We had a great opportunity to hear from the humble pioneer that is Jabu Stone. He had a great deal to impact on us, and we’ll share some of the things he had to tell us on his journey to making a good quality brand – if not great judging by the challenges he had to endure in realising the now, well known, brand that is Jabu Stone. He took us back to the roots of his deep and long history of his involvement with hair. Actually, his mother used to plait choir women from her father’s church; from where he was introduced to doing hair. He had to help out where he could, when the number of people who needed hair makeovers would overwhelm his mom. In fact, Jabu Stone’s older sister was the first of the family to go into a business venture in hair styling. She used to do perms for her family members from where people, from surrounding areas, started to converge towards her because of the good job she did on her family’s hair.
Jabu Stone, again, would have to assist where he could – his role, this time around, being more on the marketing and branding side (the more so since Jabu Stone was at the Wits Business School doing a Retail Development Programme; where he realised the need for branding and marketing). But there was a dilemma at that time, as many people would burn their scalps whilst chemical treating their hair. Jabu Stone, then, went to one prominent salon owner at the time to learn technics on how to avoid burning scalps; with the then available hair chemicals (mind you, he was working full-time at the time and had to fit this endeavour on his weekends). Overtime, he realised that the products where detrimental to the health. He, then, made a conscious decision, for the sake of his sisters and brothers, and seeing that black hair naturally locks when left uncombed, to make endeavours in formulating products that would enrich, nourish black hair; whilst preserving the natural African look.
On how he came up with innovative ways of formulating his products; Jabu Stone was to learn from his personal research and, at one point, he worked at Engineering Technical Assistance on Research and Development, which, evident enough, would aid in his professionally immaculate finesse product manufacturing skills. One of the things he noticed was that people had difficult in managing their hair. He had the end in mind – he wanted his products to hold the hair together, give nutritional oils striped off during shampooing, protect the scalp from harsh ultra-violet rays and maintain the colour of one’s hair.
His wish, he says, was to have the product available nationally and sell 10 000 units, at first. And create as many jobs as he could. He says, “I don’t want my stuff hanging around for too long. I want them to grow, be independent, and hire other people as well”. His definition of success is, he says,”Seeing someone at the end of the month go home with a smile knowing that they are going to feed their families.”
He emphasized the importance of a quality product and service by this advice, “You want to leave a mark and people need to have confidence in your product. People should love, embrace and protect it.” He adds, “One needs to understand the field one partakes in. You must be able to answer questions on it and be able to present it. Don’t rush for money, but strive for quality, consistence and delivery. People have to be able to access your product or service. And most importantly, do what you love and be customer oriented.”
To learn about Jabu Stone the brand visit www.jabustone.co.za
By Themba ka Mhlanga; Khulani Sikhosana