Despite an influx of international retailers finding success on our shores, South African consumers are increasingly seeking out local brands and products. More and more local entrepreneurs are launching products to meet this rising demand. From fledgling enterprises to established successes, South African women are among those looking to set up and grow their own businesses.
Noli Mini has spent many years working in the spa industry, and in 2010 she launched her own business venture: Relax Spas. She saw an opportunity with the influx of international visitors to South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Starting on her own as a mobile spa therapist, she offered her services to surrounding hotels in the centre of Cape Town.
“I believed there was something bigger in me and I saw a gap in the market to travel to hotels. I was a one-woman show moving around hotels offering massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and waxing,” explains Mini. “I had the skill, I knew there was demand, and I put my projections together and made it happen.”
With the help of family, friends and business relationships built along this journey, Mini now owns and runs a series of spas in hotels. At an Amy Foundation event, Mini met the Deputy Manager of Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town North Wharf where she started working closely with Protea Hotels by Marriott offering mobile spa treatments. She now operates a fully pledged Relax spa at Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge.
“I fully believe that opportunities should go full circle, and I now sell Relate charity bracelets through my spas in support of the Amy Foundation,” says Mini.
Gaining traction in the skin care market
South African actress, television personality and entrepreneur Roxy Marosa is the founder of Roxy Marosa Anti-aging skin care. Having many years’ experience building and growing start-up companies behind her, Marosa knew she had what it took to launch her own brand in 2010. With previous experience in skincare, and a gap in the market for a natural, locally-made anti-aging skincare brand – something Marosa herself had long searched for – she researched what she needed for the perfect product to fill the gap.
Marosa’s other major focus is developing and training young women through the Amy Foundation to build their futures. Her advice for any woman looking to launch her own business is to never listen to people if they tell you it isn’t possible.
“It’s hard to maintain a position in a company, it’s hard to play a sport – nothing is easy. If you have the passion, the drive, and a unique selling point then you can make your business stand out,” says Marosa.
“So many opportunities are not necessarily readily visible. Sometimes you need to create your own opportunities. If you think it will be easy, you will lose interest along the way. Let the challenge be what drives you.”
Upskilling creates opportunities
Not-for-profit social enterprise the Relate Trust is one organisation which hires young at-risk South Africans in their production department. During their time at Relate the young adults earn an income and are provided with upskilling opportunities for them to succeed in their chosen careers and move on, beyond Relate. Kattie Mkula is one such Relate employee.
Having long dreamed of a career in the beauty industry, Mkula trained as a lash technician after learning the art from successful lash artist Mandy Figg, of Lashes by Mandy – where she now attends to her own clients.
“I really enjoy doing lashes, it comes easily to me. There are also many new skills I’d love to learn in the beauty industry,” says Mkula. “Working for Relate, they want you to learn and grow as a person. Now, my business is growing as I am.”
It seems as if these sisters are doing it for themselves and each other – and it’s paying off.