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Mihlali Ndamase on the beauty industry: 'I was asked how I'd make money off of it'

Influencer Mihlali Ndamase.
Influencer Mihlali Ndamase.
Image: Instagram/Mihlali Ndamase

Beauty and lifestyle vlogger Mihlali Ndamase told Radio 702 that when she first wanted to enter the beauty industry, she was discouraged by people who thought it was not a sustainable career path.

She said at the time that there was a lot of stigma about women who were into beauty, as they were considered “airheads” who only traded on their looks. “I remember during a prayer meeting in church, we asked each other what we wanted to become and I said I want to be a beautician, and everyone asked how I'd make money out of that. It's something I struggled with till I was in matric.”

Mihlali said creators were now getting the recognition they deserved.

“We contribute a huge chunk to the marketing and branding industry. Now we're getting a bit more respect. Maybe it's because of the brand affiliations and the opportunities that people see us getting, but before then, honestly, there was no respect for people who were content creators and influencers.”

Her passion for beauty saw her watch beauty channels on YouTube as a Grade 9 pupil at St John's Diocesan School for Girls in KZN, where she drew inspiration from the likes of Michelle Phan and Nicole Guerriero.

Mihlali has always been an entrepreneur at heart. In high school, she sold jewellery to her peers, having been inspired by her grandmother and mother.

“I was also inspired by my mother because she is a creative. I think she is the only creative in my family. She studied fashion designing and she did a business course. She had her own clothing line and bridal store.”

Mihlali's influence and success are evident. She has 173,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel, with UK-based media house Hopper HQ naming her one of the most-paid beauty influencers, bagging R25,000 per Instagram post.

She told Sunday Times that seeing her name on the list proved that her hard work was worth the effort.

“It’s a reminder that I have come far and I can definitely get further. To be recognised among international stars isn’t child’s play, it truly is a blessing.”