Businesswoman flourishes in Nyanga

When former first lady of the United States Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, she never thought her words would inspire a young Nyanga woman.

Despite living in one of the most violent townships in the country, Yonela Stevens, 27, has not been deterred to follow her dream.

Ten years ago she started the Lady Yoee Nails and Beauty salon, while holding other jobs. In the past four year she worked her butt off to make sure that her salon was the best in the area. It’s now a well-known nail and beauty salon in Nyanga and it attracts clients from across the Cape Flats.

When Vukani visited her on Monday, the place was abuzz with activity but closed to the general public. Yonela explained that this was because she is running a monthly course to 11 nail technicians with the hope that they will get meaningful employment in the beauty industry or start their own business. “I come from a disadvantaged background, raised by a single parent who worked as a machinist and supervisor in a factory shop. We used to struggle and I was worried I won’t have money for varsity so I had an idea. I started in 2008, my matric year, as a self-taught nail technician and make-up artist,” Yonela said.

She started off small in a wendy house she bought when she was working part-time in a restaurant. “I have been doing this to support me, my family and also pay for my studies. I graduated with a public relations diploma and marketing degree and I had a broader vision for my business.

“I built a nice salon in my house and I applied my qualifications in my business,” she said.

Now after 10 years of good business, she has decided to share her experiences with others by starting a school for women who want to open their own beauty salons. The one-month training workshop aims to assist those who are unemployed to gain independence and a skill that would be useful to them in years to come.

“They will have a source of income and I even offer it to employed women who are keen to start their businesses and work for themselves. I started the training beginning of February and by month-end the women will be receiving their certificates of attendance and I will be hosting a mini ceremony in March,” she added.

As Yonela moves from table to table you get the sense that her trainees are ready to be unleashed into the entrepreneurial world. “I am a self-taught nail technician and make-up artist and I work with women who want to change their lives through hard work and dedication,” said Yonela.

Yonela will soon be spreading her wings to Port Elizabeth where she hopes to open a branch of “beautiful believers”.