By Mzukona Mantshontsho
The name “Phela” means to live in Setswana. Our mission at Phela Spa is to give life to the body. This means that after each massage we strive to ensure that the body is restored, revived and refreshed.
How was your childhood and upbringing?
I was born and bred in Dobsonville, Soweto. I was raised in an average household by both parents who are teachers by profession. As you can imagine being raised by two teachers’ academics were prioritised and thus it was very important for me to further my education after matriculating at Lofentse Girls High. I went ahead and studied Computer Science an enhanced with PC engineering at Boston College. Later in my life after working for 15 years at Telkom as a technician, I was retrenched. During this period of unemployment, I was enlightened about my purpose in life, which is to provide healing. This is when I took it upon myself to do a short course in Kinesiology (study of body mechanics). That’s how Phela came about.
After high school, I have always dreamt of being a Radiologist. I therefore applied for the MBCHB (medicine) degree at UCT. Unfortunately, my father passed away during my matric final examinations and I mourned him during the first quarter of university. My mom suggested that I should study something else to keep myself busy during the year. This is when I decided to study Computer Science. But like I said before, there’s always been a void in e to pursue a career in the healthcare sector, to heal and restore lives. With God’s grace every step I took after being retrenched at Telkom directed me to my dream. Therefore, my role at Phela Spa means a lot to me because it fulfils me and enables me to live my life with purpose.
What are the critical resources for your successful leadership?
- Funds are extremely critical to be able to train and afford working equipment which continue to evolve with time.
- Knowledge and skills of equipment and massage techniques.
- Overall personal values which include respect for staff and customers, good communication skills, good teambuilding skills, conflict resolution skills and creativity because it is very important to be innovative in our field as there is plenty of competition.
Our short-term goals?
- We have a few upcoming events from August, and we are hoping to expand our brand by occupying different spaces and thus be accessible to our target market
- We hope to have a partnership with a marketing or public relations manager who will help improve our social media pages and make us more visible.
We are aiming at expanding our brand beyond Soweto Meat Lovers Lounge and have more branches across Soweto. This will enable us to employ more staff and thus we will be able to accommodate and provide services to many more customers.
We plan on including more advanced facial and nail services. With sufficient funding, we will be able to open a learning institution for young black females in Soweto who would like to acquire skills in the health and beauty sector.
What do you say to young people about starting small businesses?
I believe that everyone has a purpose. So, before anything else, it is essential that you find yourself and be aware of what makes you happy and what gives you the urge to want to wake up every morning and give your absolute best. After identifying this, set goals or yourself and work towards theses goal. Use the resources available to you and surround yourself with people who are in the same field with successful stories for mentorship and inspiration.
What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business?
- Covid-19 has had a negative impact negative on my small business in the following ways:
- As per lockdown level four and five regulations we had to temporarily close the business. This resulted in a loss in income and thus failure to maintain other aspects of the business and interference in consistent staff salary payment,
- I had to reduce staff because we could no longer afford all their salaries,
- As a result, this affected the capacity of customers we’re able to accommodate, and when customers hear that we are fully booked, they obviously go to the next spa.
What Legacy would you love to leave behind?
The personal values I would like to be remembered for are my humbleness and humanity. These are the ore values I aim to instil to every employee at Phela Spa. Hospitality is very important at Phela Spa, and I hope that we are remembered as the home for anyone and everyone. Legacy for me is not necessarily leaving tangible things or assets for people, it is leaving something people will remember and make a mark in their lives. Therefore, we ensure that everyone who visits our spa is provided with an unforgettable experience.
How does Phela Spa give back to the Community?
All the staff at Phela Spa are young black females from Soweto. We have employed theses young ladies and equipped them with training to become skilled therapists. We hope that as the business continues to grow, we will be able to employ many other females like them. We regularly visit old age homes and provide them with much needed therapeutic massages.
What have been the highs and lows of your working career?
The highs in my career is the continuous growth of my small business which has made a difference in my life and many other lives as well. I’ve had partnerships with people in hosting many successful events. I have reached my goal of making people, particularly in Soweto, aware that massages are essential for the general well-being and normal functioning of the body. The lows are the previously mentioned negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When you not at work, what do you get up to?
Outside of work, I am a wife and mother of 6 so my schedule is always busy with maintaining my business and household. I also spend my time trying o maintain a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym. If I am not at the spa, I go and stock up on products we use and also keep up with our social media pages.
Where can people follow you and get hold of you?
You can find us on Instagram and Facebook @Phela Spa & Bar and contact/WhatsApp me on +27 73 142 1017 for bookings and/or queries.