BACKSTORY: NativeChild founder Sonto Pooe
We question Sonto Pooe, the founder of NativeChild hair-care range
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Always highlight the "why" of what you’re selling. Remember, everyone is paying for convenience to make their lives easier, not more complicated.
What was your first job?
As a teenager I did hair for free for my family and for a small fee for those in my community. I also used to sew basic tops and shorts and my mom would sell them to her teacher friends at school. I started working at Steers when I began my tertiary education. My first formal job was with UWP Engineers.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was from Steers — I don’t recall the amount, but I opened a Truworths account and also bought all the junk food I wanted to eat. In my first formal job I was paid R3,000. Adulting had started and I had to contribute towards living costs, petrol, food, and so on. Somehow, I made it work.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
That being a boss means you will never rest. Being an entrepreneur is a lifetime commitment to your vision, staff and business partners. A business is a life force and must be nourished, pruned, cared for, for it to thrive.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
I saved about R8,000 for a car when I was studying. Someone mentioned investing in a site that was moving the original Yellow Pages online and sold me a pipe dream. I decided to gamble on the business and never saw my money again. But two months later I won a car. So it worked out in the end.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
Investing in myself. When you force yourself to overcome fear, you can follow your dreams. That is honestly the best investment you can make.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?
Not everyone will see your vision or even like to see you transform into the person you should be, and that’s OK.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is that fame doesn’t equate to fortune.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
I wouldn’t do anything else. There’s nothing more precious or satisfying than seeing someone smiling and thanking us after seeing a transformation.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would prioritise solving crime and issues of fraud. It’s a virus that is eating away at societies and destroying economies. We are capable of doing so much better.
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