Entrepreneur goes from home salon business to starting a R2.5m beauty company
MABEL Ledwaba, the founder of Havillah Beauty, initially planned to open a nail and eyelash bar but instead founded a make-up line worth over R2.5 million.
Havillah Beauty officially launched in 2008 and in just two years her business grew from occupying 20m² to a 50m² establishment in a commercial office space.
Slowly the beauty company developed as a leading brand in the local Vaal market between 2010 and 2015 and Ledwaba was employing up to 17 permanent staff. Now the products from her beauty company are available nationally.
Ledwaba, who was tapping into a market at a time when international cosmetics dominated in South Africa, was determined to make a mark as a local brand.
“We manufacture products that directly target our clients’ skin care problems, in our case catering for black skin, and doing it well. This is what makes us different,” said Ledwaba.
As a teenager, she converted her bedroom into a beauty parlour. Her informal business operated from Monday to Saturday when she would return from school.
As her popularity grew throughout her community she pursued a qualification in cosmetology and honed her talent for hair-dressing.
“I remember I was the highest paid because everyone got paid on commission, and everybody wanted me to do their hair. That, as well, taught me business skills. I saw the professional side,” she said.
She later created Havillah Beauty with starting capital of R80 000 that she received from her husband and has never looked back.
“I realised from a young age that there was a gap in the beauty industry, there were not many beauty brands specifically for black people and those that did, had limited options and products available. It was then that I realised the need and had the dream of starting my own business,” said the entrepreneur.
According to Ledwaba, the make-up products are imported from from Germany but she mixes the powder pigments to cater for the African market.
“We do not manufacture from scratch, but we are mainly responsible for the colours we mix. We have a supplier in Germany, who supplies other brands. We tell them to mix the colours in a specific way so that we have our colours,” Ledwaba said.
She added, “It was important to me to start up a brand like Havillah Beauty that provides skin care products that specifically cater for black people and provide them with a range of products and options.”
Her company also manufactures afro wigs and artificial dreadlocks weaved from synthetic hair pieces. Through Havillah Beauty she has created Havillah Training Academy which offers nail and make-up workshops.
As Ledwaba’s business continues to grow, her determination to develop a culture of entrepreneurship in the make-up industry is showing no signs of fading away.
The entrepreneur also offers advice on how to support South African small businesses.
“Small business owners need to be taught about various ways to conduct and come up with innovative ways for their businesses. That way these businesses can manage to stay afloat even in difficult times,” said Ledwaba.
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