Tumelomj’s Afroboutique, The art and ways to make one’s dreams come true

Tumelo Mpholo is an astonishing person that you hardly can forget once you’ve met her. Everything about her makes you want to seat, listen and be educated in a very smooth and organic way I must say. She is the founder and owner of a hair salon called TumoloMJ’s Afro boutique, based in Johannesburg – South Africa.
The initial 30 minutes interview turned into an almost two hours discussion. I will try to share with you the essence of it.
My first question was about her story. I wanted to know how she started her entrepreneurial journey. She had that beautiful smile and I felt this was going to be deep. And it was.

An early passion for hair

Her passion for everything related to hair matters goes way back. But the intention of becoming a serious hairdresser emerged when she was barely 3 years old, after a poor experience at a hairdresser from her community.
Nevertheless, time passing, she grew to become a straight “A Student”. Her passion was never far. It all came rushing back when she was gifted with a set of colorful combs in Sunday school for Christmas.

A natural entrepreneur

Tumelo for say, has always been an entrepreneur. From a very early age, she has developed an interest for commercial matters. Her mom owned a small business that helped bring food on the table. But Tumelo was frustrated that it was not a sustainable business like the ones she could see in the neighborhood.
She wanted to understand how others managed to run successful businesses. And despite her young age (barely a teenager), she befriended various business owners to learn from them.

And then, life happened

As I mentioned earlier, Tumelo was a good student who deserved a scholarship to attend a featured high school. As she remembers it, it was very soon after apartheid was ended but the stigmas were still vivid in the society. She was hence arbitrarily prevented from her right to a better education and had to drop out of school.
She never gave up though, she intentionally decided to train herself on whatever she believed would help her change the narrative of her life.
As she says, “Poverty is a state of mind”. Tumelo had already started her business whilst in high school. She was already living business economics and had a somewhat small but stable clientele. She decided to apply the commitment she had for academics towards developing her talent in Hairdressing and business.

Do it yourself

She searched for trainings about how to protect afro hair and keep them healthy but could not find anything truly relevant. So, she decided to use her own brain, skills and knowledges to investigate, experience and come up with a solution.
She told me how she approached the matter like a scientist, consistently making sure she could document her findings.
I have a feeling that this “do it yourself“, attitude is probably one of the strongest traits of her personality. One good example could be, when later in the conversation we talked about how her business was affected by the lockdown. She explained how she involved herself into convincing the South African government to allow the reopening of the hair salons along other “priority businesses “.
And it worked. She is now fully involved in the design of a label regarding the sanitary standards to be applied in hair salons all over the country.

Thinking outside of the box, while following instructions and trusting God

As far as I can tell, when confronted to a problem, Tumelo observes, analyses, experiments various options and adopts the one solution that will truly make a positive and sustainable difference.
She shared how her career as a hairdresser was propelled forward thanks to that creativity and discipline, she intentionally practices. Here is the story. She was pushed by relatives and friends to participate in a contest. She ended up winning the first prize., thanks to a very personal and original hair style on the model. And it was indeed an important win because that’s how she actually got her first professional chair and mirror, to self-employ from home.
Later, she won the Big Brother Africa competition with her blue combs set, thanks to her creativity, and that discipline regarding following the written rules, and trusting that eventually, whatever is destined to her, will happen.

Health before length

This is TumeloMJ Afro boutique marketing baseline. Now that you know more about the lady, it all makes sense, right?!
After spending some time listening to the amazing experiences in her life, I do believe that this is something bigger that just a slogan about hairstyling.
Here is another story. Tumelo was setting up version 3 of her business, in a new location, with full time employees, and of course, a lot invested from a financial standpoint. And then, she had to go through the loss of people dear to her heart, and then the lockdown. Needless to say, that the last 12 months have been hard on her.
And guess what? Well, it did slow her down but that was it. Slowed her down, but it didn’t stop her.
And one reason for her making it through lockdown, was her customers paying upfront for future services. Only trusting, fully satisfied customers go that extra mile to support a business. And it tells you better than words, how special the service and consumer experience is.

My point here, is that, by being focused, thorough and consistent in her job, Tumelo has managed to create such a healthy customer base, that her business growing to become a reference in her industry, is almost certainty.
Tumelo is already a role model as a woman, an Entrepreneur, Afro Hair Educator, Products & Knowledge Trainer & Demonstration Hairstylist. Let that be known.

Read the original article in french in K-World Magazine page 38