Hookahs in South Africa 🇿🇦 . Interview with Aisha De Beer – the founder of A-Shisha company.
Greetings to all shisha sportmans!
As you may know we have a good tradition on 8th March – International Womens Day. Last year, I have made an:
Interview with female company leaders from the hookah industry of 11 countries
For this year, I would like to present you a female hookah company leader from South Africa, please welcome Aisha De Beer – the new professional community member of Hookah Battle, who became a Jury member of our International Smoke Tricks tournament:
Hi Aisha, we get accounted with you on our annual online show of Smoke Trix Hookah Battle 2022, where you have been one of our Jury member. How did you like this expirience to judge hookah sportsmens?
It was a really fun experience. Seeing the contestants and seeing the efforts they put into their content was so inspiring. I was really impressed with everyone. It was also lovely to work with the jury. Being part of such a platform has opened up my mind and it has showed me that there is so many ways to share your passion with the world. I really want to push our country forward now to showcase our talents too. I think we all have one thing in common and that’s the love we all have for shisha. Thank you for the experience.
Can you tell your story: how did you start to smoke a hookah and why did you start a hookah buisness?
Well i started by opening up a lounge in July 2019 which at first i wanted to only offer drinks and food.
But i saw the demand for shisha. So when i decided to start offering it, i also felt the need to smoke shisha too so i knew what i was offering my clients. With that i had many conversations regarding the different pack methods, tobacco brands, hookah brands.. and it led to me being obsessed with it. I started whats-app groups and many people joined and on there i learnt a lot. When covid started, my business slowed right down to the point i could not continue operating. All i knew was i could not stop shisha.
I then started an online shisha store…I learnt how to build the website, design, and marketing on a different level. With the help from my clients and their feedback i only improved. I then built an app for the store and i then started my talks with international brands and brought some into the country. From there it just got better to the point where i had to open up my own retail store. There was many challenges in between but it only pushed me to being the best! I know my market, i know my brands and i know what is needed. I look back to where i was and how far i have come and its all thanks to my clients and my staff who believed in me and our brand.
Last year we have made a: Interview with female company leaders from the hookah industry of 11 countries. Where we discussed issues which faced femail leaders in the “male” hookah industry.
Can I ask you the same questions:
How many employees are under your direct supervision? What management challenges do women leaders face?
I run the biggest online shisha store in South Africa which i started in January 2021 and i just opened up my first retail store in November 2022. At first it was one lady and i that did everything. From the packing of the orders, attending to queries on email and social media, creating content, marketing , fulfilling orders to even the packing of the shelves in a small 3m x 5m space. Now i have 3 ladies and myself.
We load my car with stock from my suppliers and offload it and take the stock into my store. No men! I try to maintain a very independent and empowered space with my ladies. We laugh about it and we have fun! So far in this industry in South Africa, i have had no issues. All my suppliers are men and all of them respect me. I am the only female owner of such a platform in my country and i am super proud. I do not look at it as i am a female in a male dominant industry. I see it as i need to keep offering the best quality and priced items to my people and be different from the rest. I feel that because we are a “All female” run business, we are more nurturing naturally. We are mothers. I do not see myself as a BOSS, i see myself as a leader. I give my ladies the open and comfortable space to share their opinions because we all have voices.
According to our observations, the hookah industry (head of companies, influencers, consumers) are mostly represented by the male gender. Do you agree with that? If yes, does it anyhow affect your work?
The figures may have something to say but at the end of the day we are all part of the same industry. We all share the same passion. Men and women should not be looked at any differently. If you offer something amazing and unique and you push it with all your heart and it succeeds and people love it or enjoy it, then that’s all that matters. No matter what people do, others will always be jealous. If some men see it as a threat then that’s their issue. We cant change how people feel towards you as an individual or as a brand, we can only control how we react to it. No reaction is the best reaction.
What would you like to say to women who want to start a business in the hookah industry?
I say that you should not be intimidated. If you smoke shisha (which you should) and there is something new that you want to offer to the world then do your research. Ask questions. Every business is the same. It starts with an idea, motivation, courage and capital. Make connections and check your markets. When you believe in something then others will too. If they don’t in the beginning its OK. They will eventually. Don’t give up. Don’t listen to people that don’t share your dream or passion. We all have different paths. One last thing…. Be firm! Don’t let others take advantage of you.
What is your favorite hookah model and favorite tobacco brand and flavor?
That is a tricky question. All hookah models are unique in their own way. But when it comes to appearance and performance i would have to say the AEON brand is amazing
but i also love the modern and sleek design of the Steamulation which i have both.
Tobacco brand i would have to say ADALYA as their range is very big and easy to create mixes. I am a blonde leaf smoker but i am open to try new brands all the time.
What is your top 3 best sellers (brand tobacco / flavor) in your shop?
The top 3 tobacco brands are Adalya, Al Fakher and Revoshi.
Which hookah tobacco brands sells officialy in South Africa? What is the average price of 50gr tobacco package in retail?
There is many brands that are offered in South Africa such as Fumari, Starbuzz, Adalya, Al Waha, Malaki, Trifecta, Tangiers, Revoshi, Al Fakher to name a few. The other brands are more of the lower end brands such as Ona, Balli, Amaren and a few others. The average price for a 50g blonde leaf from Europe/UAE would be R35 to R40(P165). But on the American brands it works out to about R100 for 100g(P412).
How many hookah lounges do you think exist in South Africa? Like 100/1000? Do you think it’s reasonably to launch our online service of where2smoke.net in South Africa?
There is easy over 500 shisha lounges in South Africa all together. 50% being situated in Johannesburg and the rest spread over the rest of South Africa mainly in main city areas. The hookah culture here is still growing and most lounges in my opinion do not have the kind of knowledge to offer good quality sessions. I have been around and many still have the old fashion way with the quick lite coals instead of coconut coals. The hookah models they use are local or cheap brands. There is only a few i would recommend to be on a platform like where2smoke.net
Can you please find out what is the average monthly salary value for a person who prepare a hookah for the guests in South Africa? (We call such a guys as “hookah master”)
Do you think our website of hookah job search hhh.hookahbattle.com will be interesting in South Africa?
I would say the average salary for a “Hookah master” in our country would be around R8000 which with todays rate to the russian currency works out to 33,000.00 Rub or 410 EURO. In my opinion they need to be trained better to adapt to the new and better ways of making a hookah to offer clients. Many don’t smoke themselves so they are unaware of the different pack methods or heat management. They have been trained with basics. If hhh.hookahbattle.com maybe offered a little online training session to introduce them to a different world of shisha then in that way hookahbattle can offer good quality staff on their platform.
Do people like to mix different flavors of hookah tobacco in your country?
As I know you are gonna be one of the contestants of our upcoming International Mix and Story show. Do you prepare something special about your region?
I think as our shisha culture is growing people are becoming more open to mixing flavours. We are admin of 5 different WhatsApp groups and most of them are over 150 to 200 members in each. We see the conversations and we have seen that many do create and suggest different mixes. We have created our own mix that will represent South Africa in this next Mix competition. I know it will push our community to come up with mixes once we showcase the competition on our platforms. We are excited to be teamed up with Hookah battle to create awareness and show our people that the shisha world has evolved.
How do you like the next idea as a shop owner: launch a sale of special mix and story boxes. 1 box – 1 mix from some participant of some country.
So people who smoke hookah at home can have a convenient option to prepare the mixes from our champions at home
I think to offer the featured mixes from the competition will be amazing but the problem would be the availability of the brands that are showcased. I chose MUSTHAVE as we do have plans of getting MUSTHAVE into our market very soon. I also chose Adalya as that’s easily available in almost 50% of the stores around South Africa.
Thanks for the interview! Excited to see your video-presentation in our upcoming show of Mix and Story.
Subscribe our youtube channel, if you dont want to miss this show.
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