Con­nie trans­forms from fit­ness to beauty

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MPILETSO MOTUMI @mane_mpi

BE­FORE Con­nie Bhebhe started to in­vest in her cos­met­ics brand, she spent most of her days in track­suit pants.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing JLo when I was 14 and she was danc­ing and singing. I re­mem­ber think­ing how amaz­ing she was as the full pack­age.”

Bhebhe spent a lot of time work­ing on her body and even­tu­ally started on gym-fit­ness com­pe­ti­tions.

“I had a prob­lem with that lower-belly area and I wanted to get rid of it but still keep my curves. I re­alised I had to do a lot of car­dio to get rid of it.”

She used cling and plas­tic wraps around her mid­sec­tion and then de­cided to find a ma­te­rial that could do the same thing or work even bet­ter.

“I de­signed the ma­te­rial into some­thing that looks pre­sentable and a per­son wouldn’t need to hide when wear­ing.”

That’s how her fit­ness busi­ness Cobe Fit gained mo­men­tum. Her ther­mosculpt belts are avail­able for or­der and used by sev­eral celebri­ties.

She branched out into cos­met­ics af­ter two years of run­ning Cobe Fit.

“I al­ways found my­self in gym clothes and felt like I didn’t look like a girl any­more so I thought I need to trans­form my­self. What could I do that wouldn’t be dras­tic but would still make me feel a lit­tle more like a girl? Make-up was the ob­vi­ous choice.”

By that time though, all Bhebhe knew was how to ap­ply make-up in the same way she’d been do­ing since she was 17.

“I didn’t even know how to do my brows. I had been wear­ing the same lip­stick since for­ever, so I tried to look at what else was out there.”

While trav­el­ling to Canada last year Bhebe tried dif­fer­ent brands but still couldn’t find the right shade.

“When I re­turned I wanted to get a lot more stuff but a lot of brands were ei­ther too ex­pen­sive or just not the right one. It was a case of: ‘If I’m get­ting into make-up again for the first time, I’m not go­ing to spend that much money on just one item’.”

A friend of hers planted the seed to start her own cos­met­ics brand.

“It was weird for me be­cause I was all about fit­ness and peo­ple iden­ti­fied me with that, so I thought they would call my bluff if I was sud­denly this beauty girl.”

For a long time she looked for some­one who could be the face of her brand while she fo­cused on the busi­ness end, but no one was buying into her vi­sion.

“I ended up us­ing my face and name. Three months later we put out our first Con­nie Trans­form range of lip shades.”

Bhebhe gained an edge from not look­ing at her com­peti­tors.

“It was a bless­ing be­cause you hear a lot of noise about what other peo­ple are do­ing. All I knew was I could not find the kind of lip­stick I wanted any­where.”

The only dif­fi­culty she faced was get­ting the for­mula right.

“It took three rounds of sam­ples. It costs money to get the sam­ples – time and money.

“If it doesn’t work out a sec­ond time you start to feel dis­cour­aged. I had to try one more time and it was per­fect. The smell was per­fect, it was light on the lips, it was long wear and smudge free. I could not be­lieve it.”

Sampling is where a lot of peo­ple give up but Bhebhe said was im­por­tant to go the ex­tra mile and put in the ex­tra hours.

“Many peo­ple are not will­ing to do that and that’s the start­ing point a lot of peo­ple need.”

Con­nie Trans­form has 20 dis­trib­u­tors and Bhebhe hopes to get it to 100 be­fore the end of this year.

“In the next month, I will be re­leas­ing high-qual­ity lashes. I was so de­ter­mined to get them right, prob­a­bly the hard­est thing af­ter eye­brows.”

The 27-year-old is also work­ing on launch­ing other beauty prod­ucts.

She said so­cial me­dia had a big in­flu­ence on beauty.

“As Africans, what we would look at ini­tially were peo­ple’s clothes and the cars they drove to de­ter­mine who they were. Now we are get­ting more into de­tail – what kind of hair and make-up she’s wear­ing. We are zoom­ing into ev­ery­thing, not just how you live, it’s more about skin, where you’re eat­ing, where you’re in­vited and so on.”

Some­how she’s man­ag­ing to jug­gle it all, with­out ty­ing to man­age her time.

“I re­alised I was go­ing to be suc­cess­ful if my work and I be­came one. So it’s a com­plete mash-up. I have no sched­ule. I could work for six hours in the morn­ing or evening or go for break­fast and work for an hour. I re­ally wanted to de­sign my busi­nesses to fit my life and not the other way around.”

‘I’d be suc­cess­ful if my work and I be­came one’


PER­FECT FIT: Con­nie Bhebhe, the owner of cos­met­ics brand Con­nie Trans­form, wanted a lip­stick that could work per­fectly on all shades.

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