Growing up in Atteridgeville in Pretoria back when salons only focused on relaxers and being exposed to products like Black Like Me, Mabel Ledwaba wondered if whether the only beauty treatments black women needed in her community were just limited to relaxers and curls.
This curiosity led to her pursuing a career in the beauty industry, first as an employee for major personal care and beauty companies, later as an entrepreneur. Her journey was not an easy one.
Mabel Ledwaba was tasked with growing sales with her focus mainly on the black female market. At the time, the market rarely used makeup on daily basis and other related beauty products, they needed to be educated on how to use the products Mabel was selling to them. This was before the now popular Youtube beauty tutorials. She relied heavily on agents on the ground and her distinctive beauty knowledge.
"It was challenging at first. Perfumes were an easy sell as everyone used them, but makeup was truly challenging. First, the products had to match skin tones of the market we were targeting, secondly, we had to teach them the right way of applying makeup for different occasions", Ledwaba said.
A few years later in the corporate space, Mable yearned for better opportunities within the beauty industry. She knew the industry very well, however, she wondered if she could make it on her own. The best way to determine whether she was going to or not depended on research.