“I plugged in my business brain when the Sukuma Fund money came in – so no more watching Netflix in my pyjamas!” For Lyndall Jackson, who has owned her own skincare and nail salon for almost 12 years, the Sukuma Fund not only saved her business, but was the impetus for expanding it by opening up an online income stream.
Calmer Health & Skincare is usually a one-woman show, except for the times when Jackson takes in and mentors students. “I love to mentor and it’s not easy to find a place to gain experience in the beauty industry,” she says. “But when they are ready, I let them go to do their own thing.” The upside of this approach was that Jackson did not have employee salaries to worry about, but many other concerns kept her awake.
A rigid landlord who would not budge on the lease conditions, meant that her premises in an office building in Randpark Ridge, Johannesburg, was the first casualty of lockdown. Jackson accepted her mother’s offer to move her salon into a room in her mother’s house, but she really did not want to move her and her eight-year-old son back home too. Once lockdown had closed her business, Jackson and her son had long discussions around managing their budget. “He’s a clever boy and he knew that I was unable to earn anything,” she says.
Jackson’s accountant and friend informed her that she was going to apply to The Sukuma Fund on Jackson’s behalf. “Thanks to her, my application was in before I saw on Facebook that the applications were open!” Nothing happened for a while until, one evening while Jackson was cooking supper, she received an SMS. At first glance it seemed to be just another hoax. “You wouldn’t believe how much nonsense and scam messages I have received since lockdown started.” This message from the bank looked legit enough to convince Jackson to log into her bank account and there it was: The Sukuma Fund grant.
“I was overwhelmed. I started laughing and then burst out crying – it was terrible and beautiful! It was amazing to be able to tell my son that we’d be fine, that my business will survive and that we can stay in our house.”
Having shared the news with her mother and the lifesaver accountant, Jackson decided to sleep on the good news before making any decisions. The following day she reworked her budget and decided to use the grant for more than simply surviving.
“I chose to apply for all the payment holidays I could and to use the grant to grow my business.” Jackson sourced aromatherapy massage oils, soaps, stress balls and related products and set up an online store on her salon’s website. She put together packages for special occasions, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and marketed her new offerings extensively through WhatsApp and Facebook.
“Instead of binging on Netflix series, I spent my time making product videos and recording tutorials,” Jackson says. “Soon my son joined in. It’s been really cool. The experience has put a whole different spin on lockdown for us.”
Once Jackson could start seeing clients again, she discovered that the move to a home environment was not a bad thing at all either, as many of her clients prefer the more personal and private space.
“The Sukuma Fund grant has enabled me to take my business into a different direction, and has made a huge difference to my life.”