Traditional patterns and materials often bring a sense of identity and pride in people, especially a diverse people like South Africans. This is exactly why this group of creative women living in Johannesburg, Gauteng, decided to start a Shwe.co.za. The range is a collection of beautiful and practical items made from traditional 3 Cats Shwe Shwe.
The Eco Smart Group was founded in 2011 to upskill disadvantaged women, as well as provide mentorship and entrepreneurial support for women who do not have direct access to market opportunities. Their model is based around creating a circular economy within South Africa to create long term solutions and assist with the unemployment crisis.
Instead of waiting for handouts, these women decided to get together and put their passion for tradition and fashion to good use. “Our mission is to create jobs and reduce waste to landfill, so while you could never tell, the foundation and lining of all of our products are made from up-cycled billboards, tents and even off cuts from car seat overs! Some of our trims have also been reclaimed from old bags and other goodies,” they write on their website.
Making a dream come true can be quite daunting if you’re met with many obstacles, but when Pretoria woman, Mia decided that nothing was going to stand in her way, her business, The Gentle Touch Co was born.
The Gentle Touch Co is a space where hair care meets relaxation, comfort and specialized hair treatment. The inspiration behind The Gentle Touch Co was taken from the history of a young black girl getting her hair done at the salon or in the living room by her mother.
The memory behind hair care has always been rough mishandling and maybe a few comb knocks to the head. The services offered at The Gentle Touch Co have been intentionally designed to care not only for hair but for health too. They believe in the importance of being knowledgeable and making use of natural ingredients that provide the best nourishment for all hair types.
Mia operates her business in the back yard of her home, and documents days of her life on Tik Tok and Instagram. Users of these platforms not only love the services her business offers, but her leadership style and humility as well. She treats her employees with the utmost respect and prays with them each morning before the rush.
Her journey is an inspiration to many, and proof that all you need to make a dream become reality is hard work, determination and humility.
Award-winning multimedia entrepreneur and beauty/fashion influencer, Pamela Mtanga from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape is a force to be reckoned with. Whether it’s style, beauty, broadcasting, philanthropy, you name it, she’s got it!
In June last year (2022), Pamela was named top personality and influencer at the Top 16 Youth-Owned Brands Awards hosted by Pat on Brands. The bubbly public relations graduate is one of the country’s hottest beauty and fashion influencers.
Red is the color of love, and on this Valentine’s Day, we look back at 7 red looks that Pamela absolutely slayed!
Dubai recently hosted what many are calling the opening of the world’s most luxurious hotel, and a set of South African stars were lucky enough to be in attendance to see Beyoncé’s headline-making performance, including Trevor Stuurman.
Now if you don’t know who Trevor is, you should! He is a globally recognized, award-winning visual artist who specializes in photography, blogging, and styling. He has travelled across the globe because of his outstanding taste in fashion. In the year 2012, he got his breakthrough when he won the ELLE Style Reporter Search award.
Most recently, he received the most coveted invitation to Queen Bey’s performance at the grand reveal of the new Atlantis The Royal in Dubai.
As expected, Trevor looked stylish as ever! He stunned in a full denim on denim Gucci look with Gucci accessories to match.
It’s not the first time Trevor is being recognized by Beyonce; in 2020 he was part of Beyoncé ‘s film, Black is King, and in 2018, Trevor was one of the photographers selected to take pictures for Bey’s Global Citizen performance, which she shared on her website.
Trevor’s journey is proof that talent and hard work can lead to you to heights beyond our wildest dreams!
Most entrepreneurs say they’ve always known that they needed to start their own business from the very early stages of their lives. Although most business owners struggle to get their companies off the ground at first, with perseverance and proper research, they thrive.
The story of Drip Footwear dates back to 2003, when founder Lekau Sehoana had to make the most out of what he had, which sparked innovation and creativity. Growing up in an informal settlement of Ivory Park, Lekau Sehoana, didn’t have any shoes to wear.
He then saw an old torn sneaker and redesigned it using Denim and Polyurethane. This sneaker became a local hit and led him to enter the shoe-making business, and exchange pain for profit, for the next 5 Years of his High School life. A few years later, Drip was born, and it has been one of South Africa’s favorite shoe brands to date.
Lekau recently took to Twitter to share how just six months before starting Drip, he was running a chicken business that wasn’t doing so great.
“These pictures were taken exactly 6 months before I started DRIP. I learned so much from this journey. Running a business and bleeding money every day, literally. Each day when it came, I went further into the negative. This business tested me in so many ways,” he wrote.
All the testing was clearly just a path leading him to greater heights, and what Lekau has done with Drip is commendable and inspirational – just the motivation we all need to kick off 2023. This is your sign to go for that dream job, start the podcast, and don’t be afraid to reach for your goals. The fear of failure will only hold you back from greatness.
And in Lekau’s words: “One thing about entrepreneurship, you must never panic. Even in the midst of the worst storms, stay calm, think of solutions, and move.”
The name Swiitch Beauty will certainly ring a bell if you’re a makeup or skincare enthusiast. At just 14 years old, Rabia Ghoor started her makeup brand, Swiitch Beauty in her bedroom.
“It all began when I discovered this incredible thing on the internet, called Youtube. At the time there weren’t many South African beauty YouTubers, so I was primarily watching international makeup channels.
I remember thinking to myself: “international makeup enthusiasts have so much more of a variety” – American, European or Asian brands that are unavailable here in South Africa were constantly innovating & evolving – (especially in the digital space), while South African brands lagged behind or just straight up didn’t exist,” she writes on her brand website.
Rabia then began researching product sourcing, formulation, e-commerce, packaging, manufacturing, and design with the end goal in mind being to create a beauty brand that firstly, didn’t break the bank and secondly – made things that people would actually use in real life – things that did what they said they were going to do.
Now, a 22-year-old, stunning, award-winning businesswoman, Rabia is making more strides and growing from strength to strength. Swiitch Beauty now has a skincare range that all the girlies (and everyone, really) are crazy about!
Rabia used her brand to take a public stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2020, and those speaking up on racial inequality and human injustice. Specifically, Swiitch offered a cash grant towards a black-owned business. She also partnered with an up-and-coming black-owned e-store as the brand’s first official reseller.
More recently (about a week ago) Rabia added the prestigious title of Glamour Woman of the Year 2022 to her long list of awards! We can’t help but stan this queen making boss moves – and keeping our skin healthy and dewy, one product at a time! She’s definitely a Fuse Favorite!
Hlengiwe Hans Ngidi grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Imbali township. During her formative years in school, she was an active young girl with strong leadership skills. So much so that she was appointed head girl in high school.
After completing her high school studies, Hlengi, as she is affectionately called, studied Visual Communication and Graphic Design at the Durban University of Technology where she earned her National Diploma. She then worked in the advertising industry for almost ten years, before starting her small graphic design studio which led her into the creative world of hairdressing. “I was introduced to the hair industry by the late Mr. Welcome Msomi (who was my business mentor) and happened to be the father to the late Mr. Victor Msomi.
In 2007 Victor was the president of AHBEASA (AFRO HAIR AND BEAUTY EMPLOYERS’ ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA). I started co-ordinating their events and offering them graphic design services. Soon I started getting attracted to the salon business and its potential,” Hlengi passionately tells The Fuse.
After gaining knowledge from various salon owners, Hlengi decided to open her own salon in Pietermaritzburg in 2011. “But I was not a hairdresser then, I was just a salon business owner. I soon realized that running a salon business was not as easy as it normally looks from the outside,” she admits.
“For my salon to eventually be successful, I had to market it on the local radio station, on street poles newspapers, and at community events – then social media was not really available.” In 2013 Hlengi got an opportunity to buy a salon in East Rand Mall, Johannesburg, which was an immediate success, but the challenge remained the same – was still not a hairdresser, and with her nature of loving to be in control, Hlengi felt she was not in control of her business. “I was depending a lot on other people to show up and do the job, that is when I decided to go and study hairdressing,” she says.
Backing passion with learned skills
In 2014 a determined Hlengi enrolled with L’Oreal Professionnel African Institute which was in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. “I was among the first students who enrolled in this new world-class hairdressing college. Really my decision of studying hairdressing was for me to be able to be in control of my business. But little did I know that my destiny was calling me,” Hlengi boasts.
Studying hairdressing made sense to Hlengi; she was exposed to a different caliber of professional hairdressers such as Rockefeller Makhubo, Bongani Mbunda, Titus Magida, Priscilla Nqoko, and more. The sky was the limit for a bright-eyed Hlengi, and she decided that her place in the industry was not behind a salon chair, but with education and skill development.
“Fortunately, L’Oreal Professional decided to invest more in me in terms of training and career acceleration. After getting my trade and assessor certification, I was employed as a trainer at their college. I thoroughly enjoyed my job, I excelled and within a year I was asked to assist in Mizani Education throughout Southern Africa, which was an amazing opportunity. The following year I was awarded Mizani Educator of the year by the L’Oreal Professional Product Division,” says with gratitude.
Currently, Hlengi is studying Trichology with the Institute of Trichologists UK. Trichology is a study of scalp disorders and hair loss. “This is a very clinical path, it is not hairdressing, although I am at the advantage that I am a licensed and qualified hairdresser.” She is also a National Education Manager L’Oreal Professional Products Afro Specialist and Mizani, where she plans and implements education for salons that use their products.
There are many perks and joys to the work Hlengi does, but the most satisfying part of it to her is making a visible change in clients’ lives. One such client is a middle-aged woman who came to one of the salons she trains.
“The lady was in such distress, and for some reason, I decided to join the hairdresser who was consulting with her. The lady’s hair was thinning, and she had patchy localized hair loss, she looked traumatized and couldn’t understand why she was losing her hair. I had a conversation with her about her family history in terms of hair and asked her about any medication she is taking or any special diet.
After observing and examining her hair and scalp, I realized that she was actually experiencing what we call Telogen Effluvium, which is the thinning of hair due to undernourished and shrinking follicles which is caused by a large number of follicles rapidly moving to a resting phase of the hair life circle. There are many causes of this condition such as physical trauma, emotional trauma, postpartum, and iron deficiency.
I also identified Alopecia Areata, which is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system sees a follicle as a foreign object and attacks it, her areata was still very active. From our conversation, the lady told me she lost her husband in a car accident a year before and she had a c-section childbirth four months later.
I referred the lady to a hair loss specialist in one of the hair clinics. Six months later the salon called me and said that I have a lady who is asking for me. I drove to the salon and found a lady waiting in tears. She was attending a hair loss clinic and her hair had improved drastically and she looked much happier. I was pleased to wash and blow-dry healthier hair on behalf of the salon. That is what my career is all but touching and changing people’s lives through knowledge and education.”
A trip to Paris
Hlengi tells us about the trip to the SSA L’Oreal Professional Seminar in Paris. Two salon owners were chosen to travel with the education team that includes her. “This is not just a normal visit to Paris but an education excursion. The two salon owners are Ayanda Madlebe from STUDIO 353 HIAR in Rivonia and Noxolo Mvalo from TOUCH BY NOXY in East London,” she says.
Ayanda and Noxolo are not only salon owners but licensed and qualified hairdressers, they are being prepared to push their businesses to the next level, the mission is to build sustainable businesses through skill development.
When starting this journey many years ago, Hlengi aimed to build relationships in the industry, be known as an influential figure, mentor and lead. We’d say she’s pretty much nailed it so far!
When Sibongile Tshabalala gave birth to her bouncing baby boy in October 1993, she didn’t know she was birthing someone who would play a huge role in the beauty industry. 29 years later, Bonolo Tshabalala is one of the most respected and sought-after makeup artists in the country.
It all started when Bonolo was growing up in the West of Johannesburg, raised by his mother, and grandparents, Violet and Mpho, who is now late. “Bonolo was a very active child who started growing teeth at six months, he never crawled, always stood up with chairs and tables, started walking at eight months, and hardly ever sick. He was constantly the life of every party, loved people, even strangers!” Violet says about her grandson.
Sibongile also only has fond memories of her only child when he was younger, “Bonolo always wore my doeks or fabric seat covers pretending it was his hair, what an entertaining child!” For her, raising her son was easy, calm, and soft, just like his name suggests.
Bonolo in school
At the age of 3, Bonolo’s family sent him to Betsie Verwoed Day Care, then later to Laerskool Betsie Verwoed Primary, which is now known as Westgold Primary. Being active never left him, in school he played cricket, sang, and did poems for the eisteddfods, and even became school prefect.
In 2011, he completed his Grade 12 studies at Ahmed Timol Secondary in Azaadville, a school in the center of a predominantly Indian community, rooted in its beliefs, and strongly adhered to culture. “I’m so grateful because that was a community that never judged my sexuality and never condoned bullying or undermined the diverse cultures and people who walked its streets. High school was the best years of my life,” Bonolo tells The Fuse.
After matric, Bonolo furthered his education with Central Johannesburg College, Alex Campus, studying Cosmetology. He’s even worked as a defaulter tracer at Glenanda Clinic, Johannesburg South, contractually.
After being rejected by Wits University, and AFDA for Dramatic Arts, a gap year just wasn’t an option for Bonolo. “I met a group of ladies dressed in uniform, with their hair and makeup done and I wondered about who they were and what they did. I asked and one answered with ‘we study beauty’,” Bonolo reminisces.
That same day, he went back home to his grandmother to tell her he would like to take a different path and study beauty until he can eventually get into an acting/ presenting school. Violet then spoke to Sibongile who was happy to have her son study anything that would give him ample opportunities to succeed in whatever field he chose. Booked and busy!
A few years later, Bonolo’s first client was Andrika Magano Sebobiso, a family friend who trusted that Bonolo was good enough to make her look amazing on her wedding day. Talk about being thrown in the deep end, but boy did he swim!
After some time and experience, Bonolo is so sought after that even some of the most loved and celebrated personalities request his services in advance. Although Bonolo’s humility wouldn’t let it out easily, we asked him about some of the famous faces his brushes have touched. “Haha, Zanele Mncube; a very well-known fashionista who introduced me to Nhlanhla Mafu from the singing group, Mafikizolo…who then introduced me to award-winning entrepreneur, Gugu Khathi, and she showed me off to the world!”
For Bonolo, the most satisfying thing about his work is being part of the making of an inspirational history. In a world full of makeup artists, he believes what sets him apart is his never-ending appetite for more knowledge. “It makes me a better makeup artist than I was seven years ago when I first started on this journey – it improves my craft and service,” he adds.
Going forward, Bonolo wants to play a role in making makeup a luxury that is part of our daily lives. He also wants to own a makeup brand or cosmetic line that will be responsible for creating jobs. With his brush in his hand and love for people, Bonolo is bound to make even bigger waves!
Hair has always been an important aspect for little black girls and women, it plays an integral part in identity and freedom of expression. Local actress, Shonisani Masutha, 30, is no different – she spoke to us about her hair journey, and the opportunities she’s gotten as a result.
Shonisani has always had a keen interest in hair, especially her own. She has two older sisters and growing up, their mother, Naledzani Masutha, would take a day to sit with each of them and braid them.
“Singles! What a superhero, also she used to relax our hair herself!” Shonisani says proudly. She and her sister’s hair were always healthy, in protective styles and well looked after. From a very young age, Naledzani taught her girls that their hair is their pride and joy. “I have treated my hair with love & respect ever since,” Shonisani adds.
At the age of 25, Shonisani decided to cut the chemically relaxed ends of her hair and grow an afro. “I didn’t know how to maintain it, how to help it grow and give it the daily attention that it needed. I didn’t even know how to comb it. But I did my research on YouTube and asked a couple of naturalist friends (for advice) and now I have my own customized afro routine,” she tells The Fuse. Although it has been a fulfilling five-year journey of letting her hair grow in its most natural state, it’s not without its challenges.
“I don’t have enough time to maintain the afro that I have cultivated. I find that I am always braiding because twisting and untwisting your hair every morning and night, and can prove to be time hoarding,” says the busy actress.
However, maintaining a good and healthy afro all begins with a routine specifically tailored to your hair type. The actress let us in on how she keeps her hair feeling and looking as healthy as possible.
“I wake up with my bonnet on, I then shower and afterwards remove the bonnet, spray it with a water and conditioner mixture that I make in a spray bottle, then I take my afro out of twists, and I gently brush it out but emphasis on gently because I don’t want to ruin the twisted curl pattern. I then add an argan oil and style it.”
The Shonisani Braid
Protective hairstyles are a big part of the natural movement. This is when you give your afro a break from daily manipulation and keep it in a low-manipulative hairstyle for some time. Shonisani’s favourite protective hairstyle is knotless braids using her own brand.
In 2020, Shonisani became the first South African actress to launch her own hair extensions, the Shonisani Braid. She was approached by hair company, Afrotex SA, to become a brand ambassador for their hair but she wanted to be more than just the face of the hair and got more involved in the making of the hair extension quality.
“It is the best fibre on the market right now and I say this objectively! It’s categorised as a premium fibre. It comes pre-stretched, it’s 31 inches, soft and light and it has a multi-colour range. We do single-colour hair and ombre hair with a beautiful two-tone finish. It is feather light so when the wind blows, it dances and you feel like the goddess that you are,” Shonisani boasts about the brand.
For anyone who loves braiding their hair, the Shonisani Braid sounds like the perfect hair extension! “I want to thank every single member of the #ShonisaniBraidGang for rocking with us for the last two years, we couldn’t have done it without you and to the future #ShonisaniBraidGang members, we cannot wait to welcome you to this big, beautiful family!” the actress concludes.