Spa owner is dedicated to total beauty
THE moment you enter Inner Sanctum Day Spa and Salon, owned by former beauty editor Ayanda Bikitsha, you can tell it was created by a beauty junkie who put her years of spa-going to good use.
But Bikitsha, 39, says her knowledge of the beauty industry, coupled with her experience, contributed only a small percentage to her successful running of a spa.
She nevertheless credits the experience of having worked for magazines for providing her with the opportunity to test and try many different cosmetics.
"My beauty knowledge helps in that clients feel reassured that I have beauty knowledge, but running a spa demands much more than that. The important aspects of running a spa include studying your target market and meeting their expectations."
She says her knowledge of the industry helps her in that she can answer clients' questions and address their beauty concerns, but says most of her clients come to the spa to relax and to be pampered.
After years of working in magazines, the married mother of two, who holds a national diploma in beauty technology from the Technikon Witwatersrand, stepped out of her comfort zone by leaving her cushy job to open Inner Sanctum Day Spa and Salon in Northlands Decopark, Northriding.
But what encouraged this married mother to take such a courageous step?
"Being a beauty editor had its perks, but at times I found it challenging as I had never studied journalism, so writing was a challenge for me. I have always wanted to run a spa, hence having done a course in beauty technology. My passion has always been in the service industry. I always felt like I didn't belong in the media industry," she says.
Running her own beauty spa has been hard work. She worked for a leading department store as beauty consultant, as a sales representative for various cosmetic companies and worked as a beauty therapist.
Bikitsha was introduced to the world of glamour when she worked as a fashion and beauty assistant at Drum magazine.
"By the time I left Drum, I wasbeauty editor. I then joined Soul magazine as fashion and beauty editor. After a short stint at Soul, I moved to True Love magazine, where I was beauty editor for five years."
Bikitsha does not regret leaving her job as she feels there was no room for growth in the media industry. Within a short space of time Bikitsha boasts a sizeable and committed clientele.
"I must admit, the job of a beauty editor is very exciting, but I felt it was time for me to move on and follow my passion. I have only been running a spa for a couple of months now and I find it highly fulfilling. I love being in the service industry, and I find working in a spa so rewarding when I see clients walking away totally satisfied with our service.
"The journey has its challenges, and at times I feel discouraged, but it is totally fulfilling," says Bikitsha, whose spa is frequented by middle-upper class women (and men) who work or live in the area.
There are many spas in and around Johannesburg - so what makes this one special?
"Most spas don't offer hair salon and nail services. We pride ourselves in being a one-stop shop," she says.
"We offer all our spa and hair salon clients a complimentary foot scrub and foot massage. Our services range from massages to facials, to manicures, pedicures, nails, waxing, tinting, men's grooming, hair, including ethnic and Caucasian."
"Our main challenge is convincing people that spa services are necessary to improve overall well-being and grooming. Another challenge is making your spa stand out as there are so many other spas.
"Keeping your clients satisfied is another challenge," she adds.
Bikitsha says the plan is to franchise the business and expand it nationwide.
For those who aspire to owning their own spa, Bikitsha has this advice: "Follow your passion, persevere and, remember, hard work always pays off. Also, do research constantly to keep up to date with industry trends. Never think you have enough knowledge - keep learning!"