Thandi Gama coining it with her beauty range on YouTube
Prior to the democratisation of work opportunities in SA, very few youths were afforded a chance to pursue their dreams.
However, more young South Africans like Mihlali Ndamase, Lasizwe Dambuza and Dr Sivu Madikana are blessed with opportunities for any and almost every career under the sun, which is why 27-year-old YouTuber Thandi Gama opted to leave her career in a corporate world to pave her own way one YouTube viewer at a time.
"When I matriculated 10 years ago, I would never have guessed that I would be a YouTube content creator."
Raised in Berea, Johannesburg, Gama's childhood was one focused on education.
While she has come to gain notoriety as a vlogger, she did not always know where her life would take her as a young woman jumping around different courses as a student to find herself.
While working as a hostess at a restaurant in Sandton to fund her studies, Gama was often praised for her stellar makeup - a knack she picked up from watching other YouTube content creators, as she could not afford the make-up courses available at the time.
After much coercion and a stint in doing make-up professionally, Gama plucked up enough courage to start her own YouTube page in 2016.
"I took my time to understand that if I do this fulltime what do I need to prepare?" says Gama, who looked into registering her page as a business and handling her finances.
"It's not easy because it's not every day you get a yes or approach a client and share your ideas. A lot of people are very strict that if they're following a very specific content plan they're not going to buy into what you're selling them.
"Another thing people need to understand is that when you get a huge payout from a gig, it's not certain you're going to get work in the next following months. In the beginning, it was quite scary for people to keep saying no and not understanding what I was trying to offer them, and I got to a point where I wanted to take up the offers to go back to work."
While she may have hit walls multiple times, Gama has started coining it on her growing influence through her beauty range Lash Me Baby, which offers natural-sized South African-made falsies including ranges for people who wear glasses. Gama has also made plans to introduce more styles to the range following the increased demand during the lockdown period.
While the internet has opened up avenues for more young black South Africans like Gama to capitalise on their talents, the pressure to go viral or gain a huge following can be demanding, which is why she stresses that it can often create a failure for many.
"When you create content and it goes viral, it's usually not in line with what you do and you end up with so many followers and you don't have a niche or selling point. So when a brand comes to you and you prove your return of investment with those numbers, you aren't able to sell because they were just there for the stuff that made you go viral.
"It's important to build a community and I have been able to do that by turning my numbers into clients for my lash business."
Gama's Lash Me Baby is available for online purchase and episodes of her tutorials can be found on YouTube.
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