Candice Thurston, CEO and founder of Candi & Co salon franchise, built her hair and beauty empire by giving TLC to all hair textures.
The ambitious entrepreneur always had a love for the beauty and hair industry after growing up in the small town of Secunda under the oppressive regime of apartheid South Africa. The policing of women of colour’s hair and appearance inspired Candice Thurston to seek equality for all women when it comes to the business of beauty.
“From a young age I always knew I wanted to get into a space where I could drive equality for everybody. I come from a mixed-race family. I have almost every race group of the world was my family. Race and inequality was a thing that we grew up with. My mom and I loved beauty and she was very fashionable. She had very curly hair and I have straight hair, and when we’d go into salons they’d say like we do your type of hair but not your type of hair,” she said.
Candice birthed the Candi & Co brand and business after being inspired by Sorbet founder Ian Fuhr’s franchise presentation, which emphasised business with purpose and dedication to meaningful change in people’s lives. Candice wasted no time sending an email of to Ian about her “crazy idea” to implement Sorbet’s vision for women of colour. Candice put together an intense business plan, presented it and absolutely wowed Ian and his partner as they bought into her vision right away, and as they say the rest is history.
“I once did a research study of almost 3000 women. I found that women were getting their scalps burnt from relaxers, braiding was too tight. I thought how is this still happening? I applied for a Sorbet franchise. I said to my husband, we need to do this for women of colour – have a business that has culture and vision in changing society. It’s the 21st century and we still have women who can’t go into a salon and have their natural hair or get braids done in the right way,” she said.
“The number one thing for me was driving the economic intent, by creating a sustainable future for the stylists. I love the franchise model that gets more women of colour to own businesses that is in the franchise space so they’re more guided and coached. It’s all about changing women’s lives. I wanted to deracialise hair and beauty and we’ve achieved that and continue to. I think I broke historical ideas,” Candice said.
4 years later, with the first pilot store opening in 2015 and growing to almost 8 stores (Candice says god willing) by the end of 2018 and Candice and her team are still going strong.
Candice emphasizes the need for entrepreneurs to be realistic and that it is no walk in the park. However, with passion and unlocking funding will help you get started.
“As an entrepreneur you must be a little bit of crazy and extremely passionate about the industry you are in, because on the days when there’s no money coming through, big challenges and you’re not enjoying it – passion is what gets you through. I’m so passionate about changing lives and hair and beauty are tools for me to drive equality in South Africa. Our goal at Candi & Co is to drive employment. We have already employed over 100 people and we know in South Africa, every 1 impacts 10 other people so we’ve impacted a 1000 people,” Candice said.
Candice left us with pearls of wisdom…
“You have to be in it a 1000%. Be able to pay yourself a salary even if it’s a small one even. Patience, take the time to build the concept and build the capital. You can’t run a business if you can’t even pay the rent, plan for that. Always understand your profitability in the space. I think a lot of people get excited about the idea, but they don’t understand an income statement or a balance sheet. You don’t have to be an accountant, but finances are the oxygen of your business,” she said.
So, starting a business is not easy, especially in such a saturated and competitive industry like hair and beauty. However, Candice has shown us that it possible, with a little luck, hope and putting yourself out there to take a chance.
You don’t have to wait on some investor to invest in your idea. Sometimes you must take that leap of faith and bet on yourself.