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The Unwrapped entrepreneur story

When a good idea takes hold, it becomes something more. It turns into a mission. See the story of Jabu and Thabiso's business, Unwrapped.
Jabu Mdluli of Unwrapped in Braamfontein.

Too many people suffer unnecessarily from diet-related illnesses and problems due to a lack of knowledge and accessibility. We’re just trying to put healthy eating within people’s reach and make it mainstream.

Successful people never stop learning. It’s key to staying ahead of the game in any walk of life. Being curious is great; it’s a pathway to good ideas. But to be able to educate others is even better. And to do it in a way that people enjoy? That’s truly special. That is what drives Unwrapped.

When a good idea takes hold of someone, it becomes something more. It turns into a mission; a beacon for a better way forward.

Jabu Mdluli is a torchbearer for a new generation of South Africans. An inquisitive group of young people that is progressive and open to new ideas. A brave new world where discussing emotions is acceptable and self care is cool. And so is being healthy.

This thinking is what motivated Jabu and his business partner Thabiso Nsindane to open Unwrapped – the vibrant health food cafe and juice bar based in Braamfontein. And in addition to his own convictions, Jabu finds fuel and inspiration within the dynamic environment where he works.

“The energy and exuberance in Braam is second to none,” he says with a knowing smile. “Starting the business here was definitely to our advantage. The bustling student life and retail offerings in the neighbourhood attract great people. When we expand, the new location has to have a similar vibe.”

Jabu Mdluli of Unwrapped buying produce at the market.

Jabu knows his target market. They’re people like himself; young, ambitious individuals looking for healthy alternatives that don’t compromise on ease-of-access. Unwrapped’s perfect location, friendly staff and slick branding are all important components of the business, with Jabu keen to unpack the thinking behind the logo.

“The waves in our logo signifies balance. It’s also symbolic of the liquid aspect of our business – juices and smoothies. We all know the majority of our bodies are made up of water and it’s important to keep a good balance of liquid in our diet.”

These convictions are carried through to the kitchen and juice bar, which is where Jabu’s vision for Unwrapped truly comes to life. One look at the menu is all it takes to see where Unwrapped shines – accessible pricing stands out immediately.

“Without compromising on quality, our price points are very competitive. I’d say that sets us apart. We believe that for healthy eating to become the norm, it can’t be expensive and out of reach.”

Locals flock to Unwrapped for the delicious and nutritious smoothies, juices, wraps and health bowls. Jabu believes that everything on the menu deserves to be there. So, when asked what the best thing at Unwrapped is, he allows the majority to do the talking.

“On the smoothie side, the Berry Island Smoothie seems to be the favourite. For the food, I’d say the Chicken or Halloumi Wrap are the most popular. But you must come and decide for yourself what’s the best!”

Unwrapped’s current trajectory is incredibly positive. With the tasty and wholesome options available, its healthy philosophy is gaining traction one customer at a time. First-timers often become regulars and the boutique juice bar gains new fans every day, with Jabu’s passion for healthy eating flourishing in Braam and beyond.

Jabu Mdluli of Unwrapped in Johannesburg.

But the stoic entrepreneur is quick to put progress into perspective. He recalls harder times, pointing to the challenges that all small businesses face. Even to this day, there are still bumps in the road. Just as Jabu wants to educate people about a cleaner way to eat, he’s determined to continue learning.

Funding is always a huge challenge. Once a small business creates a demand for their product, the tools to grow are needed. There are many ways that accessible funding can help small businesses with teething issues. We grapple with the challenge daily, but we are positive.”

Jabu also has words of wisdom for young entrepreneurs with big business dreams that don’t know where to start.

Start. Wherever you can, as long as you start. I know startup capital is a major challenge, but start with what you have and build momentum as you go rather than do nothing. And most of all, believe in your business and don’t give up.”

Follow Unwrapped on Facebook and Instagram and join Jabu’s school of healthy eating. And when you’re next in Braam, be sure to visit them and grab something deliciously wholesome

Jabu Mdluli of Unwrapped in Braamfontein.
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