Windhoek — Anna Ueitele is a 'struggle kid' who was born in 1983 in the Huambo province of Angola during Namibia's liberation struggle and is now making waves in the beauty business.
Her mother passed away shortly after independence. Ueitele, who claims never to have had the feel for education after she failed Grade 12, turned her attention to plaiting dreadlocks while at the same time pursuing training as a beauty technician.
Ueitele was trained by the popular dancehall artist Mr Simple during his days in the hair salon business. Since 2008, Ueitele has laboured hard to make a living, constantly renting chairs in salons to make ends meet and saving every penny she made.
"Together with my sister, Linda, we started doing research and asking customers what would be their practical idea of a salon. The answer was simple. They would rather have their hair done first, then move on to get their nails done, then their faces and then a massage after all is done, rather than walking around town. So that was the idea that I had to work with from then on," she explained.
In an attempt to raise money, she rented chairs in other hair salons and sub-leased them to other hairdressers for a profit, all the while renting her own chair in another salon, as well as doing house calls. This went on for months until she thought she could do more provided she had proper guidance and assistance.
"So we applied to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and they provided us with two hairdryers, a steamer, a massage bed, a basin and a trolley - but still, this was not enough for us to start our own salon, so the equipment remained in the garage while we saved more money and it allowed me to operate from home as well," she said
She eventually got in touch with Broll Namibia - a company that rents retail and office space among others, and obtained a lease that was approved in June 2012. She also decided to write a business plan and began what could be summarized as an arduous process of applying for loans.
"We applied to various places but they didn't grant our loans saying 'yes we like this plan, but... .' There was always a 'but'. That is when I approached Lorraine, who at that time was my client, for financial assistance and to become my partner and she readily agreed, no contract and all.
"We also approached Konga Investments and we were lucky because some of their employees liked our plan as well. They gave us assistance while my uncle also helped us to obtain a proof of funds certificate."
She finally was in a position to open a spacious shop - which she named 'Ndilianna' - in the Town Square complex.
Today Ueitele employs 30 people in her salon and specializes in female hairstyling. She rents out 13 of 16 chairs. Among her employees are nail technicians and a masseur who also doubles as a pedicurist and facist, while also performing eyelash modifications.
"Ndiliana means 'Anna is with you.' I was given my grandmother's name Anna so it fits well. But also, it is a mixture of the first letters of my second name Ndilipale."
"Sometimes not everyone is good in studies, but they may possess a unique talent which will never stop, but grows from a small thing into something big. I always had to believe in what I wanted and never thought lowly of myself. People have to manifest themselves and believe in the future, to concentrate and work very hard," she enthuses.
"Sometimes parents think that working in a salon is not a job. One day the child will be in the street, it can happen and we gladly train people in a tight situation. I never wanted to study because I was not a fast learner, but I always knew I had talent. Where I grew up there was no one there for me, so I just had to keep rolling with the punches and pushing myself to become something," said Ueitele.
Meanwhile, partner Lorraine !Gaoses claims she was once Ueitele's guinea pig and it was basically how the door opened to her success. "She was very eager and realized there are no classy salons in Windhoek's malls. I readily assisted her with finances and now we boast full body and deep tissue massages with our highly trained masseur.
"We also do facials, pedicures and deluxe eyelashes. It has been a long time since I was Anna's guinea pig where she would try out her styles on me," said !Gaoses.