When the first case of Covid-19 was reported in South Africa, nobody knew just how devastating the effect would be on people's livelihoods.
Singathwa Magxothwa was one of the many workers in the hotel industry who was affected by business closures.
Unemployed and a single mother of two children, she had to make a plan to put food on the table and continue doing the job she'd fallen in love with.
Singathwa, or Nana as she's affectionally known, tells Drum how losing her job at one of Cape Town's most prestigious hotels encouraged her to embark on an entrepreneurial venture and start her very own spa.
Nana is originally from a small village just outside Queenstown, Eastern Cape.
"I moved from the Eastern Cape at a very young age and attended some of my high school years in the Mother City.
"As I was growing up, I really wanted to be a nurse. My mother shared those wishes because she knew I loved using my hands," she says.
"At the age of 19, I lost my mother and that dream died along with her. I could no longer pursue nursing due to financial constraints."
Nana needed to find a job fast, and one chance meeting changed her life.
"I entered beauty therapy through the kindness of Yolanda Mamacos, the CEO of South Africa Beauty Academy. I had gone to meet her for a job as a domestic worker and, on seeing me, Mrs Mamacos said I was too young to work as a domestic worker and offered to take me to school," she recalls.
The good Samaritan enrolled her in the academy and paid for her tuition for the three-year course. And so Nana fell in love with message therapy.
"Mrs Mamacos introduced me to beauty industry and I will forever be grateful for her kindness. At first, I didn’t even know what it was all about, but I think I fell in love with massage because of my love of nursing – in this job you also work with and heal the body."
After her studies, Nana worked at numerous hotels and finally ended up at Cape Town's Mount Nelson Hotel at the beginning of lockdown.
"Even in the early stages of lockdown, I was conspiring as to what I could do to take care of my sons and also to make them proud, and that was when the idea of opening Kuhle Spa came to me," Nana says.
"Even though it was always a dream of mine, it wasn't something I had necessarily budgeted for. But I knew that there was no better time to do this, so I sought out a space I could rent."
The spa, which is in Gardens, began trading earlier this month and specialises in Swedish massages, aromatherapy and reflexology. Just R300 can secure you a 30-minute aromatherapy message, with a 90-minute session priced at R650.
"I love the healing abilities behind massages and I knew then that I would be able to pour myself and my efforts into this business idea.
"I love my job, I love what I am doing, and when I am working I can almost sense where my client's tension is. This is how I know that this is where my path was always going to lead me," Nana says.
This bold move has not been without its challenges, but Nana believes that when you do something out of love and commitment, it's bound to work out.
"It hasn’t been easy to get clients and cashflow, as I had expected, but I have faith that this will happen and I know this path will have to be one filled with a lot of patience
"This experience is making me strong day by day because I know that it's not easy to start something of your own. I couldn’t wait around until the hotel industry picked up again and I could not sit on my hands when God gave them to me to be used.
"Kuhle means beauty or beautiful things. So, even in the naming of my spa, I knew that with the challenges there would be good things on the horizon as well."
Nana believes more awareness of the health benefits of massage therapy is needed and it should be accessible to everyone.
"This is not only for one particular race or rich people – it's for us too. Education on this is important so we can benefit not only in the name of beauty, but also for the sake of our health.
"Through my work, I hope to educate as many people as possible and heal just as many," she adds.
To find out more, visit Kuhle Spa on social media.
- Heal injuries If you experience an injury or joint pain, you’ll also have what are called soft-tissue restrictions. Those restrictions can, over time, lead to problems like joint decay or other ligament problems. By actively massaging out those soft-tissue restrictions, you’re not only helping your current injury, but also helping to prevent other problems down the road.
- Boost focus Massage is believed to relieve anxiety and help you sleep better but, strangely, it can also boost your ability to focus. That’s because your heart rate needs to be lowered for you to pay proper attention, and massage slows your nervous system, which effectively slows down your heart rate too.
- Aid certain health conditions Your body has two different immune responses – Th1 and Th2 – and they need to be in balance in order to have your immune system working optimally. During a massage, you’re slowing down stress hormones to help maintain this balance. In turn, this can help make autoimmune conditions like asthma, type 1 diabetes, or dermatitis more manageable by decreasing pain or fatigue.