From plaiting hair in high school to celebrating African beauty, Tanaka Nombulelo Mandidi Click To Tweet

Tanaka Nombulelo Mandidi is the creative mind behind the Cape Town-based Slay Studios, which is building its reputation in providing quality affordable products and service offerings that celebrate African beauty and heritage. 

She is driven by helping people take their dreams and turn them into business concepts. She is a makeup and hair enthusiast who loves to team her passions with social entrepreneurship. Tanaka considers wine her first love (apart from her husband), hates hiking and loves having a good laugh.


What was the spark that led you to start Slay Studios Cape Town?

I’ve always loved hair. I’ve been plaiting hair since high school and as time went on (through Youtube gurus) I taught myself more intricate styles and methods.

In 2015, I had a near death experience that made me reflect on how I was spending my time. I had a successful career, was married to the love of my life and adulting was finally making sense. Yet something in the deepest depth of my core was missing. I felt a joy in my heart every time someone asked me about hair, makeup or self-awareness.  And before I knew it, I had resigned from my job and stepped into what I believe God was calling me to.

Society has taught us that different is not ok. That there’s a standard of beauty we should all aspire to. That #proAfro means #Antiweave. There are so many distorted truths that have been sold to women of colour and its time those truths are unravelled.

That’s what Slay Studios is. A place where who you are is perfect.

Tanaka Nombuleleo Mandidi's Slay Studios is a place where who you are is perfect Click To Tweet

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What services do you offer your clients?

At the Weave Bar, we specialise in all things lace -closures, frontals, wigs and customisation. We talk through exactly what the client wants so everyone walks away from the experience satisfied. Our premium virgin hair is sourced directly from India and undergoes a UV treatment before being retailed to our customers as Slay, our hairline.

Currently, our services include bridal makeup or special event makeovers. Our Designer Accesories include our #eyecandy, #armcandy, #scentcandy  and #clutchcandy collections.

At the heart of what we do is the Slay Foundation. 10% of sales from our services and accessories go into the foundation. Sometimes we makeover young girls, or wash and care for a homeless mother’s hair. Our mission is to make a difference in one person’s life a day.

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Why Cape Town?

It’s very hard to find a clean, modern space where African people can get their hair done without compromise.  We’re so used to bad service that its normal to not like your hair when you leave. Cape Town has so much room for improvement in services provided to young, modern black women.

Tanaka Mandidi: Cape Town can improve in services provided to young, modern black women Click To Tweet

Our next target cities are Johannesburg and Harare in Zimbabwe -the latter being our attempt to staying close to home and bringing change in our home community.

How has the journey been from when you decided to open up shop to now?

Start up a business they said. It will be a walk in the park they said.

THEY LIED.

When you work for a company you’re hired to perform a specific task. With a start up, you are EVERYTHING to your business. You are the accountant, marketing director, lawyer, and stylist. Your business requires you to fulfill all those roles (or hire someone who will) for the cogs to move. And that’s where its so easy to drop the ball.

It took about a year for me to figure out what I was doing and a good 5 months after resigning for me to open up the storefront. Some days are amazing. Some days aren’t. Those amazing days keep me going.  Planning and vision are also very important. The details? – not so much. When the small stuff faces you, you make a quick decision and move on. The key word there is moving on.

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Where do you see Slay in the future?

My dream is for Slay to grow, influencing fashion, beauty and having an impact on social issues.

Our *top secret* in-house makeup line for women of colour is under construction. We plan to expand into the African accessories platform and exclusive virgin hair extensions line. My hopes are to interact with different women and inspire them to own their identity.

My hopes are to interact with different women and inspire them to own their identity Click To Tweet

We’re hoping to grow our team and move into a bigger space to allow for content production, hosting makeup workshops and development classes. With growing sales, we’ll have more contributions to our social impact ventures and be able to bring beauty to more women in the Western Cape and one day, all over Africa.


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