Afika M | Female Entrepreneur
31 year old Afika Mbandazayo, 2ndof 5 children, born in the eTholeni village in Butterworth has created a nationally recognised brand of hair and beauty services.
After matriculating at Westbank High school in East London, Afika went on to study towards an LLB degree at UNISA, attending lectures at the Pretoria campus. Though she had a liking for the law Afika knew her destiny lay elsewhere “I’d walk onto campus and all I’d notice would be people who’s hair needs to be done” Afika says as she reminisces. Her love for doing hair started back home where she’d watch her sister do people’s hair for pocket money, she followed suit and realised she had quite a talent.
Afika dropped out of law school a year later and returned to East London where she lived with her childhood best friend in Belgravia, and started operating her hair business there. Because many people didn’t know about her little business, she took it upon herself to market her business “I started by going door to door and offering my services to people around the complex, then progressed to handing out flyers around Southernwood” said the budding entrepreneur
When the business began to blossom, she decided it was time to find her own space but was still sceptical about renting. So she opted for a two bedroom flat at Sohco flats in Amalinda, turning one of the rooms into a make shift saloon with all the necessary salon furniture.
Things were going well and Afika business was growing one plait at a time, she now had established a client base. With the influx of customers, Afika found herself swamped with work and having no time to sleep, and sometimes falling asleep while taking a bath. Besides needing a bigger working space to accommodate all her clients, Afika realised that her customers needed more than just their hair done, so she decided to further her skills at The Beauty Academy in Berea. There she studied nail therapy, eyelash extensions and massages. She also enrolled at Hair Image for her hair training.
Qualifications in hand Afika continued with her business at home, until she was approached with an opportunity to share salon space with a lady in Berea. Until one fateful day they were shut down with clients in the salon. Not long after the incident a friend from beauty school suggested she take up her lease and business was rolling in no time. To help with the running of the salon, Afika employed two ladies one would do nails, and the other hair.
In 2013 her Landlord informed her that he’d be selling the building, Afika had no choice but to put her equipment in storage and go back to working from home. At that time the young entrepreneur had been around 3 months pregnant, she gave birth in April the following year and a month later she went back to work.
Having acquired her current hair salon in Vincent, in January 2014, the tedious task of having to renovate the building to fit her taste started, on it’s completion she started to vigorously market, making people aware of her quarters.
Though the new space gave her and her clients stability, she needed more room to render all of the other skills she had acquired during her training. And in 2016, she expanded her business to 1 Lancaster Rd in Vincent (which she hopes to own soon), with the promise of grants and funding from government (that didn’t materialise). The strain of having to maintain two properties requires her to sometimes not even take a salary.
With a salon and a new Beauty Spa, Afika was grateful for the mentoring programme she had won through the SAB foundation. Where she was taught valuable business handling skills; from HR and marketing to handling her costing and pricing. SAB also helped with the renovations on Lancaster Rd. In 2018 this awe-inspiring entrepreneur, won the Business Women’s Association of South Africa award for Regional Business Woman of the Year.
The property on 1 Lancaster Rd, though still incomplete, is now a spa that also offers micro blading, nail therapy, eyelash extensions, make up massages, waxing and threading. With plans to branch out even further in the province, Afika is excited at the opportunity and potential the Eastern Cape Province has to offer the hair and beauty industry.
Technology has taken over many industries, and slowly but surely it’s finding it’s way into the hair and beauty industry. “The importance of constantly evolving and improving your skills is pivotal in this age of technology, there are machines that make wigs at a fraction of the time it takes to do it manually” said Afika, she went to say “In this industry you need to be creative, quick to adapt and most importantly set yourself apart from your competitors”.
Written By Anelisa Mtshizana.