Nestled in the heart of Sandton’s Rivonia Village, is a fabulously coloured and highly interactive salon that caters for little girls’ natural hair needs.
Founded by staunch business woman Nthabaleng Nhlapo, Afrokids Salon seamlessly bridges the big gap in the children’s natural hair salon market.
Although research on the hair care industry is limited, a 2010 report by the Professional Hair Care Market South Africa (PHCMSA) estimated that there are roughly 40 000 formally registered hair salons that cater for black people in South Africa. According to the same report, relaxing is the most popular form of treatment in these businesses.
Relaxing was estimated to account for roughly 80% of their business, while ethnic hair care and other forms of treatment make up the remaining 20%. This is largely due to the fact that treatment for natural hair is often less accessible and heftier on the pocket when compared to relaxing and other cheaper methods of styling and treatment. This means that the natural hair consumer is left with few to no options, even more so when it comes to children’s natural hair care.
After doing her own research and seeing how unconducive the few adult ethnic hair salons were for young minds (and being a mother of two girls herself) Nhlapo saw the need to create an engaging and safe environment for girls. For this reason, she designed Afrokids.
Alongside her team of child-friendly stylists, the salon offers a wide range of hair care services. These include hair styling, cutting, treatments, braiding, cornrows, installing hair piece extensions and accessories.
The salon has been modified to specifically cater for kids. Its chairs are designed with safety belts; the washing basins are modified and nanny cams are installed so parents can check in on their little ones while they run errands.
It doesn’t just end there for the little customers at Afrokids. While waiting or being attended to, they also get to watch child-friendly programming, engage in drawing activities and play with a number of toys i.e puzzles, blocks and play dolls.
Nhlapo has managed to create an all-round fun experience that replaces the run of the mill hair salon appointments kids often dread. However, she says that this has not been without its challenges. The biggest so far, is finding reliable stylists who understand children and the Afrokids brand & vision; a brand she says has been difficult to create awareness for, hence the business has had trouble with sourcing funding in the past.
Despite these setbacks, and with the support of her entrepreneurial family and tenacious attitude, Nhlapho has managed to keep the business afloat – something she says feels as good as being able to keep her stylists employed.
Highlights since starting her business have been participating in the popular SABC 1 show “Making Moves” and receiving numerous enquiries on developing and franchising the Afrokids brand.
Moving into the future, Nhlapo is looking to develop a hair care product range, as well as opening another branch. She is also in partnership discussions with other kiddies brands to enhance the experience and convenience which her salon provides.
Visit the salon at Shop 07 Rivonia Village Shopping Centre, Cnr Rivonia Boulevard and Mutual Road, in Sandton. To make a booking, contact: 011 234 0350 or email: email@example.com
~ Thabisile Ngeleka