Putting PMB on the toy map

PIETERMARITZBURG’S very own entrepreneur, Noni Mthethwa, after finding what she deems a major hole in the toy industry, is now a finalist in the Standard Bank entrepreneurial competition My Fearless Next.

After losing the bulk of her product in a fire, Mthethwa said the competition could not have come at a better time as she and her business partner, Luleka Nzimande, seek to boost their business.

My Fearless Next by Standard Bank involves six boot camps whereby entrepreneurs are invited to meet mentors who will offer inspiration and business strategies to pick up on. Those who excel in the boot camps will have the opportunity to win a year’s salary, all while focusing on their business.

Having qualified as a finalist, Mthethwa said that it had been an amazing experience thus far.

“The experience has been amazing. I attended the boot camp, which taught me how to get out of my comfort zone — it allowed me to think outside the box and also take our loss as a learning curve.

“As a finalist, I think it has given us the edge to want to push harder and make sure that our brand becomes the best in South Africa as a whole,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa’s business, called “Girlz Ink”, was created when Mthethwa and Nzimande realised the need to represent children of otherwise under-represented cultures, and thus baby Thando was born.

“She was created to ensure that all children are represented on the shelves. That increases self-confidence because they too feel as if they matter.

“In a world where being dark is dubbed as not being pretty, it was important for us to ensure that we introduce a doll that children will like and feel confident playing with,” said Mthethwa.

Baby Thando has also been made into a cartoon character, with the range extending to luggage, pillows and clothing.

“We want to occupy the entire girls merchandising department because we feel we [as South Africans] idolise a lot of international brands instead of our own,” said Mthethwa.

As entrepreneurs from Pietermaritzburg, Mthethwa and Nzimande want to make sure that they put the city on the map by being the biggest brand that has come out of the city.