The man in the mir­ror

The modern man is tak­ing bet­ter care of him­self – and this is pro­vid­ing busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for start-ups

Destiny Man - - ENTREPRENEURS -

or the past few years, male groom­ing has seen an un­prece­dented up­surge and var­i­ous young South African en­trepreneurs are prof­it­ing from the trend.

Mar­ket in­tel­li­gence pub­lisher Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional re­ported that men’s skin­care – in­clud­ing hand and night creams – is en­joy­ing an an­nual in­crease of 8% in re­tail sales.

Lo­cally, re­search firm Spark Me­dia noted that ap­prox­i­mately 85% of black males in ur­ban set­tings are us­ing groom­ing products specif­i­cally de­vel­oped for their needs. With SA hav­ing so many cit­i­zens from di­verse back­grounds, this has proven to be a happy hunt­ing ground for en­trepreneurs who spot­ted the trend early.

ONE-STOP SHOP

In 2003, the Word of the Year was “met­ro­sex­ual”, but in lat­ter years, the word “über­sex­ual” has over­taken it. It refers to men who spruce up their looks, but still main­tain their “brutish”, ma­cho charm.

These “groomists” are drawn to start-ups that of­fer them a one-stop so­lu­tion, al­low­ing them to pur­chase the finest clothes, thread their hair, tweeze their brows, be ca­ressed us­ing cor­rec­tive cream and re­ceive a mas­sage while their suits are be­ing tai­lored. This is ex­actly why The Gallery Squared – lo­cated at 6 Kramer Rd, Kramerville, Sand­ton, Jo’burg – was founded in 2011.

Themba Mthethwa (32) and his busi­ness part­ner, Pa­trick Mphahlele, used to of­fer only be­spoke and tai­lored suits, but no­ticed that their clients were go­ing else­where for a man­i­cure, a pedi­cure, a mas­sage and a hair­cut. They re­alised there was a need for a one-stop of­fer­ing for men. “There’s noth­ing bet­ter than go­ing to a sin­gle venue where a man’s ev­ery need is ful­filled in terms of groom­ing. That takes a lot of stress off our cus­tomers’ shoul­ders,” says Mthethwa.

“We’ve seen a 70% growth in men who take the time out for groom­ing. And don’t be fooled into think­ing it’s only the younger gen­er­a­tion do­ing this – we see older men do­ing it too,” he adds.

At The Gallery Squared, groom­ing starts with the fra­grance lightly per­me­at­ing the premises. This is com­ple­mented by mood-set­ting mu­sic and the sense of com­mu­nity among those who fre­quent the es­tab­lish­ment.

“Male groom­ing is def­i­nitely a grow­ing trend. When we talk to our cus­tomers, they say they do it for var­i­ous rea­sons. Some say it boosts their con­fi­dence, oth­ers say it’s to im­press the fairer sex and still oth­ers sim­ply con­sider it good man­ners,” says Mthethwa.

The Gallery Squared caters for a pre­dom­i­nantly black mar­ket, but faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion from other es­tab­lish­ments – par­tic­u­larly white-run ones, which Mthethwa says are still be­lieved by many blacks to of­fer bet­ter ser­vice.

“One of the most se­ri­ous is­sues we face is that black start-ups aren’t seen in the same light as white ones. Many blacks still suf­fer from an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex, as we as­so­ciate black busi­ness with sub-stan­dard qual­ity, while white-owned busi­nesses can do no wrong.

“This ap­plies not only to the male groom­ing in­dus­try, but also to sec­tors such as IT, con­struc­tion, fash­ion, etc. So my ad­vice to young black peo­ple is that as men, we should have more con­struc­tive con­ver­sa­tions. We should mould each other and talk about how we can club to­gether to own prop­er­ties and busi­nesses. Then, when these ma­te­ri­alise, we should en­sure we sur­pass our clients’ ex­pec­ta­tions be­yond their wildest imag­i­na­tions!”

* Twit­ter: @Gallerysquared2 In­sta­gram: @the­gallerysquared

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