Entrepreneur: Candice Thurston banks on right partnership for business success

Entrepreneur Candice Thurston who is the founder of salon chain Candi & Co is proof that striking the right business partnership is a key element of success. 

Four years ago, Thurston approached Ian Fuhr, the owner of the established Sorbet salon franchise with the idea of setting up a beauty facility aimed at black women.

"I had a vision, and put together a kick-ass presentation for my business idea, and Ian loved it," said Thurston.

Today, Candi & Co is part of the Sobert Group which comprises of Sorbet Salons, Sorbet Man, Sorbet Dry Bar salon. “I came with a specific skills set and Sorbet provided franchise expertise. I think the combination worked really well," she said.

With eight branches around Johannesburg, Thurston says she wants Candi & Co to conquer Gauteng, which is the biggest market in term of  economic power, before expanding to other provinces.

"I am confident that we are on the right track," she said.

The Candi & Co brand have carved a niche for itself in the hair and beauty salon industry for the women of colour, offering a range professional hair and beauty services.

"My aim is to revolutionize the hair business for women of colour and the beauty industry, and I am completely confident that we are absolutely doing that,” said Thurston. 

READ: Why most start-ups fail

The 36-year-old Thurston said the combination of her corporate experience in the personal care as well as Sorbet’s expertise  in franchising gave Candi & Co the edge. The chain currently has eight women-owned franchise outlets across Johannesburg and generates between R25m and R30m a year in revenue, in an industry that has shown resilience to the prevailing tough economic environment. 

With a business ethos where customers are referred to as “guests” and staff members  known as “citizens”,  Candi & Co aims to open 50 stores across the country by 2025.

Thurston's 5 tips to build a sustainable business:

Be involved

You have to keep a close eye on operations, I am also the area manager for the business and often do spot checks at salon.It is also important to have a good understanding of the financial side of operations and be able to read the income statements. Entrepreneurship is not the easy way out, you have to work hard everyday.

Find the right partner

I think partnerships are key in any business. If you manage to find the right partner, they will be able to help you to exponentially grow your brand.

Understand the consumer

Consumers are the main drivers of the business. Therefore, it is important to understand their expectations and keep on evolving to meet their changing needs.  Competitors can copy your model but they can never copy a culture of the business, the experience and service. You must not give your customers a reason to choose a competitor over you.

Be patient

The biggest mistake that entrepreneurs often make is expecting to break even too quick. You must understand that sometimes the rewards do not come immediately, especially in the first few years. The same applies while you search for funding for the business, in many cases people knock on hundreds of door before getting someone who will say “I’ll think about it”. Be patient.

Embrace innovation

Innovation is key to business success. Keep up with global trends always do something new in the space that you operate in. Services such as loyalty programmes and partnerships with social influencers are some of the current innovation methods for attracting customers.