Colour me venture
WATCHING HER GO about her business in a characteristically methodical and deliberate way, few would imagine the major sacrifices that have brought D’borah Blenman here.
Where exactly? Owning beauty salons in Barbados and Boston.
D’borah is the owner of Zotbelle Inc., which has recently opened a salon on the South Coast after operating in two previous locations, and Kryolan City Boston, which she launched last December with the world-renowned Kryolan franchise.
But lest one is dazzled by the outward glamour that such a business naturally exudes, D’borah would be the first to point out that beauty is not only “skin deep” and that for her, enhancing beauty as a profession was a road with many an ugly turn.
After starting Zotbelle (eye on beauty) salon in Belleville some 17 years ago, an ambitious D’borah realised things were on such a progressive flow that expansion would be the next obvious step.
“I moved to Amaryllis Hotel. After this move I couldn’t afford both the home and business so after much prayer, I gave up the home I rented and kept the business. And for nine months I had nowhere to call home,” she recalled.
But the God whom she had served from childhood, and occasionally strayed far from, had other plans: to teach her the lesson of total reliance on Him.
“God provided for me through friends and strangers,” she said. “During the nine months, God just opened doors for me and I either rented a room at someone’s house or a friend would have allowed me to use a space that was vacant in their home.
“On two occasions people offered to have me keep their houses because they were travelling for a length of time. In one instance it was a family which was going away for six weeks and had this huge house in Maynards, St Peter. I stayed at their home and when they returned, I was packed up and ready to go, and in that moment, I did not know where I was going.
“I was pretty much prepared to sleep at the salon or in the car, and they said to me that I had done such a good job keeping their house that their friends wanted to know if I would stay in their home as well because they too, were about to travel.”
The second house – another massive structure – was in St Silas Heights, and not only did she keep it in immaculate condition but by the time the owners returned, “God had blessed me enough that I was then able to have enough money to rent an apartment”.
Strengthened by this and subsequent challenges, some of which had nothing to do with Zotbelle, Blenman promised to serve God for the rest of her life.
“God honoured my request and today I serve Him, not because of the business, but because of all He has done in my life,” said the entrepreneur, who is in her mid-30s and reaching frontiers that were little more than the stuff of childhood dreams.
Having been drawn to the magic of make-up as a teenager, Blenman started to work with her cousin who owned a beauty salon and then went on to be trained at Scissors International School of Cosmetology before joining Jan Gittens, whom she described as “the best employer I’ve ever had”.
“I think a lot of my care for the customer came from her, my love for the customer,” she added.
Going on from there to work at the salon of Algernon Barker, she learnt more about the elements of customer service.
At a personal level, friends and family have supported her, but few have stayed by her side.
“On this journey, I would’ve lost some friends but I still acknowledge them because they would’ve served a purpose in my life at that time. I acknowledge and honour them. But when you set out on a journey, everybody cannot go with you. Some people can only go so far, and it’s no fault of theirs because they may not have the capacity to keep up and they may become a burden.”
“Even coming here to a new location in Worthing and opening a salon in Boston, I’ve lost more friends. It’s like the higher you go, more people drop off. And then there are others who will come for a season and then go; but everybody is serving their purpose and I honour each and every one one of them.
“Of course there are some, a few, who have been with me from the beginning and are still with me.”
Today, her company Zotbelle Inc. owns the 43rd Kryolan store in the world, featuring the signature Kryolan brand which has catered to television, film and special effects make-up artistry for over six decades and is the official make-up of Miss Universe and America’s Next Top Model.
Launching Kryolan City Boston was, in her words, “a leap of faith” after she had discussed the venture with the Berlin-based chief executive officer of Kryolan and “followed the path of obedience to God” that led her to Boston, Massachusetts.
With plans for another Zotbelle-owned Kryolan store in New England, D’borah’s path, dotted with a few failed efforts, has inspired budding entrepreneurs in the beauty field as well. She has taught at the National Training Board, at her own salon, and in the Caribbean, at times inspiring others to launch their own ventures or, generally, to press on in life.
“People hearing about or seeing my journey would say to me that I‘ve inspired them in some way, whether in their personal lives or in some area where they were about to give up,” she added.
And, she is quick to add, her salon is more than a place of business, it is a ministry.
“When clients come in, they would find music that is relaxing and stuff but we don’t beat them with a Bible, it’s not about that.
“As I share my challenges and experiences and my focus to look to God and press on, I’m expecting that when people read about my journey, whatever they’re going through, they can learn from it and press on as well, regardless of what they’re facing,” she said.
“Because the Word tells us that God’s goodness brings repentance, leads us to repentance. So when you see the goodness of God upon my life, it should bring you to a place to desire it and then turn to Him.”