Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
7 minute read
19 Aug 2020
10:02 am

Four people who turned their side hustle into successful businesses

Sandisiwe Mbhele

From side-hustle to full-time businesses, here's how people are making the most of the pandemic.

Omphile M founder of Baked Opy. Photo: Supplied

The unforeseeable changes in business and the performance of the economy was not expected for 2020. This was supposed to be the year for growth.

The Covid-19 pandemic has demolished many businesses who were just finding their feet, including the established ones.

In a country with a high unemployment rate, with graduates sitting at home, there is a massive need or push for entrepreneurship. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and these hustlers have done so in uncharted waters.

Baked By Opy

A former IT specialist Omphile Magasa was working in corporate for a few years when the unlikely passion of baking started in 2016.

Omphile Magasa founder of Baked By Opy. Photo: Supplied

Even though her family were bakers, the skill only developed much later for her.

After she baked her daughter’s first birthday cake in 2015, her friends wanted her to bake cakes for them but it took some convincing. Even though her grandmother is a great baker, the former IT specialist is self-taught using social media and YouTube to her full advantage.

“I thought baking was not for me, a friend said she believed in me. I thought wow, she believes in me more than myself. I started baking small cakes and biscuits after that.”

She started Baked By Opy in 2016 and later resigned from her job two years later, deciding not to renew her contract.

“It was never easy, a lot of sleepiness nights, a lot of cake eating, even eating cake for breakfast. I was not coping, thankfully my partner was supportive.”

Word of mouth and the absolute stunning bakes posted on her Instagram soon created a loyal client base with much of their success during the lockdown.

Amazing basketball-inspired Baked Opy creation. Photo: Supplied


Loungewear is the go-to outfit to do anything these days and Mikaya founded by Monica Harris took complete advantage of this trend during the lockdown. Mikaya named after her two grandchildren Mia and Kaya.

Retiring late in 2019 and moving to Johannesburg from KwaZulu-Natal, the mother of two daughters wanted to start something for herself and her family.

“Initially I was interested in doing a bean bag business but you know Covid-19 hit and I thought people weren’t going to buy that. We changed the business model to loungewear. It made sense, we were all sitting at home and wanted to wear something comfortable but you could also wear out to grab a few essentials.”

Monica Harris in a grey lounge set by Mikaya products. Photo: Supplied

The pricing for the luxury lounge sets is among the most affordable you would find, starting at only R300.

Harris is supporting local suppliers too, as this means a lot to her. All the suppliers who make her products are local.

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Ladies fleece Pjy’s| Colour: Taupe

A post shared by Mikaya (@mikaya_products) on

“So many people being unemployed due to the lockdown that was one of the reasons for the pricing. I picked suppliers who were willing or prepared to lower their prices. But they too wanted to remain running as a business and keep their jobs.”


It is no secret that the restaurant industry is still trying to get its feet up after a brutal couple of months and the popular local chef is doing something about it.

Thabang Monty Denalane is a trained and accomplished chef who has worked in many restaurants across the world and at one point being an ambassador in South Africa for Walt Disney.

Fast forward to being a manager for popular nightclub Moloko in Pretoria before and during his occupation he founded multiple businesses such as a versatile chef service company  KOLEntertainment in 2010.

Thabang Monty Delanne is a manager at Moloko club in Pretoria and co-founder of Move into action. Photo: Supplied

Monty has been in the hustle for some time.

Knowing his experience he partnered with Fairbridge Mitchell to co-found Move into action bridging industries and small companies by giving young and unexperienced chefs opportunities.

“I know what’s it’s like to be a black chef in South Africa, it is tough, you not given a lot of opportunities.”

He is teaming up with a group of chefs to create employment solution for culinary artists or chefs through job placing at events, restaurants, bars, clubs, office canteens and private homes to cater for your needs. In turn, helping people at home and in the office to meet their specific diet needs.

Having built a repertoire for years his using those connections to help chefs get experience and into restaurants.

“I have the access, I know a lot of chefs. It really bites that these chefs are sitting home, they need the experience. What MoveIntoAction does is teach them about the business of being a chef.”

Bridging the business or industry comes into play where a chef is challenged to come up with a dish of what makes a successful professional, such as an accountant. The shooting of the show has started and will be published on their social media pages.

Monty said the lockdown had been hard on the nightclub industry, saying he was focusing on this now because he had the time.

“There has to be a side hustle to help people in the industry. Working alone is not advisable at the moment, partnerships now make more sense than ever.”

He said the pandemic had brought out the best in him.

“I am doing more.”

Petronella Mphalele was in the media industry as a writer for six years, and at just 29 she decided that she had retained enough experience and knowledge to start her own business.

Petronella Mphalele founder of Photo: Supplied

She started an online store when the lockdown had just started, They are an online distribution channel that helps digitally market vendors.

“They get to sell, publish on the store and what we do is branding and marketing. They pay a minimal marketing fee of R100.”

The site is open to small vendors such as those who sell their products at the comfort of their home, from having their own skincare line to making water bottles.

It is a great space for vendors looking for a platform that helps them with the content on social media, branding and marketing but want to take it to the next level.

This sounds all good on paper but Mphalele said they had to do some convincing for vendors.

“We are trying to convince people that they need an integrated business line. Teaching entrepreneurs for the digital space, the pandemic has highlighted that you need to go digital. Educate a business owner to trust digital and use it for the future. It’s digital or die.”

The online store currently has over 100 vendors (businesses) and she has hired six interns from Pearson Colleague who are in their final year of studies.

Mphalele wants to give a platform for the women who grew up selling avocados, scones, etc on the streets.

“I want to see women who sell these on my page so you can order from them. I want to help those kinds of people. Digital is for everyone, I want to give them the platform and opportunity.”

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Sandisiwe (Sandi) is a lifestyle and current affairs liker of things. Always aiming to inform readers of the best content there is and producing content that mirrors her interests and opinions. She enjoys frequent luncheons, wants to see more of the world, sit courtside at Wimbledon, and cause a digital storm one day.