Although they are separated by thousands of miles, Texan Renée Rouleau and South African Ntombenhle Khathwane were brought together through their love of beauty and their unflagging commitment to entrepreneurship.
Khathwane is a hair care entrepreneur from South Africa who is the most recent winner of the lateral-thinking business competition “Pitch & Polish.” Khathwane, who just turned 33, beat out the competition with her original line of hair products called Afro Botanics.
As the "Pitch & Polish" winner, Khathwane traveled to Dallas on March 21-26, to participate in a think tank and workshop created especially for her by Renée Rouleau. With spa clientele from across the US and Europe, and sales of more than 75 skin care products online, Rouleau was an excellent connection for Khathwane. Rouleau is a member of the Dallas Chapter of the global Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) which promotes mentorship and peer-to-peer connections between successful entrepreneurs.
“I am so glad to work with Khathwane, who is very talented and deserving of the ‘Pitch & Polish’ win. She’s extremely bright and hardworking, and I’m eager to share the knowledge I have gained through developing my own beauty business,” says Rouleau. “I think the opportunity to learn from each other will be a wonderful privilege for us both and I’m eager to help her succeed in her home country.”
Rouleau created a customized curriculum just for Khathwane that included a think tank meeting for strategic ideas and goal planning, business plan development, and exploration of the direction Khathwane’s business is headed. Khathwane attended meetings with Rouleau and got a special behind-the-scenes look at how Rouleau’s business operates from a finance, marketing, management and sales perspective.
Rouleau’s passion for empowering women to reach their full potential has been recognized throughout her career. Renée Rouleau Skin Care was named Top Employer in 2006 by Day Spa Magazine; the award honors a business owner who has a high percentage of long term employees, offers outstanding benefits and has helped their employees grow professionally.
Khathwane’s Afro Botanics sprang from her own difficulties with chemically processing her hair. “Because ethnic hair is so difficult to manage, women turn to chemical processing, which can burn the scalp and cause irreparable damage to hair,” says Khathwane, who is almost finished earning her Masters in Management in Public Policy at the University of Witwatersrand.
“Afro Botanics uses natural and organic products and formulas to care for the hair and limit damage as much as possible,” continues Khathwane. “It is also my goal to educate people on ingredients so they can choose cosmetics the same way they choose food.”
Image courtesy of Morville Reilly.