In conversation with type4girl, as part of our collaboration with The Flamboyance Clique (TFC), Johanne discusses her childhood aspirations, academic and career journey and life as a relatively new beauty entrepreneur having founded Elite Beauty by Johanne.k this year and also running it full time. She also tells us how her encounter with TFC became an instant game changer.
In a delightfully stunning twist, we learn that Johanne and Nompumelo ‘Mpumie’ Mondlane, the co-founder of The Flamboyance Clique, have never actually met. “I’m getting goosebumps just talking about this! Mpumie and I met on Instagram, we liked one another’s pictures back and forth until she sent me a DM one day inviting me to an event she’d be hosting in Witbank. I hesitated at first because of the location but I thought let me just take a chance and go. We exchanged numbers, started talking on WhatsApp and now we’re really great friends,” she says.
WOMEN SHOWING UP FOR WOMEN ISN’T A MYTH
Johanne is clearly in awe as she tells us about Mpumie and the impact she’s had on her both personally and as an emerging entrepreneur. “She made sure people followed me and knew about my brand despite me not being there, I don’t even know how she did that. I had people ordering things and asking me about my products, I was floored! Mpumie’s motto is women showing up for women, and you know what, I witnessed her and other women who didn’t even know me show up for me. The short journey I’ve had in entrepreneurship taught me that people say a lot of things but never really see them through. But Mpumie said one thing and completely over-delivered, she went above and beyond for me, and all for a R300 ticket? Ah, I am so grateful for her and The Flamboyance Clique! The people I met through her and the exposure I got through TFC is just amazing. Mpumie brings women together and I love that, she is an amazing person,” she gushes.
Although in the end, Johanne was unable to attend the Delightful Budtime Matinee meet up hosted by TFC in October, she and Mpumie continue to be in touch despite never meeting in person. She is still hoping to make sure they meet eventually and adds, “Mpumie is one woman I’d go the extra mile to meet, she is just, wow.”
WORKING AT THE UN MADE ME FEEL SO ALIVE
Very early in her high school career, Johanne had her mind set on being a politician. “When I was around 12, 13, a teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up and I said I wanted to be a politician. But my teacher said being a politician wasn’t a profession and that I would have to be more specific, so I said a diplomat and a writer.”
But as it usually goes, these aspirations evolved as she grew older. She shares, “as I grew older I wanted to be a lawyer. I ended up studying Business Economics, I recently obtained my Masters Degree, and it’s completely different from what I imaged myself doing.”
Johanne wound up with an internship at the UN, right up her alley and early life ambitions. “When I started working there I was like whoa, this is exactly the environment I want to be in. You even asking me this question makes me understand why working there made me feel so alive. I was surrounded by diplomats and people making a big impact. So I started as an intern then I did consultancy work related to languages. I’d attend outreach events at high schools for instance, telling people about the UN and what it is all about. But you how how it is working as a consultant, I didn’t get to work all the time so I decided I wanted to do something else.”
I LOVE EVERYTHING THAT HAS TO DO WITH BEAUTY: I love the person I’ve become since founding Elite Beauty by Johanne.k
“I am a beauty enthusiast, I love everything that has to do with beauty. People would always compliment my lashes and wigs.” Johanne only dabbled in beauty for fun at the time, so sometimes instead of selling her products, she’d give them away to those around her. Then one day, a beautician she’d gotten acquainted with asked her why she didn’t sell her lashes seriously. “I’ve had a number of people encourage me to do it before but she was the one that got me to my AHA founding moment. I’ve always thought of starting a beauty business, but when she, a beautician, said it, I knew I had to do it,” she says.
In July this year she officially founded Elite Beauty by Johanne.k. “I sell eyelashes, wigs and serum to grow the hairline. Since launching, I’m a whole new person and I love this person I am. I get to meet so many inspirational people as an entrepreneur and that really helps me along with my journey.”
What were some of your biggest fears starting?
“I worried a lot about what people were going to say. Most of my friends are career people working 9 to 5s in corporate. I remember telling my best friend, who is a pharmacist about my idea and she told me not to mind what people would say. She encouraged me to go for it if it made me happy. In March when I told my sister about opening a business and I had put together a mission and vision and even had a logo, I shared that with her. She was so happy for me. Now, my sister does not know much about business, she is in the health industry, but she said this is the story of how you built your empire, your business will be successful. Like I mentioned before, I’ve always wanted to sell beauty products and my mother was one of those people who’d always encourage me to go for it, even though I didn’t do it back then. But I still worried about what people would say, like here I am with all these degrees wanting to sell beauty products. I also worried about failing and whether or not my family would be proud of me and the path I’d chosen to take.”
Do you run Elite Beauty by Johanne.k full time?
“Yes, and I teach French and offer translation and interpretation services.”
What do the next 5 years look like for you?
“Personally I want to continue being a happy person and learning; when I climb up, I want to pull other people up with me. Business wise, I want Elite Beauty to be featured in major publications and have my lashes stocked at retailers like Clicks. It’s official so I can share some amazing news with you – as of the end of November, Elite Beauty by Johanne.k products will be available at Edenvinne, a South African beauty and grooming store opening soon in Menlyn!”
What do you do when you’re not working?
“I am an ambivert. I am about 70% extrovert and 30% introvert, I need to recharge after I hang with other people, even though I enjoy hanging out with other people. I love attending conferences, and going to markets. I like spending time with my family and friends, going out and doing picnics. I like watching Netflix, movies and reading books. I like going to the spa for beauty treatments. And when I need to recharge I’ll go on solo dates. Travelling! What am I talking about, I love travelling, and food. I’ve tried all sorts of South African, Brazilian, Mozambican, Angolan, Palestinian and Ethiopian food. Whenever I meet someone from a different country, I just want to try their food!”
“Take risks, what people think or say isn’t relevant. Be confident, be bold most importantly, love yourself. If it feels right and good for you, do it. If something is meant for you, it will happen.”