Pretty Kubyane: Building a Direct-to-Consumer eCommerce platform for the Beauty Industry
"Iconique is a direct-to-consumer [DTC] eCommerce platform that provides quality human hair extensions, haircare products & beauty services on demand. In short, we enable established manufacturers to sell their quality products directly to consumers."
Pretty Kubyane co-Founder of Iconique eCommerce
Q1:Tell us about your yourself:
My business experiences date back to my days in the village, where from the age of 6 I worked in my family's business. My father owned a car repair workshop and wood cutting businesses. Prior to co-founding Coronet Blockchain in 2019, I worked within management consulting, specialising in access to new markets.
Key highlights include scaling a new business from 500 USD to 2 million USD within 36 months. We then received two funding tranches from a US multinational, to build Coronet, a tailored blockchain enabled supply chain solution to disrupt Africa’s supply chains. Which also led to the Founding of Iconique eCommerce
Q2:What does your company do?:
Iconique is a direct-to-consumer [DTC] eCommerce platform that provides quality human hair extensions, haircare products & beauty services on demand. In short, we enable established manufacturers to sell their quality products directly to consumers.
Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:
My co-Founder Shadrack Kubyane and I have just finished building a supply chain marketplace which is powered by blockchain technology. It was during a supply onboarding process which required manufacturers to secure market validation from end users who have used their products.
so we teamed up with a couple of manufacturers to create an eCommerce platform that enables consumers to buy directly from manufacturers. It was an incredible success especially on the demand side. So we partnered with over 1200 independent beauticians across South Africa to also deliver service on demand.
Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:
Our DTC platform provides 3 things:
We enable global manufacturers of quality human hair to sell their products direct to consumers at lower prices
We enable locally manufacturers to sell their hair aftercare products directly to consumers.
Beauty home treatments: Verified, experienced beauticians for on-demand home/office services and in store salons services.
Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:
Further to having limited financial resources which is very common for African female startup Founders. We also had a lot of trial and error when it came to securing ethical suppliers. Fortunately for the Iconique brand the blockchain based solution whose specialty is product quality management and working with a network of vetted manufacturers.
Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:
I now know to focus on fewer things and do them really well, instead of having your energy or resources diluted.
My previous experience as a management consultant gave me a diverse experience across industries. It made it easy for me to grasp concepts and be able to work in many industries. This can be a blessing and a distraction as it can be hard to focus.
One of my mentors calls it opportunity distraction, when good things that are not aligned to your current priorities are presented to you.
Q7: What are your 3 priorities right now:
Our biggest priorities right now include:
Monetising our eCommerce platform
Reach a user base of 10 000 within the next 12 months
Adding more brands & creating consistent value for our partners.
Q8: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:
In the next 3 years we want to achieve the following:
We plan to reach at least 1 million sales
Reach a network of at least 50 000 beauticians & retail partners
Introduce a holistic range of beauty products across hair & skincare.
Q9: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:
Doing business in Africa can be very hard, there are a lot of things that are going wrong. But focus on what you can control, like building your personal brand, creating great customer service that sets you apart from the rest. Build a business that will thrive despite what happens beyond what you can control.
Shadrack Kubyane CEO Coronet Blockchain
The most popular phrase of the work from home Covid years is widely accepted as "you are on mute". Other phrases we began using daily, without thinking twice about it, include this one: "I might receive a delivery during this [video] meeting..."
This particular term is among the key indications of how prolific the rising eCommerce market is, surfing the Covid-triggered wave of hyper digitisation. Groceries on our doorstep, clothing, accessories, furniture, etc: you name it, can all be ordered from around the world or from around the corner, through a few clicks on one's phone or computer.
Within that same eCommerce landscape, is the agile rise of the Direct To Consumer (DTC) market, which is normalising a consumer preference across the globe, with certain regions in Africa beginning to align to that demand rise. Consumers continue to spend less time in brick-and-mortar shops and more time on their devices: where only 17% of sales were from online purchases pre-Covid years, e-commerce will account for 23% of global retail sales by 2024 and sales will hit $7.3trn by 2025.
Navigating two terrains she knows quite well, wearing the hat of a beauty consumer and Tech founder, Pretty and our team, were able to naturally converge these two worlds together. She and our Iconique team are leveraging their intimate knowledge of these two domains, whilst simplifying the consumer experience. I am privileged to maintain a front-row seat on Iconique's continuing unfolding rise, and realisation of bold milestones ahead.
Abigayle Marks Cloud Architect & Blockchain Analyst
Wow! Pretty is an incredibly powerful and inventive leader in the blockchain and African start-up sectors. She prides herself in creating a world where blockchain is used for social good, and she is doing it! She is improving the value of African businesses from being ordinary to extraordinary. Her approach to building relationships with communities and finding top talent, influencers, and partners is unparalleled. She is making waves of change by disrupting Africa's market & supply chain.
As a board members, together we are building the Africa we want! Through Coronet48, her start-up platform, we are on a mission to feature 1000 start-ups, their founders & impact in 2022-2023. The exposure these African start-ups receive directly impacts their success and viewership. Last year, media features across Coronet48 reached over 5 million people! Talk about exposure! Through mentorship and endorsements, these start-ups are propelled to greater heights.
Pretty and her husband, Shadrack, are Co-founders of Coronet Blockchain. Pretty and I once had a Zoom call where we got on the topic of the Metaverse and the future of emerging technology. Her husband overheard and jumped on the call to join the excitement. Loved that. I instantly could tell that they were a perfect team. Yin and Yang. I said that Pretty is the private key and Shadrack is the public key, which are integral components of cryptocurrencies built on blockchain networks. A true team.
I'm happy to be working alongside such an influential leader who is walking the walk of change with proven results that have supercharged countless African start-ups—propelling them to greatness! Her work is changing lives and creating a lasting impact. As they say in the crypto & blockchain space, we are all going to make it (WAGMI)! And that includes Africa! Onward and upward, Pretty!
Phumza Dyani COO Chief Marketing Officer - Pan African Network for Investment and Dev
Pretty is a Trailblazer and a well sought after global Industry Thought Leader in the Blockchain space . She is an incredibly gifted perfectionist (in a positive way) and has carved a very strategic space for the use of Blockchain in Supply Chain optimisation. She has tangible and well-earned accolades, one of which is for scaling a new business from 500 USD to 2 million USD within 36 months.
Whatever Pretty touches turn into gold. She co-founded Coronet Blockchain, an organisation that has grown multifold. I have the pleasure of working with Pretty as a Board Member of the newly formed Coronet48.
As a woman in a high-paced Tech-driven industry, I have found Pretty to be a symbol of an amazing work ethic as well as a generous, collaborative spirit that is embracing women leaders in this space.
Jo-Ann A. Hamilton Educator, Web3, Crypto & Blockchain Enthusiast , Founder- Rare Birds
My first encounter with Pretty was one I remember distinctively, she was poised, self assured and filled with intellect. She spoke passionately about her work and the development of SMEs through her venture. I remember leaving our first counter not only impressed but feeling hopeful.
As a recently appointed Board Member at Coronet I am extremely pleased and proud to be working alongside Pretty to advance the cause of entrepreneurship on the African continent. Pretty is a proven leader, capable entrepreneur and prolific organiser of resources on the continent.
She works endlessly to identify opportunities that would support the development and economic progress of ensuring that the next generation of African leaders are equipped with the tools needed to thrive. I am very excited about this new journey with Coronet and to be working with Pretty as I know it will be an opportunity for me to learn and grow as a professional.
Nicole Petyt CEO - Africa Women Enterprises
Pretty has excellent soft skill abilities, which are vital in her business of building entrepreneurship through blockchain technology. Managing to marry soft skills with a relatively new technology is a great talent, and Pretty has this in bucketsful. Soft skills are so vital when developing entrepreneurs but these skills are wildly underrated by so many at C-suite and board level.
Pretty is a great communicator, keeping her audience engaged and involved and this will ensure success at every step.
Anne Semadeni-George International Business English Teacher & Global Storyteller
"She opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness." If there's any exceptional woman who embodies this saying, then it is the incomparable Pretty Kubyane!
When meeting and working with her (even virtually on LinkedIn as I have), her husband Shadrack Kubyane is quickly drawn into these interactions. As co-founders of Coronet Blockchain & of Coronet48, their unparalleled, seamless teamwork is foundational to their combined success & service to Africa in the global marketplace.
But don't stop there! Discussions and consultations with Pretty on her own hold a potent power. This is when the wisdom of her technical and industry-specific expertise is conveyed with the 'law of kindness' I mentioned at first. What this means is that those of us first consulting her about management change or marketing & business strategy are never made to feel lacking. With her distinctive voice, which is calm and full of peace, she leads us to knowledge that we need.
In an act of great honour to me, I was invited by Mr. & Mrs. Kubyane to join the board of Coronet48. As such, I will continue to work with them both on a subject dear to my heart. And this is how to position myself to be of service in the field of economic empowerment to youth in Africa.
Pretty's personal history has positioned her to already be an expert on this very topic! From the time she was a young girl, her family ran a hybrid business, with both a car fixing workshop and an apprenticeship training program for academically challenged young boys in her village. From the many articles I have read about her, I am convinced that this generational legacy of service to the vulnerable has become a foundational value to both the Kubyanes. No trumpet blasts about it though, it is always walk the talk!
If you are a teacher or mentor to youth as I am, Pretty is an exemplary role model for them to lift their eyes to. She is committed to her personal development, with study, reading and meditating forming the strength for the multitude of tasks she competently executes daily both on a personal level & within the fields of business she has leadership in. Encourage your mentees to follow Pretty on LinkedIn, as her posts speak well of these values!
Precious Kalu LinkedIn Influencer Author, Digital Marketing Expert & avid Data Science Student
Pretty's connection with me is a blessing. She's a smart, intelligent woman who's so passionate about her work and the aim of putting a spotlight on African start-ups which have already begun.
I found Pretty as a strong leader who's on a journey to support the development of African start-ups through Coronet Blockchain, which I was recently appointed a board member. This is an opportunity for me to learn new things and grow as I contribute to the African Blockchain.
Connect with Pretty Kubyane
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About Coronet Blockchain:
Coronet Blockchain is A B2B2C Marketplace: that enables African based retailers to source quality authenticated products from vetted manufacturers at lower sourcing costs. We securely track products from Source to Customer: 100% quality requires 100% secure tracking.
Our first use case involves using blockchain to transform Africa's 7 billion USD hair extensions sector. Our focus is using blockchain across Beauty, Fashion & Agriculture supply chains & leveraging blockchain to impact Africa's supply chains.
We have created the best start-up platform, the first of it's kind in this category to offer you not just services but the very formula we used to successfully 6 figure businesses in 3 parts:
We’ve got everything you need from design, branding, eCommerce, sourcing to launch
Media feature across out platform that reached over 5 million people last year.
Mentorship and endorsements from our collective ecosystem of over 100 000 successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, funders, corporate executives etc.