Thapelo Mokoena on his latest business venture: ‘I’m on a journey of success’

Serial entrepreneur Thapelo Mokoena. Picture: Katlego Mokubyane

Serial entrepreneur Thapelo Mokoena. Picture: Katlego Mokubyane

Published Feb 3, 2023


He’s a renowned film-maker, successful restauranteur and wine aficionado, and now serial entrepreneur Thapelo Mokoena introduces yet another exciting offering to his bespoke list of products under his repertoire with the launch of Bakoena Beard Care.

The home-grown male grooming solution is available in an assortment of products ranging from hand-blended beard oils, beard wash and beard butter, providing an innovative addition to Africa’s beauty and grooming landscape.

We caught up with the businessman to find out more about his views on success, the process of building his business and the product itself.

Serial entrepreneur Thapelo Mokoena. Picture: Katlego Mokubyane

“I think the secret to success is not feeling successful. Not feeling like you’ve succeeded. Because I think I’m far from that,” says Mokoena on the secret to his success.

“I’m building, constructing, developing and creating. I’m on a journey of success. Am I on a journey that can produce success? I think so. That’s what I set out to do but it begins with a journey. I’m far from feeling successful but I’m achieving. I’m grateful for the achievements and the growth.”

We asked the actor for advice on how to start a new business.

He starts out by saying, “Focus on the actual operation of your business.

“You can do a lot of things but you have to create systems and a foundation base that can help you produce the results you want to produce.

“Otherwise, you could be in a situation where you have great ideas, plans, visions and dreams but have zero articulation or zero expression for execution. So you immediately have to understand your operation and the ins and outs of your business. Know what it takes to do what.

“For me, my focus is how I take care of the customer and give them a seamless and painless experience and ultimately, the cherry on top, a great product.”

To fulfil his vision, Mokoena reached out to award-winning aesthetician and somatologist Jared Hines.

Hines, who owns Hines and Harley, a male grooming parlour, has over 17 years of experience specialising in skin care and aromatherapy. It was Hine’s expertise in hair and skin that made him the perfect partner to help bring Mokoena’s brainchild to life.

“This partnership with Thapelo has been years in the making. We share a great deal of passion for creating products and work that resonates with Africans, while still appealing to the rest of the world. Working with him to create this range has been such a fulfilling experience because, from the very beginning, we were very clear on our goal, which is to give men products that will make them carry their beards with pride.

“When we started, Thapelo was struggling with eczema and the products we were able to create helped him take care of his skin and beard without causing any irritation. As such, Bakoena Beard Care also caters to people with sensitive skin and we’re really excited to introduce this range to the market because it will completely transform self-care for men.” Hines said.

Mokoena adds that the average man who carries a man crown, his beard, has no direction for its upkeep and he felt like he had landed on this sacred beautiful organic, natural formula with what they’ve created.

We asked Mokoena about the sustainability of the product.

“The range is absolutely sustainable. Sustainability is the language and tone for the future. We a definitely big on sustainability. We are big on tapping deeper into nature, to answer some of the challenges that we face in our health and our wellness.”

The brand currently has two variants“ Maseru Sky, which is is rich in natural herbs like aloe, ginger, orange and wormwood (lengana), and Mgazini Mountain, which contains sage (imphepho), black pepper and oud.

“To be able to wake up and have those scents, no chemicals, really goes a long way. Those scents kick-start your day when you wash your face and beard in the morning.”

Besides the oud, which is sourced internationally, all their ingredients are sourced locally.

“We have our trusted suppliers, and our oils and natural ingredients are all from the best sources. We always want to be able to stand for quality. As an African products company, we want to represent quality products and bring them to you at the best prices that we can,” says Mokoena.

When it comes to the production process, he describes it as “intense”.

The product went through many phases and changes in design and packing over the years. What’s in stores right now is the sixth sample.

“Systems inform a business. You have to build these systems. I did most of this myself when I was starting out, when I wanted to figure out the processes.”

“As they say, the best bosses have to wear the overalls at some point. This way you have a clean understanding of the ins and outs of your business. I really walked the journey. Now it’s time to build a team that’s going to execute the blueprint and the plan. This is the beauty of what we are doing when it comes to building businesses.

“Now my focus becomes how do I grow the business and how do I grow the experience for the customer.”

Mokoena offers the following tips on how to grow a beard.

“Take care of it. Wash it. Take care of the skin your beard grows on. Understand the difference between the beard on your face and the skin on your face and how you can contribute to them separately but achieve great results.”