By Motlabana Monnakgotla
Phiwe Mngadi is teaching other women make-up skills and empowering them to launch their own beauty businesses.
Phiwe Mngadi learned the intricate art of micro-blading (eyebrow tattooing) as an extension of what she already knew: nail art and make-up, which she picked up while still at high school.
She didn’t know then that years later, she would turn entrepreneur with her own outfit, the Plush Art Studio, in Johannesburg.
The make-up artist, who has now turned teacher, started in the beauty industry as a nail technician at the age of 17. Self-taught, even way back, instead of attending her matric dance, Mngadi was gainfully employed making her classmates look glamorous for their special day.
She has since not looked back. Having worked in beauty salons in and around Johannesburg to gain more knowledge and experience in the industry, she has now built her own personal brand.
“You learn a lot that way,” says Mngadi of her journey.
In 2015, she resigned as a salaried employee working in salons. She knew she had plenty to offer as an entrepreneur and launched Plush Art in vibrant Soweto and has since expanded to Africa’s richest square mile – Sandton in Johannesburg.
Her focus is permanent make-up and micro-blading.
“You don’t need a specific background or qualification to be in the business, that’s what I love about this industry. Having said that, my journey has been interesting because I’ve started teaching women from different walks of life on how to do permanent makeup and this includes doctors, lawyers, cashiers, teachers, and anyone with the drive to learn the skill with respective qualifications,” says Mngadi.
She adds that she has made an impact in invariably helping women start a new career in the beauty business and become self-sufficient.
With Covid-19 and the world shutting down, she says Plush Art Studio somehow managed to stay afloat.
“I had savings to overcome the stress that came with not working. Business did take a hard knock but women are always desperate to do their brows, so when the country opened, we were back in business and making sales again,” she says.
Mngadi says she has traveled across Africa imparting what she knows. She also has a worked with South African celebrities such as Natasha Thahane, Thando Thabethe and Palesa Madisakwane.
From Soweto to Sandton, she is leaving her mark.