I was introduced to Lele, owner of Kinky Moriri, by a family member who was blown away by her work ethic and the quality of her product. I had imagined she had been in the business for at least a year, so I was quite surprised when we started talking and I discovered that it had only just been 6 weeks!
Prior to meeting Lele in person I’m not sure I knew what to expect; perhaps one of those fast Jo’burg types with a (Mary-Jane) bob-cut? I don’t know. I suppose I was expecting her to try and impress me with money, or the illusion of it – something that’s so common with new business owners. There she was, however, in a simple top and floral shorts and a strikingly bright red lip. She was simple and I was definitely impressed. I was also surprised to learn that she is a qualified C.A and currently on a two-month sabbatical – the only reason I was able to meet up with her during the week. We sat down to a cup of coffee and some banana bread and began our interview.
Lele was born in 1986, in Botshabelo, a small town just outside Bloemfontein. She is the last born of three kids. She did her primary education at Tlotlisang and completed high school at Navelsig. Her father owned taxis whilst her mother took care of the home and children – something she speaks of quite fondly. She remembers coming back from school after a bad day, and feeling comforted by the presence of her Mom. When she said this I made a quick mental note to remember that my kids have bad days too. She isn’t a mom yet, but it is something she aspires to, with the hope of being able to take some time out to be around for her children, but only for a few years.
She completed her degree at the University of Cape Town and says life there was hard. She was a recipient of a NSFS bursary which covered her tuition and accommodation but had to take on small promotional work for pocket money. Her second year was particularly difficult because it was the first time she had failed at anything, and although she had to stay an extra year, she did not lose sight of her goal. She managed to graduate in spite of that failure and the challenge of coming from a background of limited resources. Although her family desired to support her more, they were limited by their circumstances. Lele speaks of being loved and well provided for by her parents, in spite of their having never progressed beyond primary school in their own education. While they did not have the tools to help with her studies, they still provided an environment conducive to learning and encouraged her to study further.
Her apartment feels like it could easily be a condo in Blouberg; lots of pastel colours, a coastal feel, and quite spacious for Jo’burg’s northern suburbs. Hanging on a wall is a painting she bought in Greece on one of her travels – something she loves to do. Her love for experiencing different foods and cultures is evident, as is her passion for adventure; a trait that possibly spurred her on to starting a business, given that she had no specific plan to do so. Lele started growing her natural hair, and concurrently, her knowledge about different hair products. One of her inspirations was a friend who had run a similar business a few years ago, and her partner who helped with her brand and imaging. The rest, as they say, is history.
Lele’s hope is to build the business to a point where she can include her sister in the enterprise and that can support her should she ever leave the corporate environment. “My ultimate goal is to use my educational background and my corporate and business experience to contribute to the S.A economy through job creation.”