SA entrepreneur recognised for cutting edge approach to job creation in hairstyling industry


Lewis Thomas, owner and founder of Partners Hair Design, has been named the 2015 Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year’s Job Creator of the Year® at an awards ceremony held in Johannesburg this morning. Thomas was recognised due to the significant work he does in educating and empowering individuals within South Africa’s growing hairstyling community.

After establishing Partners Hair Design 31 years ago, Thomas established the Partners Hair Design Training Academy (PHDTA) with the aim to educate, empower and equip aspiring local hairstylists with the necessary tools to succeed in a very competitive industry. The academy is SETA accredited and provides solutions, aligned with the latest in global hair styling trends, to both the general public, as well as Partners Hair Design staff.

The training academy offers a full-time course over a 12-month period to learners, thereby enabling them to complete all three academic levels required for a full ladies hairdressing qualification in one year, and empowering them to enter the local job market far sooner than after the standard three year course.

Lewis has a very hands on approach and plays an integral role within the academy, as he believes that it plays a critical role in growing the business, as well as the hairstyling and beauty sector, as all students are instilled with global standard skills, professional values and work ethic. He explains that the training includes a fully-functional salon that accurately simulates a day’s work in a salon, empowering graduates with real-life skills and experience. “In the simulation they work with real-life hairstyling products from the larger beauty houses, and are trained in the use of the in-salon software that is commonly used by large players in the hairdressing industry.”

In addition to the role that Thomas plays in education, Partners Hair Design employs approximately 250 individuals nationally, who are exposed to continual on-the-job training and education, which extends to advice on savings and financial wellness, dress and even diet. He says that professional, intensive and personalised training and education is the most important factor which differentiates Partners Hair Design not only from other businesses in the industry, but often from businesses in general.

“Our staff are our most important asset, not only as they are the essence of our business, but because we care for them as individuals,” explains Thomas.

Feroze Oaten, a member of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® judging pane, says that Partners Hair Design epitomises what the Job Creator of the Year® award stands for. “Thomas and his team not only employ a significant number of employees throughout South Africa, addressing unemployment rates of the communities which the businesses serve, but also play a key role in continually uplifting and training their employees with world-class skills.”

Thomas believes that entrepreneurs should be celebrated and recognised due to the important role they play in society. “As with most global or multinational businesses which employ thousands of people it starts with just one person with an idea – the entrepreneur. This person focuses on the idea, overcomes the obstacles and ultimately reaps the rewards on his or her journey.”
For more information about Partners Hair Design visit