Hailing from the vibrant township of Alexandra in Gauteng, 23-year-old medical science student Ayanda Majola is a bright entrepreneur determined to make her mark in the personal care industry with her skincare brand Yanda Cosmetics.
Yanda Cosmetics founder and managing director Ayanda Majola. Source: Supplied
Like many successful business stories, the idea for the venture developed from a personal need - Majola's quest for products that were effective at caring for her acne-prone skin.
Since launching her business in 2021, Majola has juggled her studies with running a budding business, and she's grown her range and retail partnerships along the way, expanding beyond local shores into Botswana. Her entrepreneurial efforts scored her a spot on Mail & Guardian's list of 200 Young South Africans in 2022.
Yanda Cosmetics skincare. Source: Supplied
In light of Youth Month, Majola shares her business journey with Bizcommunity - from leaning into her background in medical science to navigating the competitive beauty market, and the challenges and highlights she's experienced along the way.
What inspired you to launch your own line of skincare and cosmetics?
The inspiration behind launching my brand is deeply rooted in my personal struggles with acne which I have faced since I was 13. After experiencing the physical and psychological effects of living with a skin condition firsthand, I was determined to create a brand that provides effective solutions for acne. The core of my brand is to empower young people who, like me, have dealt with skin conditions.
What does Yanda Cosmetics offer, and who is your target market?
Yanda Cosmetics offers a range of skincare products carefully formulated using effective ingredients to address acne concerns and improve overall skin health. Our target market primarily includes Gen Z and young adults who are seeking a holistic approach to skincare and are passionate about promoting mental health awareness.
Can you briefly take us through the process you followed establishing your brand – from concept to launch?
My formulating journey started when I was still a teenager desperately searching for a solution for my acne. I stumbled upon DIY face masks made with everyday kitchen ingredients, but I had no luck. Fast forward to when I started university, armed with a deeper understanding of science and biology I started formulating proper skincare products that actually worked for me, and my sisters as well. I saw the potential of these products and decided to turn it into a business.
I started saving my bursary allowance until I had enough to purchase the raw ingredients and equipment I needed. The funny part is that I launched my business as a lip gloss brand first because I had zero experience in the business world, so I wanted to dip my toes into the industry with something less intimidating. This helped me to understand the market, refine my processes and gain valuable experience before bringing my skincare products to the market.
How has your background in medical science informed the development of Yanda Cosmetics?
Through my studies I gained a deep understanding of the biology of the skin and the underlying causes of various skin conditions. This helps me formulate products that target specific acne-causing mechanisms. It also helps me to critically evaluate the efficacy and safety of various ingredients.
What have been the most challenging parts of your startup journey, and the highlights?
Navigating the competitive market and establishing brand recognition has been the most challenging part. Managing all aspects of the business, from product development to supply chain while being a student has also been very demanding and leaves little to no time for a social life. My highlights have been partnering with major online retailers, being recognised in prestigious lists and of course witnessing positive feedback from customers.
How has the Yanda Cosmetics range grown since launch?
It has grown remarkably. I’m continuously perfecting our formulas and currently working on expanding the existing line to cater to more skin concerns. Moreover, the strategic retail partnerships formed have allowed me to reach a wider audience and even expand to Botswana.
What has your experience been like getting listed at retailers?
The experience has been both exhilarating and challenging. It made me realise that I still have a lot to learn. However it has widened my reach and boosted my brand's credibility. I’m now working on building connections with physical retailers, which has opened up a whole new set of challenges but I’m excited to see my products on shelves soon.
How would you like to see Yanda Cosmetics evolve over the coming years?
I see it evolving into a globally recognised skincare brand with a strong presence in the market and a loyal customer base that trusts the products, all while challenging the status quo on what beauty is and driving conversions that normalise skin conditions.
In light of Youth Month in South Africa, what advice do you have for other young budding entrepreneurs who believe they’re sitting on a good idea?
My advice is to take action and validate your idea in the real world. Don’t get stuck in the trap of overthinking or waiting for the “perfect moment”.
Finally, where can consumers shop your products?
On our online store www.yandacosmetics.co.za as well as Makro, Zando, Takealot, and on the Avo app by Nedbank, and our Botswana customers can shop on skincarealert.bw.