Over the course of 3 weeks, we worked with Brenda Mamputa, who runs a dreadlocks salon in Khayelitsha (a township in Cape Town, South Africa), to rethink her business. The brief was to come up with solutions that would help Brenda in her short term as well as long term endeavours. This was done in 3 steps : understanding her situation and aspirations, coming up with new propositions and implementing a change.
As a single mother of two, Brenda actively cared about her community and wanted to see it grow alongside her business. She believed in hairstyling as a form of art and imparted in training amongst young people who want to take it up as a living. Some of the current problems that she faced were lack of infrastructure, inconsistent branding, unstable and unsafe location, and crime.
Within one week of collaborating and learning her story, we realised that her brand was Brenda herself. Our solutions regarding branding focused on putting forth Brenda as an image that stands for its community and paves the way for others. We came up with several solutions, including some that would call for a larger engagement and would disrupt the market, making it safer and more convenient to practice and reach a wider customer base, in particular through door-to-door business.
Working with Brenda to understand her needs, we finally settled on a two step strategy: a short term solution of rebranding that included a makeover of the container where she runs her salon (both outdoors and indoors); and a longer term project to make her business more mobile, typically with opportunities to move around a pop up salon - we designed and made a branded apron to carry her tools.
All in all, this was an extremely rich experience which had us understand that small businesses in townships of Cape Town want to innovate but are restrained by basic necessities that need immediate attention. As responsible designers we have tried to cover the gamut of Brenda’s real needs. Some immediate implementations have allowed us to gain her confidence thereby broadening her perspective on future collaborations and design interventions.