In the realm of beauty, cosmetics, and skincare, few individuals possess the visionary insight and entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by Rhonda De Silva. As the esteemed CEO and founder of Matsuge.lk, a leading beauty brand in Sri Lanka, Rhonda’s journey has been one marked by determination, passion, and a deep appreciation for Japanese culture. With a remarkable trajectory that spans continents and multiple ventures, Rhonda’s unwavering commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of her niche high-end market has placed her at the forefront of the beauty industry. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the story behind Matsuge’s inception and gain insights into Rhonda’s leadership philosophy that has shaped the success of her brand.
At the tender age of 18, Rhonda commenced her professional journey with Air Lanka, which gave her a lot of exposure to the world around her and helped her discover her true passions. After relocating to Canada and establishing her roots, Rhonda knew the time had come to transform her lifelong dreams into reality. Fueled by her ardour for beauty, cosmetics, and skincare, she embarked on a groundbreaking entrepreneurial endeavour, leading to the birth of Matsuge. Drawing inspiration from the captivating realm of Japanese culture, Rhonda chose a brand name that translates to “eyelashes” in Japanese, paying homage to her initial focus on eyelash-based services.
However, her ambitions did not end there. Equipped with extensive training and certification as a brow master and educator, Rhonda recognized the opportunity to expand her operations in her home country, Sri Lanka. Driven by a desire to bridge a gap in the local market, she inaugurated the first Matsuge lash lounge in Colombo in 2018, followed by a second branch in Kandy in 2022. Fast forward five years, and Matsuge has blossomed into a comprehensive beauty hub, offering a diverse range of services such as permanent makeup, skincare, and the newly introduced Matsuge Academy—an institute dedicated to raising beauty training standards to international levels and fostering employment opportunities for Sri Lankans.
Rhonda’s remarkable success can be attributed, in large part, to her distinctive leadership style and unwavering commitment to excellence. Grounded in her own experiences and the valuable lessons learned throughout her career, she embraces a hands-on approach, leading by example, and promoting a strong work ethic within her team. Recognizing the importance of unlearning poor work skills absorbed from previous experiences, Rhonda fosters an environment that encourages personal growth and the acquisition of new concepts and soft skills, particularly within the service industry.
As the CEO, Rhonda adorns various leadership “hats,” assuming roles of mentor, teacher, and friend to her staff. Her unwavering passion for maintaining exceptional standards allows her to distinguish and eliminate mediocrity, fostering a culture of excellence within Matsuge. By entrusting her team to uphold these standards, she empowers them to excel, ultimately enhancing the brand’s reputation and the satisfaction of its discerning clientele.
However, like any successful business, Matsuge has encountered its fair share of hurdles along the path to success. Rhonda identifies rising operational costs, particularly in electricity, as a significant challenge that has had to be addressed. Furthermore, external factors such as inflation and import restrictions added to the complexity of the business landscape. Despite these obstacles, Rhonda remained resolute in her commitment to maintaining the quality of Matsuge’s services while ensuring the well-being of her valued staff. This involved raising salaries in line with inflation and prioritizing training and development to address market gaps and solidify Matsuge’s presence in the industry.
To navigate these challenges, Rhonda made the difficult decision to marginally increase the prices of Matsuge’s services. Remarkably, this adjustment did not deter the brand’s loyal customer base, thanks to its positioning within a niche high-end market. By maintaining the integrity of the services offered, Matsuge successfully weathered the economic difficulties and rising costs of living, ensuring continued customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Another significant challenge faced by Matsuge was the scarcity of competent employees resulting from talent shortages. Rhonda acknowledges the wider issue faced by businesses during this period of mass migration and brain drain caused by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Addressing this challenge remains an ongoing effort for Matsuge, as the brand continues to seek and retain skilled individuals amidst a competitive talent market.
Matsuge’s remarkable success can be attributed to a well-rounded approach encompassing product, placement, promotion, and price. Rhonda believes in infusing the brand with her own personality, creating a deep connection with her customer base. She emphasizes the importance of developing a holistic brand strategy that embodies her mission, vision, and message, resulting in a lasting impression on customers.
Furthermore, Rhonda understands the significance of customer satisfaction in driving growth and market presence. By focusing on nurturing existing customers and solidifying their loyalty, she recognizes that her current customer base plays a crucial role in generating market share. Rhonda views each customer as an investment and prioritizes making them feel appreciated, engaging with them, and above all, listening to their needs. Through this approach, Matsuge has harnessed the power of word-of-mouth marketing, leveraging customer loyalty to attract new clientele and fuel its growth.
Since its inception in Canada in 2012, Matsuge has rapidly transformed from an 800-square-foot space to a fully-fledged studio located in the heart of Colombo 7. This remarkable growth speaks to the brand’s commitment to excellence and the trust placed in them by their valued clientele. Matsuge’s dedication to delivering exceptional services and consistently maintaining service quality led to their expansion from Colombo to Kandy, catering to a diverse audience of locals, expatriates, and foreign dignitaries.
Under Rhonda’s visionary leadership, Matsuge underwent a reimagining process, shifting from a luxury lash lounge to a comprehensive beauty studio with a primary focus on skincare and esthetics. This expansion was driven by the growing demand for their services and the desire to provide added value to their esteemed clientele. With a track record of success and a loyal customer base, Matsuge now sets its sights on future growth and expansion into new territories—an exciting prospect that will be revealed in due time.
Rhonda also recognizes the importance of cultivating a positive and high-performance work culture within Matsuge to ensure precision and efficiency in their demanding work environment. She has worked tirelessly to create a meritocratic culture where rewards are based on results, consistency, and feedback from clients. By aligning incentives with performance, Rhonda motivates her team to strive for perfection and navigate Matsuge forward with confidence and optimism.
Furthermore, Rhonda understands that employee engagement and satisfaction are vital components of a thriving work culture. She values open communication and encourages her team members to contribute their ideas and perspectives. By fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment, Rhonda ensures that each employee feels valued and has a sense of ownership in the company’s success. Additionally, she places a strong emphasis on professional development, providing opportunities for skill enhancement and growth within the organization.
Matsuge understands the power of social media in connecting with their audience and building a strong brand presence. Rhonda and her team have employed various strategies to effectively leverage social media platforms such as:
- Consistent Branding: Matsuge has established a cohesive brand identity across all social media platforms. By utilizing consistent logos, colour schemes, and tone of voice, they have successfully created recognition and familiarity among their audience. This unified branding approach reinforces their brand image and values.
- Engaging Content: A team of competent content creators at Matsuge consistently produces valuable, informative, entertaining, and inspiring content for their target audience. This includes showcasing their products, providing behind-the-scenes glimpses, sharing user-generated content, offering tutorials, and keeping their audience informed about industry news. By delivering engaging content, Matsuge captivates their audience and keeps them connected and interested.
- Authenticity and Transparency: Matsuge believes in showcasing the human side of their company through their social media presence. They share stories, introduce team members, and actively respond to comments and messages from their audience. This authentic and transparent approach fosters trust and strengthens the brand’s reputation over time.
- Data Analytics: To continuously refine their social media strategy, Matsuge leverages the analytics tools provided by social media platforms. They gain valuable insights into their audience demographics, engagement rates, and content performance. This data-driven approach enables them to optimize their content to better resonate with their audience and achieve greater impact.
Matsuge also places a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmental responsibility. They have implemented several initiatives and practices to promote sustainable practices such as:
- Energy Efficiency: Matsuge incorporates energy-efficient technologies and practices to reduce energy consumption. This includes the use of energy-efficient lighting, equipment, and appliances, contributing to lower carbon emissions and a reduced ecological footprint.
- Waste Management: The company has established efficient waste management systems to minimize waste generation and promote recycling. Matsuge actively participates in recycling programs for paper, plastics, and other materials. They also ensure proper disposal of hazardous waste, contributing to a cleaner environment.
- Sustainable Sourcing: Matsuge works closely with suppliers and partners who adhere to responsible environmental practices and ethical standards. By prioritizing sustainable sourcing, they support eco-friendly initiatives and minimize negative environmental impacts.
- Product Design: Sustainability considerations are embedded in Matsuge’s product design and development process. They utilize eco-friendly materials, aim to reduce packaging waste, design products for durability and recyclability, and consider the entire product lifecycle. By adopting these practices, Matsuge reduces their environmental footprint and promotes a circular economy.
- Cruelty-Free Products: All products offered by Matsuge are free of animal testing. By aligning with ethical principles, they prioritize animal welfare and support the growing demand for cruelty-free beauty products.
Finally, Rhonda would like to offer valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals interested in pursuing leadership roles. She emphasizes the importance of embracing a growth mindset, where challenges are seen as opportunities for learning and growth. Being open to feedback, continuously seeking improvement, and viewing setbacks as temporary hurdles are essential for success. Clear goal-setting is crucial, with a focus on defining both short-term and long-term goals and regularly evaluating progress. Expanding knowledge and skills in relevant areas through continuous learning, staying updated with industry trends, and investing in personal and professional development are key factors for success.
Cultivating relationships is also emphasized, as building connections with like-minded individuals, industry professionals, mentors, and potential investors can provide valuable insights, collaboration opportunities, and access to resources that can accelerate entrepreneurial or leadership journeys. Assessing risks and rewards is vital in entrepreneurship and leadership, requiring thorough research and seeking advice from experienced professionals to make informed decisions.
Developing strong communication skills is also crucial for effective leadership. This involves articulating ideas clearly, actively listening to others, and adapting communication styles to different audiences, fostering collaboration and understanding. Cultivating resilience is another important aspect, as entrepreneurship often comes with challenges and obstacles. Learning from failures, bouncing back quickly, and staying focused on goals even in the face of setbacks are crucial for long-term success.
Another important factor is building a talented team, surrounding oneself with individuals who complement skills and share the vision while creating a positive work culture that fosters collaboration, innovation, and mutual support enhances productivity and success. Lastly, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. Entrepreneurship demands significant time and effort, but taking time for self-care, pursuing hobbies, and spending quality time with family and friends contribute to overall well-being and productivity. By following these principles, aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals interested in leadership roles can pave the way for their own success and make a positive impact in their chosen fields.
Rhonda De Silva’s journey as the CEO and founder of Matsuge.lk is a testament to her unwavering dedication, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to excellence. Her remarkable achievements have transformed Matsuge into a force to be reckoned with in the beauty and skincare industry in Sri Lanka. With an unwavering focus on raising standards and revolutionizing beauty training, Matsuge continues to redefine the boundaries of beauty in Sri Lanka under Rhonda’s visionary leadership.
To stay informed about the latest developments and projects at Matsuge, it is recommended to visit their official website and follow their official channels, where news and announcements are frequently shared.