A receding hairline after years of harsh chemical hair treatments set the wheels in motion for a Gugulethu woman to turn restoring her own crowning glory into a business that helps other women do the same.
For Barbara Thandeki, 47, establishing her wig-making business has been a personal journey that started with developing a solution to her own hair-loss problem, and then realising that her solution wasn’t just personal but could fill a gap in the market for affordable, fashionable human hair wigs.
“As a woman and an entrepreneur, I love beauty – and beauty without hair is nothing. It IS our crowning glory,” she says.
The enthusiasm of fashion-conscious Gugulethu women for the pixie-style wig that Barbara made for herself after unsuccessfully trying a range of hair-restoring treatments and synthetic hair wigs, prompted her friend Khunjulwa Makaluza, 37, to suggest a business opportunity – and Khubar Hair & Beauty was born.
“Barbara wanted to teach me to make a wig for myself and I told her ‘don’t just teach me only, let’s make this a business, a living thing’,” Khunjulwa recalls.
Eighteen months later, the business is profitable and the pair plan to take home-based KhuBar Hair & Beauty online and into retail spaces, invest in technology to ramp up production and eventually franchise the business.
Barbara was previously a senior procurement specialist who “felt a calling to be an entrepreneur and empower others”, while Khunjulwa recently gave up her full-time job in fashion retailing to focus full-time on the business.
“I know I made the right decision to resign my job and do this full-time. Yes, there are challenges in business, but you are in control of your own destiny,” says Khunjulwa.
They credit the Small Business Academy (SBA) programme of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) with giving them the practical tools not only to manage the business but also to “dream bigger, set a vision and a plan for growth”.
“The programme has helped us to think beyond what we are currently doing, to identify what is missing in our business idea, and to know exactly how we want to grow the business, and the steps we need to take to get there. We have learned about being true to ourselves and our personal and business vision,” Barbara said.