To all the entrepreneurs out there Mpho Sedibe says: ‘It’s 100% OK to fall – never compromise or lose your integrity in the fall or in the getting up. Get up, dust yourself off, reflect, adapt, and get back in the ring!’
Whether it’s a manicure, massage, facial or your mane needing some style (ethnic or caucasian), Studio MoMa will have your hands and hair covered. And that goes for the gents too. Their tagline is ‘every day is about you’. Mpho Sedibe is an entrepreneur who believes that because she has been blessed and provided for daily, she should be a blessing to others daily as well. And she is doing more than a pretty good job at that. We asked her about her journey.
Your inspiration behind Studio MoMa? I grew up with significant self-esteem issues. The store was intended to be a place where our MoMa family (as we call our clients) renew their minds and love for themselves with every visit. It’s always been envisaged to be a place where you can feel like you’re in the company of your favourite people and that you leave with joy and peace to go about the rest of your activities. The past three years of trading has been a journey and a half but I’m glad I did it and would do it all over again. I’ve grown in amazing ways and, most importantly, I now consciously love myself unconditionally, which I didn’t know how to do before embarking on this journey.
What sets your grooming studio apart from the rest? We have built serving and honouring senior citizens into our business model. When you groom with us and you bring a senior citizen (above age 65), the senior citizen can groom for free up to the value of your treatments. If you don’t have a special senior with you on the day, you can notify the front desk to leave it as a voucher allocation which we will allocate to a senior citizen passing by our store.
Challenges that you have faced? Our first business model was completely wrong. One of our mentors described it as a socialist business model in a capitalist market. It crippled us badly and led to the closing of our flagship store. But as a business we have learnt from it and are rebuilding as best we can. In more real terms, on 16 March 2020 we had to suspend trading in the Ferndale store in response to the call for social distancing amid rising COVID-19 concerns – easiest the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make. It has tested whether we really do put people ahead of profit, and we can proudly say that we do. The full team is unfortunately now at home waiting on the outcome of the season the world is in. The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses is truly immeasurable. We continue to trust God to turn it around for the world at large, and restore all that has been lost.
Your advice for other entrepreneurs? Be sure that it’s your calling. We’re a weird bunch and you need a specific type of character to keep standing. There are many days of tears but it’s the calling that keeps giving you the courage to get back up again even if your nose is still plastered to the floor …
The best advice you have ever received from a mentor? ‘If someone approached you for business advice and presented this business to you, what would you say to them?’ This was a painful truth for me to digest but an important one. We can’t get so close that it impairs the ability to see things as they are. If you struggle with this, get the advice of a qualified stranger.
What keeps employees happy and motivated? From a culture perspective, I would put a peaceful environment, a caring team, and honesty and integrity at the top of the list. From a remuneration perspective, it’s a balance between predictability and an immediately visible risk/reward model. No deferred performance incentives, as the environment is cyclical. So, if I do well, reward me in the same cycle.
Mpho’s top tips for a successful business
Prayer This is the lifeline of Studio MoMa. We’ve repeatedly seen God’s faithfulness and know we will continue to do so.
Planning Be clear about where you want to go and what it will both take and cost to get there.
Strength To start, to stand, to push through, and to stay committed.
Discernment Quickly realise what (and who) isn’t meant for you. This is super important when it comes to people (employees, business partners, clients, etc). The wrong people will sink the boat.
Decisiveness Carry through the decisions and activities you need to even though they’re hard.
Wisdom When you don’t know, ask.
Capital Money is the currency …
Where do you see yourself in five years? A more diversified portfolio into tech-enabled solutions across a variety of industries (education, logistics, etc). I’m most excited about growing our new family business in small-scale agriculture.