Failure. Rejection. Bullying. Most of us have experienced one of these at some point in our lives. Marika Opperman certainly did. But like a phoenix, she kept rising from the ashes. And today, at 41, she is a mentor, content creator, influencer, property specialist and model.
Red hair. Freckles with pale skin. And the longest legs in school. Marika Opperman was often on the receiving end of bullies. But after school, things changed quite quickly for her. She set off for a gap year in London, set aside the bullies’ comments about her looks, and went for plenty of castings. There were many no’s, but eventually, she got a call back to appear in a pre-fashion week show for a hair brand. Success! Being tall, and having red hair and freckles was the look the fashion world wanted.
“I worked in housekeeping as well, so I joked that I pretend to be Cinderella, cleaning rooms and then off I go to a star-studded show. All of this gave me the confidence I so needed. And raised to always be on the lookout for business opportunities, I started to love doing more than one thing at a time.”
When she returned home to SA, she worked in the hospitality industry for many years, her modelling career firmly on the back burner. A horrific accident followed, in which she fractured her back. She miraculously recovered fully recovered, but another severe setback and trauma awaited her – as a young mother of two kids she got divorced.
“Urg, failure stared me in my face. There was one specific day when I woke up and thought that I simply cannot deal with this anymore. I must either just accept my circumstances and walk around with a label around my neck which weighs very heavy, or I must stand up, dress up and simply move on and fight against my struggles. Obvs the latter won!
“A dear friend and kykNET presenter of Tyd met Aleit, the late Aleit Swanepoel, and myself joined forces on stage, where we did a series of motivations and inspiring talks. This gave me extra oomph to try and win the Mrs SA pageant. I did not make the top 50. I failed again …”
But after a couple of months, Marika was offered the opportunity to come back into the pageant. Although she didn’t win, Marika received the Woman Empowerment award and this year she is one of the mentors for several of the women who is part of this competition.
“Don’t laugh, but I didn’t have an Insta account until two years ago. Hashtags and captions had me like ‘wait, what?’ But the competition required us to do social media tasks and I went all out, did a lot of research and equipped myself with the necessary skills. #Proudmoment and I’m glad to say it paid off.”
It did indeed. In a big way, Marika got offered ambassadorship for Lamelle Research laboratories, Skin Renewal SA and more great brands – and creating content nowadays is second nature to her. Plus her modelling career is also booming, thanks to her being a whizz on social media. This all shows, that you are never too old to start or learn something new.
“Living your passion or following your heart doesn’t always bring the bacon home, so a lot of us need another outlet. But so many women my age feel that it is too late to start their own thing or to try something new. No, it is not. We all have talents and strengths we can use to create something incredible. Maybe you can bake like Cake Boss, crochet the most beautiful items or create a masterpiece out of junk.
“Gone are the days where you are expected to do only one job. We are mothers, wives, and business owners, manage several jobs, hustle hard and rise to the occasion. There are different reasons – some financial, others as a hobby or a drive deep down that pushes you to do more. We are so worthy and capable of so much more, if we only trust ourselves”.
In between everything else, Marika does motivational talks and social media workshops for women, to show them the ropes and teach them about content creation. She is also involved in women empowerment workshops and boot camps at Shekinah in Mabula where women go on a retreat in the bush to find their sunshine again.
Taking a breather is very important to her and she does this by having a glass of red wine with her husband, Louis, spending time with her kids,14-year-old Esti and 13-year-old Tommie, shopping for succulents, learning to play golf or cooking up a storm – did we mention she is a qualified chef as well?
One thing is for sure, Marika is a multi-faceted woman but believes she still has new goals to conquer. Her dream is to host a TV show focusing on empowering women and attaining equal rights for redheads, who according to her, will one day rule the world. You go, girl!
Catch Marika on Minki’s show, Via, DStv channel 147 this month where she will be chatting about her Lamelle ambassador journey.
Seven quick tips for moms to become a momfluencer?
1. If you want to become an influencer, you can’t expect to be a jack (or jane) of all trades, master of none. Pick a niche that aligns with your image like travel, lifestyle, fashion, food, beauty, sports, gaming, entertainment, tech, health and fitness
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one of these categories. You can combine two or more of these niches. Make sure the individual niches align with one another. For instance, you can combine travel and lifestyle or beauty and fashion when you decide on your niche.
2. The key to successful social media marketing is to understand your target audience. Focus your outreach on the demographic most likely to appreciate your type of content, and this means finding the correct social network to post in.
3. Get a ring light. Always look into the light and make sure your phone lens is clean.
4. It is extremely important to publish unique and authentic content. Regardless of the type of content you create, it should be meaningful and valuable. Depending on your niche and distribution channels, you can choose different types of content such as blog posts, photos, videos, podcasts, etc.
5. Don’t over-edit your face.
6. Never do too sexy. Youngsters – we do not do sexy poses in underwear in front of the mirror. It is distasteful and often with a price to pay.
7. Do not interact with strangers on a DM on a personal level. Always keep it professional. Keep in mind that not every engagement with your brand will be positive, so you should expect some negative feedback. Make an effort to respond quickly, politely and in the tone of your brand.
Six things she learned since turning 40:
• To avoid being mutton dressed as lamb • To spend time with people who fill your cup • To be slow to anger and rich in love • To be in the moment 100 per cent • To know it is ok to say no • To live guilt free, without regrets … to choose joy
Marika’s top ten beauty must-haves:
• Lamelle skin care products – the Serra range does wonders for dry skin in winter and Urban Defence protects us from urban pollutants and the sun. Oh and the Ultra Renewal Cream … super magical for my skin.
• I’m a firm believer to do deep peels, micro-needling and spoiling myself on the odd occasion for an Endymed Pro treatment at Skin Renewal West Rand. It is like having a non-surgical facelift.
• Pink round Blistex – Say goodbye to chapped lips and hello to a kissable-smooth and hydrated pout.
• Julienne self-dye brow kit – Because life is too short for bad brows or having no brows at all. That being said, I have very light brows, so doing my own eyebrow tinting every couple of weeks is so much easier, effective, and wallet-friendly.
• Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation – Let me tell you, the first time I use it I was blown away. In a good way. It is a very good high-coverage foundation with a lightweight matte finish. Very affordable, but feels like a luxury.
• Maybelline Super Stay Matt Ink 118 Dancer – This gorgeous and classy red lipstick is waterproof, transfer-proof and fade-proof. And it lasts for hours.
• Just Pure Body Butter – The best to eliminate Winter skin. It is velvety soft, really nourishing and made up of all-natural products. Pure bliss when you apply it.
• Caribbeantan Bronze Shimmer Cream – My legs look so damn fine when I use this! Haha. Apart from this, it works for any occasion because it gives a beautiful, subtle and glamorous glow.
• Bombshell by Victoria Secret – A Bombshell attitude in a bottle! Which makes me feel sexy and confident too. Not a heavy perfume with a fruity-floral vibe.
• Aqueous cream – Every home should have this. Especially if you don’t want the whole family to dig into your Just Pure Body butter!