Ntombi Nyembe’s dream to establish a respected spa in a township was not hindered by the rejection she got from government funding mechanisms for SMMEs. Instead, she and her business partner and sister, Nokuthula Nyembe, plowed on, because their dream was also backed by a strong desire to empower women in the beauty industry in townships. Nyembe told Vutivi News that the journey of Repose Spa Health and Lifestyle was one that came with many lessons and heartbreaks.
The spa in Soshanguve in Tshwane was established in 2021 and employs five people. According to Nyembe, she and her sister opted to start a spa in the township because they wanted township residents to experience the same level of pampering as upper-class spas offered without breaking the bank.
They also wanted to give beauty and therapy graduates who lived in the townships an opportunity to gain experience in their line of work. “We started the spa because we believe in women’s employment, and we found that there were many graduates that studied therapy and massage courses but did not have places where they could ply their trade,” she said.
“When we started, we only offered massages, but as time went on, we slowly included other services such as waxing, lashes, make-up and nails,” Nyembe said the business was established after they obtained a loan from the bank, which was their second option.
“When we approached the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP), we were turned down and told that a township-based spa would not generate enough profit,” she said. “So, we set out to prove them wrong.” Nyembe, who was raised in Soshanguve, said that she and her sister’s experience in the financial sector helped them get the financial backing they needed.
“My sister qualified for a loan, and so we applied and got one,” she said. When they finally got the business running, their services were noticed, and they started making a profit and could pay the salaries of their five employees. The spa was initially only for women, but the sisters decided to expand their services to men and their aim is to ultimately open more branches in the country’s townships.