After completing her matric at the age of 38, Mpumalanga woman, Ozwane Mahlangu decided that being a domestic worker was not going to be her job forever, she was determined to climb the ladder in the hospitality industry – and she did!
Ozwane, affectionately known as Oz to her colleagues, was staying at ANEW Hotel Capital when she studied for her matric exams. Now, 12 years later, she has been appointed General Manager of the same hotel.
Growing up on a farm in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, access to schools during her childhood was limited due to the rural nature of farm life. Ozwane started working for a family as a domestic worker, and as time passed, she realized that this was not for her.
After getting married, her family moved to a farm where she worked in the self-catering units, and guests would often rave about the services she rendered, hoping that her talents would not be wasted in cleaning alone, forever.
Ozwane started as a cleaner and an assistant to a housekeeper at Anew Hotel Capital, and after just three months, she moved to the kitchen as a waiter and ended up as General Manager.
With the more senior role, she realized there were more responsibilities and was determined to embrace them all. She also wanted to be fluent in the English language, through a lot of reading, she achieved this goal.
Ozwane did not stop her academic career at matric, she took on multiple courses over the years, including a wine course. Upskilling herself, mixed with the passion she has for her industry, and sheer determination is proving to be Ozwane’s winning equation!
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!
Period poverty refers to the inadequate access to menstrual hygiene tools and education, including but not limited to sanitary products, washing facilities, and waste management.
Through education and advocacy, we can greatly improve access to hygiene facilities and products, reduce stigma and shame, and encourage education about menstruation.
Periods are often associated with shame and stigma, as well as poor menstruation education. Around the world, children miss school while menstruating due to lack of access in addition to the cultural or social stigma that they may face.
26-year-old activist who has been dubbed the “minister of menstruation”, Candice Chirwa, has made it her life’s work to help end period poverty and help remove the societal stigmas that surround menstruation.
Candice began this unique journey with research for the United Nations in 2017 when she was just 21 years old. She was tasked with finding research on different countries’ policies regarding menstrual health.
Since then, she has made it her life’s mission to help raise awareness about people who menstruate, the struggles they go through, and how best to support them – these include having pad drives and educating young menstruators about their bodies, the importance of keeping track of their cycles, as well as encouraging companies to have period leave for employees.
Candice is on a mission to fiercely change the disempowering narrative around menstruation. Her media presence has been established since 2015 with a core interest in Youth Politics, Gender issues, and Human Rights. She has been featured on various notable media platforms, putting the spotlight on all these issues.
South Africa still has a long way to go in terms of providing menstrual education, but it’s people like Candice who will ignite the fire in others and accelerate the work.
Washing your sneakers can be quite a daunting task, especially if you’re a sneakerhead with lots of pairs – and don’t us started on trying to get a stain off suede material, a nightmare!
That’s why when local entrepreneur, Lethabo Mokoena started his sneaker-cleaning business in 2015, he knew he would be successful; because let’s face it, everyone loves a good pair of fresh, clean sneakers.
Lethabo started his business at his home in Daveyton, a township in Benoni, Gauteng, with just R700 as capital and he named it Walk Fresh. “I had to drive from Daveyton to Braamfontein to get access to some of the key resources & knowledge that molded me to be the entrepreneur I am today,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Walk Fresh is a boutique sneaker cleaning and shoe-care service providing the best sneaker cleaning, suede/nubuck refurbishing, and maintenance for all footwear brands, makes, and materials,” the brand website reads.
Eight years later, Walk Fresh has four branches across South Africa with the prospects of even more growth.
“We find our freedom in what we do. We get the chance to define ourselves and be part of a family. Some of the processes and techniques we use are not found in textbooks or on the Internet. They are original; these are skills handed down by those before us. This is a legacy from our grandfathers, fathers, uncles and now us. The skill of utilizing a toothbrush for polishing shoes to using tissue paper for drying sneakers are those we have inherited,” the website continues.
Because Lethabo is passionate about transferring skills for the betterment of others, he launched Sole Survivors: an institute dedicated to teaching youngsters in townships how to clean sneakers and run sustainable sneaker-cleaning businesses.
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.”
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!