personal protective equipment.
LoA chatted to Refilwe Sebothoma to learn more about her vision and aspirations for her business.
What does your company do?
We assist our clients in creating a safe working environment for their employees through the supply of premium, personal protective equipment (PPE). We specialize in a full range of equipment, i.e head, hands, body, footwear, work at heights protection.
"We focus on the best quality personal protective equipment in the industry and what sets us apart is that we are always prepared to go the extra mile for our clients."
What inspired you to start your company?
I was born and raised in a mining village called Marikana in the North West Province of South Africa. I grew up there and eventually worked for a mining house there too. Safety became a rich culture and an everyday life experience to me. I then began to pursue my specialist studies and undertook research regarding safety in a work place. As a result of this career path, my company PBM Creations was birthed!
Why should anyone use your service or product?
We focus on the best quality personal protective equipment in the industry and what sets us apart is that we are always prepared to go the extra mile for our clients. We offer specialized customization services which allows us to be a convenient supplier of choice. We have done our market analysis and made sure that we address all the burning issues and gaps in the industry.
"We want to go into manufacturing of very specialized garments in the safety industry and own that space."
Tell us a little about your team
We have 9 employees at the moment, 8 of them are women. We also focus on employing women from disadvantaged backgrounds and skill them up to enable them to use sewing machines, and some of them even progress to learn how to use our computers. We have a young, dynamic team that is crazy about customer satisfaction!
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I am the very first person to pursue entrepreneurship in my family. My mom was mad at me for a while after finding out that I had resigned from my full time employment to start a business. I am fortunate to have had the opportunities to work for large corporates in South Africa which helped me to understand the importance of building structures and systems in the business. I do believe that business is able to stretch you out of your comfort zones and teach you lessons ordinary jobs cannot teach. I have learned the importance of commitment, nurturing relationships, and treating people well. My greatest strength to date is still the willingness and ability to learn and take opportunities as if they are my last breath.
"Knowing and understanding your market and products gives you the confidence to stand up every single time after defeat, and keep hoping that you will eventually get it right."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:
We want to go into manufacturing of very specialized garments in the safety industry and own that space. We are also working towards owning most of our value chain. This will assist us to have control over processes as they will be internalized.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The ability to retain clients, making a difference in my team’s lives, and knowing that they are extending the same to their families and communities.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
You have to know what you want. It’s important to research, learn and understand your market so well that you can stand regardless of the opposition. Knowing and understanding your market and products gives you the confidence to stand up every single time after defeat, and keep hoping that you will eventually get it right. Success is a process, we have to learn to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small it might look!
Contact or follow PBM Creations
Why LoA loves it….
The world of manufacturing in Africa needs more women entrepreneurs to seize the market opportunities and start producing goods that are world class for the local and pan-African marketplace. In South Africa, Refilwe Sebothoma has the ambition and the drive to start producing locally the specialist personal protective equipment that industry and business need. She is creating not only a proudly South African brand in a tough industry sector, but also generating much needed employment and skills development for local people. She is proof positive that it’s possible to break into tough markets and make them your own, through great service and product delivery. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa