Last year, we featured her as one of GTC’s Rising Stars, and it gives me great pleasure to write this follow up feature as I believe this is one star that did more than rise, it simply sparkled its way to the top of celebville and straight into our hearts. Since then, TV Host and businesswoman Ayanda Thabethe has grown her brand in an incredible way, making the swift move from BET’s A-List to SABC3’s premium lifestyle magazine show, Top Billing, which has seen her globetrotting to cover the best lifestyle news across the world.
I recently spoke to one of the most exciting faces in SA Entertainment at the moment. See our exclusive interview below:
Has it sunk in yet?
It has! I think when everything started to unravel in my entertainment life in 2016, I was still trying to take it all in and accept that this was my new way of life with its own set of rules, perks and challenges alike so it was a lot to grasp then but now in 2017, I find myself more settled, content and more focused than ever!
Please take us through the moments when you sit alone and think “Is this my life? Am I really living my dream life?”
I have those moments when I’m in a meeting speaking about an ambassadorship role I’m about to embark on, flying to Paris for a screening and meeting huge international stars or simply going to Capetown and zip lining for the day all the while interviewing a phenomenal individual and I get to call that my job! Sometimes in the midst of it all , I just let out a simple “Thank you God” in my heart. They say ” if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life”, I couldn’t agree more.
I recently listened to an interview you did with PowerFM where you mentioned your transition from Sales Rep to Brand Manager and now a Star! Have you always known you’d end up where you are today? A TV host and a brand darling.
I always knew! I’ve always craved it, longed for it and wanted it with all my might. As I was navigating all those different roles, my imagination was always wandering to entertainment and I did everything I could in whatever spare time I could find to feed that hunger and to land here but even I couldn’t have predicted that I would be so abundantly blessed in such a “short” space of time and for that, I am eternally grateful. I am very fond of the quote ”
Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon – must inevitably come to pass!” by Paul J. Meyer, I guess it’s true because I’m a living testament of that statement.
I just referred to you as a brand darling and that’s because I believe you have brands eating off the palm of your hands. What do you think has made you this attractive to brands?
I take myself, my work and my brand very seriously as if I was selling and marketing a product like back in the days of being a marketeer except now, the product is me. I treated myself as a brand before anyone referred to me or thought of me as one. I’ve also worked at the opposite end of the spectrum as a previous brand manager at an international beauty giant and have a firm understanding of what brands look out for in choosing someone that they will trust with representing their brands and I use that knowledge to my advantage. Besides that, I think brands recognize when a person is genuine, hard working, has a moral compass and is compassionate and I hope that is what they see in me because those are the attributes I try to uphold to the best of my ability. For the parts I can’t explain that leave me in awe, I just count it as God’s favor and my stars aligning the way God intended them to.
Earlier this year, you took us behind the scenes of your latest Pond’s campaign, shot in Bangkok Thailand. The campaign launched a week ago and I imagine it must have taken a lot to get to what the public has seen. Tell us about the journey.
This campaign has tested every secret holding capability within me! I was actually awarded the contract almost 2 years ago! I’ve spent the past 2 Januaries in Thailand shooting the campaign both print and TVC and I’m glad it’s finally out there for people to enjoy and for me to share this moment and campaign with them. Pond’s is dear to my heart, I grew up using the brand and because of that, I think the fit was so seamless and authentic. We are actually kicking off the festivities with a luncheon on the 15th August with selected guests and from there you should see the whole roll out plan, I’m excited!
#AyandaxPonds is such an authentic brand fit. What does this partnership mean for you you?
It means the world to me with Pond’s being a brand I’ve always used and loved from my teenage years and to advocate for it is really easy for me since I really believe in its benefits. It’s a brand that’s stood the test of time in a very volatile industry and has had the same lasting message and effects. I also love being at the forefront of a brand that advocates women feeling beautiful and confident, it doesn’t get any better than that!
This year, you also took a bold step to expand your entrepreneurial interests by launching your own hair studio, Liyanda experience. What has been the biggest lesson from this project?
LIYANDA is truly my pride and joy. I could’ve taken the capital investment which was a huge chunk of my savings and bought a luxury item I love but I believe that my life needs to mean so much more and this is the first step in that direction. LIYANDA stemmed from a desire to create a sanctuary where woman could relax , enjoy premium in salon services all the while catching up with like minded individuals in a luxurious setting. We don’t have a lot of Afro centered spaces that offer that kind of service and environment and it was important to me that I create it. With every dream however does come challenges and I think for us (my business partner , Lindelwa Nkambule and myself) – getting the right mix of staff and ensuring that they live up to our expectations has been challenging and therefore training has been the utmost important element to uphold for us in order to ensure that the standard remains high at all times.
What are your future plans for the Liyanda brand?
I want to see LIYANDA all over Africa as a franchise and I want it to be the bench mark for service, trends and overall salon experience in the Afro hair care market specifically.
We see so many personalities come into the industry but it takes a lot to build a sustainable brand. What are you doing to ensure that we get to see more of Ayanda Thabethe for years to come.
I believe in doing the best you can in every moment and opportunity awarded to you. No one can ask you for more than your best and I believe if I continue to give off my best in every place of opportunity that God has given me then I will be awarded with more opportunities for years to come to showcase what I can do and how far I can stretch myself.
You recently took us behind the scenes of yet another big brand campaign. What is the story with Mizani? What can we look forward to?
I’ve been keeping quiet about this one even though it’s out there on international platforms particularly because I believe in everything I’m involved in being presented, announced and taken care of in a special way and that’s coming soon. Expect BIG things. We are going GLOBAL!