Soul of Sorbet


About SEW

“The underlying philosophy of the Sorbet Group is to make a difference in people’s lives. Once we started building the brand, we wanted to give something back and created the SEW Trust which stands for Sorbet Empowering Women. SEW gives us an opportunity to do something for the community. There are so many people struggling in life and this gives them a chance to fulfil their potential – there is no greater gift in life than giving someone that opportunity.”

– Ian Fuhr, CEO

The aim of the SEW Trust is to improve the earning potential and circumstances of women in South Africa, by providing training which enables them to find employment within the beauty industry.

Sorbet Empowering Women: Two Good to be True

Sorbet Salons nationwide are raising awareness in their communities for South Africa’s less fortunate women with just one, million dollar question: “Are you willing to lend a hand for just two rand?”

In an effort to raise funds for Sorbet Empowering Women’s mission (SEW) of securing employment for 170 previously disadvantaged women by March 2018, Sorbet guests are now invited to support the upskilling journey by choosing to add just R2 to any Sorbet products or treatments.

The SEW social initiative, created in partnership with The Clothing Bank – a non-profit organisation focused on empowering unemployed mothers to social and financial independence – was established in 2014 with the aim to improve the earning potential and circumstances of previously disadvantaged women in South Africa. This birthed the SEW Academy for learners, providing aspiring individuals with the sponsored beauty skills-training and potential full-time employment they needed to become qualified nail technicians.

However, with the unpredictable economic status, SEW and social upliftment programmes alike have been faced with the wrath of climbing costs, totaling the qualification fees per SEW learner at around R25 000. This means, in order to reach their employment goal of 170 women by 2018, SEW will need to raise an overall amount of R2.9 million to make the kind of big change Sorbet is committed to championing.

“But a big change doesn’t have to mean a big ask,” explains Jade Kirkel, Marketing Manager of Sorbet Group. “For just R2 at a time, we can all add to the journey of making a difference in someone’s life,” says Kirkel.

With the heart of Sorbet beating to the sound of its ethos of “giving that feeling”, says Sorbet CEO and founder, Ian Fuhr,“Small change can create big change – and there is no greater gift in life than giving someone the opportunity to fulfill their potential. This idea of giving that feeling to our guests and our communities is an unconditional Sorbet creed, and it is what sits at the soul of Sorbet,” ends Fuhr.

In addition to SEW/Relate beaded bracelets available for sale in stores, the option to make secure donations online via the Givengain website, as well as Sorbet’s numerous fundraising events for SEW, the recently launched Sorbet “Just for Two” initiative is yet another way loyal Sorbet guests can lend a helping hand; to make a fundamental change to the lives of women, their families, their communities and their futures.

You only have to read the SEW Storytellers columns to truly appreciate the value in the jingle jangle of your small change. For real-life stories, inspiration and tales from these women that have risen to the modules and that have earned their glory as qualified and employed SEW graduates, see more about SEW at

Our goal is to empower 170 women through the Academy across Cape Town and Johannesburg into stable, permanent employment as professional nail technicians by 31 March 2018.

SEW initiatives


If you would like to help a woman fulfil her potential, here is how you can make a valuable contribution to the SEW initiative:

  • Lend a Hand for Just R2
  • Buy a beaded Relate bracelet in our salons
  • Make a secure online donation via the Givengain website
  • Support our fundraising events (to be launched in 2017)
Make a donation

We need to raise R2.9 million over the next year so every Rand helps!

The SEW Academy

The Sorbet Empowering Women (SEW) Academy is the result of a deep collaboration between Sorbet and The Clothing Bank, a social enterprise focused on up-skilling and empowering unemployed women to social and financial independence.

The Academy recruits, trains (combining technical beauty accreditations with important soft-skill interventions), mentors and coaches, and ultimately secures employment opportunities for successful graduates within the Sorbet Group.

Recruitment and Training – SEW Academy

An intensive screening process consisting of 2 full day workshops and one-on-one interviews, ensure the candidates selected for the Academy are motivated, committed and focused. These screening tools have been specifically developed for the SEW Academy and include practical problem-solving exercises, group scenario-base activities and individual life-story accounts to test for the qualities and characteristics that we believe our candidates need to be successful.

Once registered at the Academy, candidates receive accredited mani and pedi training from The Beauty Therapy Institute. In addition to the technical training, soft-skill development is provided to groom candidates to understand the behaviour, conduct, skills, thinking and approach required to thrive in a professional environment.

Workshop Topics include:

• New Beginnings – 3 day emotional readiness course • Communication skills • Organisational skills • Problem solving • Grooming • Self-Branding • CV Building • Interview skills • Budgeting • Job readiness – contracts, documentation and what to expect

We also incorporate life coaching into the training journey. The candidates receive 2 hours of coaching every second week throughout their time at the Academy.

Once all training and practical hours are complete, candidates are trade tested and offered employment within a salon. The entire journey is a 15 month commitment (including the initial 4 to 6 months of training) which enables us to further mentor our graduates during their first year of employment and meet the end goal of sustainable job creation and retention.

Our goal is to empower 170 women through the Academy across Cape Town and Johannesburg into stable, permanent employment as professional nail technicians by 31 March 2018.

SEW Stories

Bertha 1Bertha, the Beautiful.

Bertha’s smile says it all. The luminescence in her laughter, the sheer giddiness in the pitch and tone of her voice – spilling like honey in sweetness when she shares her story – tells you everything you’d need to know, even without seeing it for yourself. She’s found, and is living in, her bliss. And, as Bertha puts it, “like a miracle”, it was Sorbet that not only opened but unlocked the door to her dreams.

Her SEW (Sorbet Empowering Women) story started when she was at a friend’s home, helping her paint her nails. Passionate about beauty since Grade 10, Bertha had found the time to train herself – and learn what she could – through short courses and YouTube tutorials. When Bertha finished Matric and wanted to study Beauty professionally, it was simply an impossible desire that neither she nor her family could afford.

Her friend forwarded her information on SEW. Bertha couldn’t believe that this could be the golden ticket to the life and career she had only ever imagined.

For Bertha, beauty has always been something that has made her feel confident and special, from the inside. When she was younger, she suffered from  low self-esteem owing to being skinny, and being constantly badgered about not eating well, or being unhealthy. This ongoing judgement left Bertha often feeling embarrassed, defeated and anxious about how the world perceived her. But after her first born, with a little bit of extra weight, she had her own “a-ha” moment: “I realised: I am beautiful – just the way I am,” Bertha says.

Within her, she felt beautiful, inspired and ready to give more back to the world. She knew she could – and had a deep desire to – make other women feel beautiful too, and gain the same confidence in themselves.

Arriving at the first round of SEW registrations and interviews, and waiting among many other passionate women, Bertha experienced the extremity of two emotions- excitement and fear. “But I told myself: stop being scared. This is my opportunity. This is my time.” Turning fear into sheer joyfulness, and radiating positivity, she made it to the second and then final round, and could not have been more elated by being accepted into the SEW programme.

Yes, Bertha was going to Beauty School. And, yes, she could believe it: “I told myself, this is what I have been waiting for all along: my dream is coming true.”

Two years later, as a qualified nail and beauty therapist working at Sorbet Carlswald in Midrand, Johannesburg, Bertha says, “I’ve learned so much. All the skills I’ve learned, through all my training at SEW, has made me the woman I am today.” She lists these skills easily and with well-deserved, self-earned pride.

“I am confident, I communicate well, I am self-disciplined, I am courteous. Sorbet has groomed me so much.”

“There were days when we felt like giving up…”

She also mentions meeting so many people along the way, and highlights her communication skills and service skills as those that mean the most to her. She voices her appreciation to everyone at SEW “for believing in us and seeing our potential. There were times when it felt so personal, and there were days when we felt like giving up, but the SEW team was always there and, for that, I thank them very much.”

“Sorbet changed my life. I feel I can face the world alone now. Two years ago, I was just a young, naïve girl – now I feel I can do anything,” she adds.

Bertha feels lucky enough to have been able to complete her Nail Technician qualification at the SEW Academy. She is aware that a lot of hard work from the SEW partners and financial support from Sorbet guests is a mammoth contributing factor to her achievement.

While the SEW programme is reliant on community support, Sorbet, the Clothing Bank and SEW Academy teams are working tirelessly in the wings, at ground roots level, to deepen the foundations of skills support and emotional support, to help South African women gain the skills they require to be financially independent.

With its mission firmly set in place, SEW aims to secure the employment of 145 women by March 2018, which is a remarkable goal – and a foreseeable achievement with the added help of Sorbet’s community and guests now volunteering to purchase a SEW bracelet – or simply by adding just R2 to their treatments, as a SEW contribution.

“Beauty School is so expensive: so much so that it’s difficult for many people – including me – to afford the fees. This opportunity was like a dream come true, like a miracle, and I just want the chance to say thank you,” says Bertha.

It is women like Bertha Sibanyoni that inspire verve and dynamism in young women that want to change their circumstances for a better, more soulful, more purposeful destiny. With Sorbet on their side, it’s a pretty beautiful ride.


IMG-20161207-WA0021When Courage Roars from a Woman, it shall Inspire a Nation.  

Growing up in a small rural village just outside Giyani Limpopo, Pamela was certain that these circumstances would not become her limitation. With a lack of resources and technical knowledge about any industry, Pam resolves that she will fight against all odds, she will prove the disbelievers wrong and in the end, she will arise victorious!

Paving a cobblestone path to her dream of becoming a beautician, Pamela becomes a self-employed hairstylist and progresses after that to taking part in a Hospitality course in Grahamstown, where she gains the experience to work in the city of lights, Johannesburg. Her receptionist job in Sandton gets her by, but her interest in the beauty industry never leaves her. By cleverly utilising the resources Pamela had available to her, she began teaching herself how to creatively and professionally apply makeup by watching online tutorials. This worked. She grew her clientele and realised that this is what she truly had a knack for.

Public perception has it that young girls that complete their Matric are meant to have the world as their oyster but this sadly isn’t the case for most young South African women since many lack the knowledge and resources to take charge of their lives and empower themselves – which is exactly what Pamela defied when she joined SEW.

“I’ve always known about Sorbet but never thought in a million years that I’d be employed there!” Pamela exclaims with excitement. It is at the SEW Academy that she says she’s learned the most and met women who will be her friends and support system for life.

“They see me walking down the street wearing my Sorbet uniform and they all want to how I got to work there. For most of them, this is a dream.”

“When I first met Lisa from SEW, I knew that she would be a blessing in my life.” Pamela feels grateful for being able to work with SEW co-ordinator, Lisa Mgcotyelwa, because she inspires the ladies to work on their inner selves before polishing their outer person.

Coming from a village where people are not aware of the possibilities of profitable careers in the beauty industry drives Pamela to educate girls about opportunities like SEW. “They see me walking down the street wearing my Sorbet uniform and they all want to how I got to work at Sorbet. For most of them, this is a dream.”

At a tender 24 years of age, Pamela is a role model to these young girls and all role models have goals they are constantly working on to better themselves and others too. Knowing what Pamela has in store for the next five to fifteen years has truly set the bar high. She will continue to pass down her inspiring stories to the young women of today who, like Pamela, will not be afraid to roar with the power of beautiful pride.

For Pamela, her dream is far from a solo affair. Through her persistent financial support,  Pamela wants to see her 3 year old son, Ntsako exposed to the best educational opportunities and securing his future by setting up an educational trust fund for him. Born to a line of independent women, she also cannot wait to see her younger sister graduate with her BSc from the University of Johannesburg next year. Furthermore, Pamela is excited to help her tenacious mother complete her Honours Degree in Information Science at the age of 45. “All of this is possible thanks to my stable job at Sorbet.” She says in closing, with warmth and appreciation.

And suddenly, as I begin to appreciate what it is to be Pamela, fifteen years doesn’t seem like a long shot.



“I am who I am today because of Sorbet and The Clothing Bank,” says Zelma Matinise, while on her way to work at Steenberg Sorbet on a bright Saturday morning in Cape Town. “I really enjoy working with Sorbet and, even now, when I walk into the store to start work, I love it. It’s a great environment and feels so healthy: so clean and peaceful.”

Zelma was one of the first of four graduates to complete her training as a qualified nail technician through the SEW Academy, in partnership with The Clothing Bank. Having originally wanted to study engineering, a career in beauty was a vast departure from her initial ambitions but in brightly-coloured pots of gelish, amidst UV lights, the creativity of nail applications and, most of all, the happiness she finds in interacting on an hourly basis with her clientele, Zelma has not only found her calling in life but a place of belonging too.

Zelma’s story began when she approached The Clothing Bank a social enterprise focused on up-skilling and empowering unemployed women to social and financial independence. At that time, the social initiative available was selling clothing – and was restricted to mothers only. This was hard news for Zelma as, with no children of her own, it meant she wasn’t able to participate. This is when she mentions previous SEW Academy Manager and now Managing Director of the Amazi beauty brand, Divya Vasant, as the person who truly journeyed with her.

“Divya was the one who saw the potential in me, and helped me get to where I am today.” As Divya began working closely at the time with passionate, capable women like Zelma, an inspired partnership was setting in the wings.

Zelma was one of the very first learners to train through the then newly established SEW Academy in 2014.  She admits that the ride wasn’t always smooth – with challenges, obstacles and hurdles that needed to be overcome, as well as processes and procedures that needed to be fine-tuned within and by the SEW Academy “But even so, I wouldn’t have changed this journey for the world,” she adds.

 “I love what I do and I’m good at it too”

After a short stint of running her own beauty store, Zelma found permanent employment at Sorbet The Point, where owner Mandy Metz was integral in her journey – another woman she deems a change maker in her life. “I never imagined myself becoming a nail technician, but this is definitely the industry for me. I love what I do and I’m good at it too,” she smiles at me, and I get that wholesome all-too familiar fairytale feeling.

Beyond happiness, beauty and life skills, employment and a whole host of life-changing, character-expanding experiences, perhaps the most exciting thing that the SEW journey has given Zelma – for the first time in her life – is the capacity and the courage to dream, and dream big.

“Now I have goals. I want to work on cruise ships, or abroad in places like Dubai. I never imagined – or even dreamed – about that ever happening. But now I want to travel, to see different things, to meet and work with different clientele. I still want more. I want to go for it. And now I know I can.”


How else can I get involved?

Use our graduates to host a pampering corporate wellness/business event – contact us to learn more about our Academy pop up concept.

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