Drawing inspiration from a passion of working with the youth, Thandi Bosi knows every girl’s crowning glory is her hair.
Bosi, 44, of Kwamagxaki, who owns EXTeenS Hair Boutique in Richmond Hill, catering especially for African youth, was motivated to do so after hearing complaints from parents who struggled to find suitable stylists to do their children’s hair.
Now living out her lifelong dream of opening her own salon, Bosi is also able to serve her community by offering a quality service.
Can you give us some background on yourself and how and when you started your business?
The idea started in about October last year when I brought it up with my two business partners.
I knew I wanted something different, something that is unique, something we do not already have in the Eastern Cape.
Working with children is my passion and I realised there is no salon out there that caters just for children.
What is your core service?
I am not a hair stylist but we have highly qualified hair stylists who work with our client base.
We offer all types of hairstyling for toddlers, teenagers and students but we also offer packages to mothers and daughters, as well as fathers and sons.
We do all types of styling for ethnic or natural hair, not that we discriminate but our focus is on African hair.
Our policy is to promote natural hair for children because all the harmful products and braids damage the children’s hair.
How was the idea born?
My background of working with children in church played a big part in this business, as well as my love for children.
I saw there was a need for a salon exclusively catering for children and I made sure that we found hairstylists who would handle each child with great care.
What makes your business unique?
We did an extensive research model before we started this business and what I found was that this type of business does not exist in the province.
Of course, there are private people who do children’s hair but I wanted a space that made them feel comfortable, a space they could be free in and still get a good hair style done.
We also made a point of choosing stylists who do not pull the children’s hair, which we found was a great concern among parents.
If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
Research is definitely the most important – extensive research. If someone wanted to copy our business, they need to be ready because we had to purchase all the children-sized equipment from out of town and it was pricey.
You also need to understand that the children need to be at the centre of all decision-making and that their needs are met.
What were the biggest inhibitors your business faced before opening?
Getting our name out there was the biggest challenge.
However, introducing our business and concept was well-received and people do leave our salon happy because children won’t lie if they are not happy.
Our clientele is not available during the week because of school and are only available mostly on weekends and afterhours. So we are looking to extend our hours and this is why we are open on Sundays.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about success?
I was told to profile my clients, how to best market my business and choosing a prime location to make it a success.
How do you measure success in your business?
By the feedback we receive from parents and the clients.
What advertising do you do and how important is social media to your business?
Our social media presence is important because that is where a lot of people hear about us. We also hand out brochures and flyers in the streets.
The next step is branding our cars and I would like to give talks at schools to tell children about our business.
We have also started looking into getting an in-house Uber service available to parents who might not be able to bring their kids.
What is your company’s vision?
We want to expand our business by franchising it and introducing it in other cities in the region.
At the moment, we have pamper parties available but I would like to see this grow some more and start a grooming type of workshop for young girls and boys.
What have been some of your hightlights?
The reviews we have received have been phenomenal because that means we are doing what we set out to do.
The children even fall asleep in the stylist’s chairs, that’s how gentle they are when doing the children’s hair.
We have had very positive feedback from people and we couldn’t ask for anything more.
How many people do you employ?
We have two hair stylists and one lady who is multi-faceted, she does manicures, child-minding and our reception duties.
Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?
We want to take the business to areas such as New Brighton, Zwide and Kwamagxaki to make it is more convenient and accessible for our clientele.
How did you acquire funding for your business?
We had an investor who believed in our vision and business, but it is more of a long-term loan. My partners and I also gave a percentage towards the business. I gave 40% capital towards the business.
Once you had funding, what was the first step in launching the business?
Location was the first step.
We were lucky to have found this space as it is a busy street with a high traffic flow.
What have been the greatest challenges and advantages of running your business in a city like Port Elizabeth?
Our business is a first-of-its-kind in the city and that puts us at an advantage.
The challenge is that we need to win the trust of the people in the city, especially because of the industry we are in, it is very much trust-based.
How important has mentorship been to you in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Our investor played the mentorship role for us. It has helped and improved our understanding and business so much.