Over the past two years, Ayanda Thabethe has hosted three television shows. She was the face of Legit’s Summer 2016 campaign, she opened her very own luxury hair salon in Johannesburg, she is the face of Ponds and, more recently, a global ambassador for Mizani and its hair-care products.
“Mizani is owned by L’oreal and I have always had a relationship with L’oreal because I worked on their branding team. So I think for them it was an easy decision because they know me, they trust me and they know how I work. For me, it was also a really quick because I love changing my hairstyles and, of course, I own a hair salon, so it makes sense,” she said.
As global ambassador for Mizani, Thabethe will be very busy. “Mizani is an amazing product and we want to show people that it really works, so we will be going on a hair journey over a couple of weeks and basically we will be documenting how Mizani changes my hair for the better,” she said.
Thabethe also recently celebrated being the face of cosmetics brand, Ponds.
“I don’t like being an influencer for brands. I believe in long-term relationships. My relationship with Ponds started when I was still a full-time model trying to break into the industry. They contacted me and I had to say yes and it’s been amazing ever since. They are so supportive of my career, we have a great partnership,” she said.
Thabethe, who admits she loves being involved in every aspect of her career, said having a background in marketing helps her partnerships with brands. “I don’t want to just be a face of something, take pictures and then leave. I want to be in the middle and Ponds have allowed me to make decisions and we discuss how we all get to benefit from our relationship and, for me, that’s really important.”
In the past, Thabethe has been associated with many local and international brands and they just can’t seem to get enough of the Ayanda sting.
“For me, it’s about associating myself with brands that are innovative and that I connect with, and that other people can connect too, brands that mean something and really get me involved and where I get to be myself,” she said.
She also joined Top Billing this year, a move she says has been her biggest learning curve.
“I have learnt so much, it’s actually crazy! I think everyone is nervous when they start a new job and I was extremely nervous. The thing about working on TV, though, is that if you mess up, the whole country sees your mistakes, so that made my nerves worse. However, the team I work with are so amazing. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to always embrace myself.
“When I started, my boss told me to always be myself. I don’t have to be like any other presenter on the show. I just need to be Ayanda and I am learning to show more and more of my personality.”
Before joining Top Billing, Thabethe was a presenter on BET’s A-List, alongside Nandi Madida and a presenter on Top Entertainment too.
“My work on Top Entertainment and BET helped me with my Top Billing job, because I grew as a presenter through those jobs and with growth comes change. I have been blessed enough to have seamless leaps in this industry, “ she said.
During our interview we chat about her family. She recently posted a video of her 95-year-old grandmother, which went viral within minutes. In the video, Thabethe’s grandmother asks the young beauty: “If you are here at home, who is going to be doing your show?”
“My gran is amazing. When I put that video on Instagram, I did not expect such a response from people. I think people need a good boost now and then. My family’s support means the world to me. This industry is so unpredictable and to know that they will always be behind me is really comforting.
“We have a WhatsApp group, so they always know what I am doing before anyone else does,” she said.
Thabethe said she got her work ethic from her mother. “My mom worked three jobs and raised five girls all on her own and I watched her every day in absolute awe.”
Speaking about her luxury salon, Thabethe said it is one of her proudest achievements.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I never knew what line of business I wanted to get into, until my friend said: ‘You have a background in marketing and branding, and you love hair. I have a background in hair, so why are we not doing something with our talents?’ ”.
So Liyanda Hair & Beauty Salon was born.
“When we started, we would tell our friends to come in and do their hair and soon word of mouth got around. Every single time I see a new face walk in, I thank God for them. Running your own business is not easy at all.”
Thabethe added that it was important to have more than one income in these tough economic times: “Research is key; it’s important to research the markets and find out where there is a need, but it is just as important to research yourself. Find out what your skills and shortfalls are and place yourself in an environment you will flourish in.
“Don’t work with people if you aren’t a people’s person and don’t overthink it. Start selling those jeans out of the boot of your car before you sell them out of your store in Melrose.”
On her future plans, Thabethe said, “Just look out for bigger and better things.”