I grew up mostly in Bloemfontein; I did my schooling here and varsity. I completed a BCom in Economics then an Honours in Business Management, and now I’m busy finishing my Master’s in Entrepreneurship. My research is focused mostly on women and bridging the business information gap in disadvantaged areas.
My business GloLooks started as a personal journey. I wanted to keep my hair in its natural state but the products available just didn’t suit me. I asked myself if there was something I could do in my personal capacity and started reading and experimenting to make my own haircare products using all natural and botanical ingredients. (You would not believe how much academic literature there is about hair!) What really helped with the product development is that I am my own target market so it was easy to find out what worked and what didn’t.
GloLooks’ products contain no chemicals and are all hand made. This is very intentional. We could have automated our production but I have been more concerned with job creation. I believe what sets GloLooks apart from the competition is our ingredients. While other players in the market make use of synthetic ingredients for a host of reasons, I have been determined to keep my products as organic and natural as possible. This makes our prices a little higher but I believe our clients appreciate our approach.
I had my challenges when I started the business. One of the big ones was figuring out how to market with a very limited budget. It was helpful that I had relationships I could leverage and I also approached influencers. Another problem always seems to be time; I am my own marketer, researcher and salesperson!
In 2017, I decided to enter the ENGEN Pitch & Polish workshop and competition programme. The workshops with Justin Cohen were incredible. He got us to think about things that many entrepreneurs don’t even consider. We did a great deal of introspection about how to find yourself in your business. I found that while you may have the power to influence people, it’s how you use that power that is so important. Standing in front of so many people and pitching my business gave me power. I also took away conviction that my business really could succeed.
ENGEN Pitch & Polish also taught me a great deal about finances. With every step you take in your business journey, you need to know exactly where your finances stand. You have to be absolutely clear about your costs and your margin otherwise you may see money coming in and think you’re succeeding only to find out that you’re running at a loss. We also learned to talk about finances in a way that makes people want to buy into your business. Just rattling out a lot of numbers doesn’t tell a story. You have to know what investors want to hear.
Subsequent to ENGEN Pitch & Polish, GloLooks has grown a lot and I now have five employees. We also have a website so we have a bigger reach and are getting more orders. Recently, we started moving from an exclusively ethnic market and are targeting people of all demographics. Our products are multicultural and work across the board. I am very pleased at how well they are being received. I think the fact that our products are all natural really speaks to people.
As well as our treatment products, we are also selling haircare products for everyday use and have opened a new studio which I hope will be just one of many. We are also trying to get our products into retail stores (I have approached two major retailers and we are currently in talks.)
Since participating in the ENGEN Pitch & Polish programme, I haven’t stopped talking about it. Even if you don’t win the competition, you learn so much. I have been telling so many people that they need to enter. To Engen Petroleum and Nedbank, I say thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for having the vision, thank you for backing up Raizcorp and not just with money. For me, the whole thing was almost like an out-of-body experience. What I loved the most is that people from all sorts of businesses and backgrounds participated. No one is discounted because of where they grew up or what they know. Everyone is given a platform. There is no discrimination and it’s a very safe space. Even when you make mistakes, you are guided in a way that doesn’t shut you down but builds you up.