In another year of great symbolism in South Africa, 1994, the year Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
Vusi was 19 years old and started styling hair of his friends and neighbors in the backyard of his parents modest Soweto home.
His mother helped him by heating the water on a stove in the house and carrying the buckets of hot water to him in the backyard so he could shampoo and rinse his clients’ hair.
Soon he became known as an amazing hairdresser, and people started coming from greater distances and faraway townships to have their hair straightened, pressed, cut, and styled by Vusi Makate.
He continued to work in the garage for another six years or so, until roughly 2005 when problems in his local community made it impossible to continue to operate the salon.
At that time, Vusi took the next step towards his dream, and took on a job as a top stylist in one of the fancy hair salons catering to black patrons in Sandton City.
There he expanded his clientele to include a large number of top executives. He also landed a contract with South African Broadcasting Corporation to do the hair for the actresses on several of their television shows.
For many people, this level of success would be enough, especially given the modest circumstances under which Vusi started his styling career.
In 2012, Vusi became the sole proprietor of Sandton Hair, where he employs 17 staff and has expanded the previously all white customer base to include many of the top professional and celebrity clients he acquired over the last many years.
Sandton Hair is one of only a handful of black owned shops in Sandton City, and Vusi is expanding the business by adding services and expanding his marketing reach.
Customers of the salon look like a poster for the rainbow nation, ranging from older white males, to young African children, to top black women executives.
Being located in Sandton City, Vusi now routinely does the hair for divas visiting from the US, Europe and Latin America.
It’s been quite a journey from carrying buckets of hot water to a Soweto backyard, to the glitz and glamour, glass and marble, of Sandton City.