The business of massage

The business of massage

MASERU – ONE day, some 18 years ago, Nkamoheng Mautsoe asked if she could rub her grandmother’s sore feet. Her grandmother said it soothed the pain and helped her relax.

Soon, it became a nightly routine before bed and Mautsoe would revel in her grandmother’s praises.
Little did she know that years later she would be rubbing people’s backs and feet for a living.
Mautsoe, 30, is the owner of Perfect B Spa at Victoria hotel, a small but growing business. Hers is a story of poor girl who never dreamt of owning a business.

Growing up in Roma, the future looked bleak. A plan of sorts had been set out for her. She was to drop out school and get married to one of the local boys.

She was to work the land for food.  That is what other girls had done and were doing.
Mautsoe did not see her life beyond the village. She was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay her school-fees and mostly relied on her parents for financial help.

When she was in Form A Mautsoe had to live with her grandparents after he mother died.
It was during that time that she decided she wanted to be a counsellor.

Her mother’s death had ignited in her a passion to help other people in their time of grief.
She did not want other people to go through her experience after her loss.
Yet fate had other ideas. After secondary school Mautsoe found herself studying cosmetology at Madge Wallace Beauty College in Bloemfontein.

The dream of becoming a counsellor has rescinded as she immersed herself in cosmetology.
She was fortune to be hired by one of South Africa’s famous beauty spas, Perfect 10 Silver Oaks, in Pretoria, soon after graduating in 2012.
She return home three years later with a mission to start her own spa.

By that time her dream of being a counsellor had been revived.
Mautsoe says she wanted to start a business that would take care of the body (spa) and mind (counselling). The plan, she says, was to create a counselling centre within a spa.

But only when she tried to put her ideas into action did she realise how tough it is to start a business.
She turned to those close to her for help. A close friend loaned her some money to set up a small spa in Ha-Matala, a suburb in the southern outskirts of Maseru.

Her beauty spa, Perfect B Spa, is named after the one she worked for in Pretoria.
They say you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days, so Mautsoe had to endure long days without business.
Despite her passion and the skills the business was struggling.

The problem, she later learned, was that the location was not ideal for her business.
After a few months she relocated to Victoria Hotel where her “business would be in the eyes of everybody”.
It is here that she started seeing some success, at least in summer, spring and autumn.

What about winter? Mautsoe says that Basotho don’t go to spas often and it is worse in winter.
One thing she learned “slowly and painfully is that you have to think outside the box to make a successful business in Lesotho”.
To keep the business open during winter Mautsoe started working as a makeup artist.

“I always wanted to be a counsellor from a very young age,” she says. Mautsoe puts her moderate success down to hard work, the support of those around her and the entrepreneurial spirit instilled in her by her mother.
She recalls how she would sell sweets and potato chips after school.

That was meant to bring some income into their home but it helped her appreciate the value of money.
Later her grandfather would allow to work as his small store as a shopkeeper on weekends and holidays.
Mautsoe has become a mentor to many make-up artists in Maseru.

She is offering training on make-up art, manicure and pedicure. She has so far trained staff for a local beauty spa, Phano ea Bophelo.
She has also trained staff for a spa that will be opened at Lehakoe Recreation Centre soon.

“The struggle of branding your name in this country is real,” Mautsoe says. “Changing Basotho’s mentality of Spa is also a challenge,” she says, adding that she wants to make people aware that a beauty spa “is not for rich people, it is a necessity for everyone’s health”.
Apart from training individuals, Mautsoe supports the Beauty Pageant Association of Lesotho which includes Miss Lesotho, Face of Lesotho and by sponsoring all the queens. She also supports the Ultimate Radio Music Awards.

“I do whatever it takes to make my business grow,” she says.  Mautsoe also says it is only a matter of time before she becomes a famously known skin and body therapist in Lesotho.
One of her main goals is to empower young women so they may believe in the power of their dreams.

Tebello Maine

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