South African-born Thokozile Mangwiro is an award-winning ICT professional who was gainfully employed and steadily building her career until her endless search for solutions to grow her 15-year-old natural hair inspired her to start and develop a hair product. This event led to the birth of her brand – Nilotiqa Hair Care.
The only major advice she got when she was starting out was “just start”, but she wishes someone had also told her that building a business is like planting a seed, watering it persistently and nurturing it jealously until it blooms. She learnt all the hard lessons on the job, acknowledging that it took patience and perseverance to survive her early days in business.
Mangwiro is now a full-blown entrepreneur, combining her duties as a wife and mother with building one of South Africa’s most loved beauty brands.
She spoke to Business Elites Africa about how she had to collapse her two brands into one and how she inevitably became a sales person overnight despite her shy nature.
Q : Tell us your personal story.
A: I was born and raised in the township of Kagiso, Krugerdorp, South Africa. My mother is a teacher who is an extremely passionate educator. Therefore education was the most important subject in our household. I grew up under people who educated a whole community with love and passion. Education was said to be the only way to get out of poverty, especially in apartheid times when the environment was volatile.
The experience of school interruptions and riots led my parents to reconsider the area we lived in and the schools we went to. The experience of school interruptions and riots led my parents to reconsider the area we lived in and the schools we went to.
Family life was full of love, but unfortunately financial struggle. Attending a private school with children from well off homes proved to be a journey that when I look back on was difficult, but is what made me the person I am today… full of perseverance and strength.
I also grew up on a very strong Catholic background and through every step of the way would turn to prayer to get me through difficult phases. With all that said, I grew up under a very close knit family that laughed and talked a lot more than the average family. As the eldest only girl with two brothers, I had to learn all about responsibility very quickly.
I attended university at the Tshwane University of Pretoria and obtained by Btech Degree in Information and Communications Technology, while working at Striata South Africa. I then moved to First National Bank and took on my Master’s Degree in Information and Communications Technology from the University of South Africa.
Q: Given that your background was in ICT, why did you start a haircare brand?
A: It is in growing my own natural hair for the past 15 years that I was inspired to create a natural hair care range that would truly nourish my hair. After going to several salons and an endless search for locally produced products that would help with maintaining natural hair, it was clear that there was a huge gap in the market for professionally formulated products for natural hair. I struggled for a long time, like many other women, with extremely dry hair and skin. The frustration of unmanageable hair and a lack of knowledge led to an intense research on the structure and benefits of natural ingredients such as Shea butter, coconut oil and avocado oil.
While Nilotiqa was being formulated, I continued to experiment with natural ingredients until I met Marula Oil. It feels like God gave me a little present one day and said… Here… meet Marula! Fact is the miracle oil that stole my heart is indigenous to Southern Africa. Marula oil was like nothing I have experienced before. Luxurious, silky smooth and comforting to the skin. I knew I had found the magic that now forms the base of each Nyla Natural Product we make.
Nilotiqa and Nyla Naturals were launched with great feedback. They are proudly made with organic, natural and naturally formed ingredients to deeply moisturize and nourish hair and skin.
Read the full interview in the latest edition of Business Elites Africa magazine here: Find it on pages 50 & 51.
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