The hair industry is thriving

They say a woman’s hair is her crowning glory and some sisters are spending a fortune “investing” in their collections of imported Brazilian, Peruvian and Malaysian weaves.

Others go for silky manes resembling those worn by celebrities like Lerato Kganyago and Bonang Matheba but the flowing curls are also becoming popular.

Scottsville’s Nonhlanhla Buthelezi, who imports hair from abroad and has clients all over KwaZulu-Natal, said the price depends on the quality and length of the mane.

“The shortest hairpiece is the size of the bob and can set you back about R1 500. Depending on how much profit your supplier wants, you can pay more than R10 000 for the three bundles of 26 to 30 inches and the frontal closure.”

Buthelezi said her business works on a referral system.

“I provide a quality product because that’s my only form of marketing. People see it on another client’s head then phone me to place orders.”

Most of her regular clients work in government but she also has university students who buy from her. She said she gives her regular clients discounts because hair is not her only source of income.

Buthelezi works as a teller at one of the prominent banks in Pietermaritzburg. She said she accidentally got into the hair business when her now 20-year-old sister wanted a Peruvian weave for her 18th birthday.

“I didn’t know anyone who sold hair so I went asking around in hair salons and it just seemed expensive. I got lucky with one of the hair stylists who advised me to order it from China.

“She gave me the names of the websites and everything. When I compared the cost price and what people were selling it for I realised that there was a lot of money to be made, so now hair is officially my ‘side-hustle’,” she said.

Most of her regular clients have invested in more than one weave. One of them is Zinhle Mlambo (28), who works in provincial government. She has an 18-inch lace wig which cost her R3 000 and three weaves in varying lengths and styles, which together cost just over R11 000.

“It seems like a lot of money to spend on hair but I didn’t buy it all at once. I think it’s better to buy expensive weaves, because you have them for life if you take good care of them, than to spend money on cheap ones that you only use once then throw away,” she said.

Mlambo mostly keeps her natural hair in cornrows. She doesn’t like relaxing it so she keeps it in an Afro.

“Having weaves gives me the freedom to wear my natural hair however I want to but, I can still look like a million dollars in my weaves if I want,” she said with a giggle.