Keleabetswe Mahuma, a Johannesburg-based 21-year-old mathematics student started out selling weaves.
While in the weave business she noticed how many women loved the convenience of getting their hair delivered and done in the comfort of their own homes. This sparked an idea that has since blossomed into a successful business venture – Vanguard Styles. Here’s a link to their Twitter account.
We spoke to Keleabetswe about her business.
Where did the idea for creating an app first come from?
Basically I started out selling weaves, and was looking for a way to make getting hair delivered and done, more convenient for my clients. Because this is a digitised world we’re currently living in, I thought, what way better then an app.
That way women could use their cellphones to choose from a number of professional hairstylists who’ll be available to do house calls as per request. I then thought about including a number of other beauty treatment needs and decided to add professional makeup artists (MUAs) and nail technicians to the mix.
What kinds of challenges were you faced with when you were starting out and how did you manage to overcome them?
My first and biggest challenge was definitely finance. Because I am a student, I didn’t exactly have money to fund a business. However, I was passionate about my idea, and so I took up a job as a financial adviser to raise the money I needed.
Another huge challenge was marketing and getting my business out into the world. I spoke to a marketing lecturer at my university and he was able to help me with the basic dynamics of marketing. He also arranged for a few of his students to assist me with my company’s marketing free of charge.
How do you balance university, running a business and a full time job?
Like I’ve previously mentioned, before creating this app, I had a weave selling business and at the time I was still in school. I had to teach myself how to deal with a number of things at the same time, basically super multitasking. When I started working full time however, my social life became non existent.
I also had to master time management and developing piece of mind when things became a little hectic.
Where do you see Vanguard Styles in the next few years?
Honestly, I’d like to see it go nationwide, maybe even international. I’d also like to make the app as convenient as possible.
Currently the time gap between a customer’s request and the service delivery is around an hour, I’d like to get this time to a minimum of thirty minutes. 100% client satisfaction is a huge priority for me.
What advice to you have for aspiring businesswomen?
Take the first step. There is no such thing as a bad idea. It’s all about the way you execute the idea.