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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

My 5 lessons in young business

"Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice." Peter Drucker

No one ever promised us that getting into business was going to be easy. But from where we were sitting, my bestie and I had put it off for long enough, so getting off our butts was the only option left open to us. We were itching for more.

After a mere two years in business, I can say with absolute certainty that- ideas are easy, but implementation is hard. Here are my top 5 lessons learnt in business so far.

1. To work IN the business is not the same thing as working ON the business.
(This is a difficult lesson for most start ups to learn. As business owners there is a real danger in getting so busy with the day to day operations, that there is no time to work on strategies that will chart the overall direction of the business.)

2. Keeping it lean and clean, is not just a choice you get to make as owners. It is a matter of survival.

3. Have a business advisor or a mentor.
(Especially one with a knack for strategy, numbers and attention to detail. Things that we as creatives often think about as an after thought.)

4. Find ways to self motivate.
(The day to day running of the business will deplete you- mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As a result you will need to replenish your stores.)

5. If like my partner and I, you are in a 50/50 partnership and you also happen to be close friends, then you must know that your partnership is like a marriage. Simply put, it will require constant communication, constant work and if you are of the religious persuasion, constant prayer too. It is The most important element of your business. The better this relationship works, the better it is for your business...and of course for your sanity.

Year 2 has been fraught with potholes and detours. We danced to a tune neither of us was familiar with and we were stretched to the max. But we grew immensely and we also reached new depths in our knowledge of what it truly means to be business owners. Its been one heck of a year.

Thats all I will say for now.

If you haven't taken the leap yet, but have always wanted to- do it. And if you have no desire to pursue this course,that too is admirable. Here is to wishing you the courage to bring your vision to life. Whatever that vision may be! 😉

Saturday, 3 December 2016


“Every case of a woman being abused is a case too many. Too many survivors continue to suffer in silence and it is our joint responsibility to do whatever possible to change this”

It's sad to read that South Africa has 1 of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. But it’s not enough to just lament this fact. So I decided to add my voice to the many others also saying No to violence against women!

On Saturday, the 26th of November the stage was set for the very popular #SisterswithBlisters protest walk at Monte Casino. Not only was Joburg weather positively showing off, with its clear blue skies and beguiling sunshine, but the occasion was also blessed with participants with lots of gees and personality.

Seeing as I am one of those people who are slightly adverse to hardcore, grueling manual exercise, I was a tad bit apprehensive about signing up for this 5km walk, but I am very glad to report that the day turned out to be a most pleasant surprise for both my walking partner and me. On arrival we were greeted by fantastic marshals, the walk was well organized and most importantly, we were thoroughly entertained by people we saw along the route- with their crazy costumes and of course the men in their 9inch stiletto heels and sequined, padded bras! The water stops were a hive of activity, and the screaming water volunteers, had us all in stitches. They were cheering everyone on so enthusiastically that even if you were considering not taking the water from them, you ended up doing it anyway just to get in on the fun. I also liked the ‘selfie-pitstops’- What a nice touch!

Besides the fact that the #SisterswithBlisters protest walk is a fantastic occasion to raise awareness against women and children abuse, it also presents a unique opportunity for men, women, children (and our dogs) to come together, walk as one and make our collective voices heard- and that’s more than enough for me.

One of the main things it does well to highlight is also the often hard, but very important work done by the 1st for Women Foundation in the fight for equality and protection for women and children. We know that violence against women and children is a social tragedy that transcends political, religious and economic boundaries- so it is encouraging to know that all the proceeds raised from the walk will be donated to two other organisations that make a practical difference to the lives of those affected by abuse.

This is a worthy cause, and was a truly memorable occasion to have been a part of. Kudos to 1st for Women Foundation and all the other partners, I will definitely be taking part in the walk again next year!

Check this out for more information on the work done by the 1st for Women Foundation

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

GUEST BLOGGER: @stephinazwane- ''What do you do if you want to make a film in SA- but have no idea where to start?"

What do you do if you want to make a film in SA but have no idea where to start? You start.

You start writing a synopsis and breakdown, sometimes the most boring thing to do when all you want is to make a film. But having written a few short film scripts before, I knew this was very important, especially if I was planning on not writing the script myself (I ended up co-writing it).

You ask a few of your contacts to help you but they all tell you that it can't be done, especially if you want to start shooting it within three months. But I have become the girl that doesn't accept no for an answer, not without a bit of a fight and some manipulation of the system. But you see, to manipulate the system, you need to know how the system works, which I didn't.  I was just a girl with a story I wanted to tell.

So I told it, after convincing my partner in crime that we had to. It didn't take much convincing because she's also a phenomenal storyteller and she chose to stick with crazy old me for over a decade. If this didn't work, I was going to blame her for not stopping me in time, for approving the project and for being a great support structure. 

So we soldiered on, two girls with a big, impossible dream, about to go on another crazy adventure together (the first one was the launch of AzaTV). I think we have a knack for operating outside of our comfort zones, it's terrible, especially for our sleep patterns.

Our film Love and Kwaito came alive in the streets of Kliptown. We had no idea how it would change our lives. For one, it meant that we had to deplete all our company funds to make the film, which weren't a lot to begin with. Secondly, we had to maneuver social stereotypes, when a tavern owner wouldn't believe that my very pretty and vertically disadvantaged partner was the boss, he had wanted to speak to 'umlungu' before he could turn down his blaring radio so that we could continue filming, he was sorely disappointed by this. Our metamorphosis into filmmakers had come, it was filled with hard lessons but also the greatest joy. We were hearing new terms we had never heard before (and we had been in the TV industry for over 15 years). Words like 'distributor,' 'worldwide film rights' and 'dcp file.' We had to nod and pretend we knew what it all meant and then secretly ask those who were on the same journey as ours for definitions. 

We're still learning, still probing, still dreaming.  We can't wait for people to watch our labour of love, but we're also so scared that they might not like it. The few who have seen it, fall in love with the story and the characters that we helped bring to life. They laugh, cheer and shed tears as they see themselves or even their neighbours in some of the characters- but most importantly, they see and appreciate our hard work. 

So what do you do if you want to make a film in South Africa? You bring people on board who will share your vision and pursue it as fiercely as you do. They don't have to be perfect, but they need to believe in you. We had the best team in the world. The other thing you do when you want to make a film in South Africa, you apply for funding, at least that's what smart people do. It takes very long, some even give up along the way and great stories go untold, but at least it's not your personal money. Would I do it the same way all over again? Of course, yes!!!

- Twitter: @stephinazwane
- Facebook: StephinaZwane 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Travel bug- My Canada Top 12

After 12 days spent in Canada, mostly in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival, I noticed and partook in some weird and wonderful things. Naturally, I joted some stuff down while on my travels and here is my TOP 12 on Canada: 

1. Niagara Falls!!!!
Wow. The beauty of the falls is awe inspiring. The sound is incredible, and even though all the locals complain about how many tourists flock to see the falls annually, naturally I didn't mind- because as I had to remind them, I myself was a tourist eager to see this piece of mastery on the Creator's part.

2. The UBER drivers
We were staying quite far away from downtown (where #TIFF was taking place), so we relied a lot on UBER to get around. Toronto's UBER drivers were all super friendly, especially when they heard that we were all the way from "Africa" as they all twanged on hearing Johannesburg in our responses to them. But boy, oh boy, are they really bad drivers. I have to issue a disclaimer here though, I confess to be a particularly bad backseat driver, so take this with a pinch of salt if you will. However, I was travelling with one of my Besties, and she concurs with this assertion, their driving left much to be desired. Thankfully they made up for this, with oodles of good natured humour and personality. 

3. Cocktail hour, was disastrous everyday!!
Shew! They drink some pretty strange cocktails these Canadians. I like to think of myself as rather experimental with my palate, simply put, I am not afraid of tasting new things...urm...not so fun when the cocktail comes back tasting like a bad version of the Floo shot. The friendly waitresses kept egging me on to try the famous 'Caesar' cocktail. So I did. Its like drinking Tomato juice, mixed with cayenne pepper, Tobascco sauce, BBQ spice, some alcohol I didn't recognise and a loooooonnnngggg squeeze of Lemon juice. Let's just say I am not in a hurry to try this again. 

It looks like this...

Besides this disaster of a cocktail, every other attempt we made to order the normal classic cocktails like the Long Island Ice Tea or even the hard to mess up, Mojito, we were left sorely disappointed, and after 12 days of experimenting at different restaurants daily, we came to the conclusion that the Canadians are clearly good at other things! 

4. The friendliness of the locals
Having travelled extensively to the US and the UK, I must say the people in Canada were a very pleasant surprise. They are genuinely very friendly. And I am not talking about the 'fake, sheepish type of friendliness' that seems forced, I mean real friendliness like we see at home. A huge part of why I like Toronto so much is definitely because of the people. I hear their winters are lethal, so maybe I should assess whether they are as friendly when they are freezing their arlies off- but for now, I give them 5 stars in this respect. 

5. Salt frugality!
Perhaps its legislated by their health department, but these people are really frugal, no actually stingy with their salt. Almost everywhere you eat, you would probably request some salt, because the food although at times, really delicious, almost always tasted salt-less. 

6. Movie-watching-heaven for film lovers!
Their cinemas are massive, and most of them spectacular as well. Besides the Scotiabank complex, the others are like old-school Opera theatres with Gallery style seating and draping. It was amazing  to have watched amazing films like, 'A United Kingdom', 'Queen of Katwe' and 'Birth of a nation' in Toronto. Truly unforgettable in fact. 

7. Road hazardary
Driving on their roads when you are used to cars coming from the other direction, is positively 'heart-attack-inducing' and it is not something me and my travel companion ever got used to. Personally I felt like it made the roads seem chaotic and disorganised, also downright dangerous. But I suppose its mostly because we are just not used to it, that it just didn't make sense to us. 

8. Breakfast pancakes!
They make some really scrumptious breakfast pancakes, second only to pancakes that I had at a Diner in Hollywood. 

9. WIFI Heaven
Toronto is WIFI heaven for people like us, who are not used to getting free WIFI everywhere we go, 24 hours a day. This is a true marvel for our social media loving generation, me included!

10. VISA Application
The VISA Application process is probably the worst one I have ever experienced. And trust me this is saying a lot, considering that the first time I ever applied for the US VISA, my application was denied. The Canadian VISA form even requests information about deceased half brothers and sisters...Lol! Considering how much I whined and whinged about the unabridged birth certificates issue that our Home Affairs introduced last 2 years, I can safely say, that I take back everything I said, and I apologise profusely. Lol!

11. Coffee loving of note
There is a huge coffee drinking culture in Canada. Yes the states have a Starbucks on every corner practically, but Toronto even takes this even further by not only having a #Starbucks around every 2nd corner, but they also have #TimHortons, #SecondCup and #AromaCoffees. I still prefer the Cappuccino at Starbucks though. In fact, we wanted, no let me rephrase, we Needed a cup every morning so badly, that Steph and I took to calling it 'crack'. Its addictive. 

12. Toronto = Pretty City, but our SA suburbs are still much prettier
I always say travelling will either make you love your country more, or really despise it, and let me just state for the record that in terms of the beauty and general aesthetic of the place, there is nothing there that is in my opinion better than here at home, so pat yourself on the back- SA still Rocks!

- All in all, #Toronto was a great city to visit. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat! And people keep asking me if I would relocate to Canada, and to answer that, there isn't much to think about in that respect, because I would. It would be an easy adjustment after life in SA. 

Til we voyage again- Adios!

Monday, 3 October 2016

GUEST BLOGGER: @Lee_Lurv on "Being a single, young Mom in Joburg"

Carrying a child at 20 years of age was both exciting and confusingly stressful. I didn’t really have full knowledge of what may arise and I fed off the fact that this child was blessing from God, yet it was confusingly stressful, because my life was changing drastically.

The excitement for me was motivated by both the arrival of my new bundle of joy and the love and support I received from the father of my child. I couldn't wait to meet her, love her and just be the best mother I could be. 

This time was not without its challenges though, I felt like I was disappointing my mother. She was a Single mother of six, financially strained, and had high hopes for me. Also my body was changing drastically daily, I gained weight and friends were getting fewer and fewer by the day. It was hard to juggle between the unfortunate bump, school and work. I was missing my life before the bump, modeling, going out and just being able to sleep on my tummy lol. However I made it through and my baby was born in November of 2007.

Unfortunately her father and I broke up in January 2008, irreconcilable differences. He is now happily married and living with his wife in Johannesburg.

I had to leave my baby in Kimberley with my mother and return to Johannesburg to pursue a career in order to care for my child. Thankfully though, her father was always active in her life and is still very supportive and maintaining his child well, in fact he does even more than I envisaged or even expected of him; he really adores her.

The challenges of being a Single Young Mother in Johannesburg vary woman to woman, mine really stemmed from having to live far away from my child, and she was 600km away, very young and yearning for motherly-love. I'm forever grateful to my mother for having being there and loving my child like her own. But back in Joburg I was struggling, unemployed and staying with friends.

Eventually God answered and blessed me with a great job. I was now able to properly look after my child and visit her as often as possible. Her father and me developed a civil relationship for the sake of the child and we now get along well.

Things did however became difficult when he lost his job in 2010 and I had to foot the bill for our child alone and still maintain myself, while at the same time still juggling work.
It's during this time that I decided to live with my daughter, enrolled her into a creche close to where I stayed, so I could drive her to school daily without a hassle.

Mornings were a mess for a good three months because I was not used to caring for a child and myself, it had always just been me. I made to-do-lists on the daily, struggling to juggle between home, her and work. Most times I would forget to even take care of myself. So I'd wake up at 05:00, take a bath and get myself ready, wake her up at 06:00 and get her ready, then pack her bag and make us breakfast. Drive to school and then to work, optimize my time at work, sometimes I'd have to work late and ask the creche to drop her off with the special transport, then ask my roommate to please feed and bath her while I was still slaving away.

And I knew something had to give at some point, so I sent Mosa (my daughter) back home again in 2010 and she has been staying with Mama ever since. What I learnt from my experience was not to rush into love and life, or you may find yourself in a compromising situation that could be really difficult to navigate. In love and life there are endless uncertainties, one will never really know what's coming ahead - trust God and remain Faithful to His will and word. Parenting is hard but much more difficult for a young single mother in Johannesburg, due to financial demands and other pressures.

My daughter Mosa`s recollection of this time will be different from mine. For her it was memorable spending time with mommy more than anything, simple things like mommy bathing her, sitting and eating together, chatting and her telling mommy all her stories was a marvel to watch and she always had a spark in her eyes.

My daughter is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, she motivates and drives me to be greater than what I believe I could be, she is that extra step when I can't carry on. I have an awesome job now; thankfully it pays well and isn't demanding of my time. In 2017 January, Mosa will be staying with her mommy, and will have her own room, mommy will be able to drop her off at school without a hassle, she will attend extra murals and mommy will be able to pick her up diligently after school and we will spend great times at home together. She will also spend two weeks of the month with her dad, which gives mommy a little more time to do what she needs to do. Co-parenting has certainly made life much easier for a single young mother,  like me.


Twitter: @Lee_Lurv

Facebook: Lerato Mothibi

Friday, 19 August 2016

The reasons why I travel...

Do that thing which frees your soul, feeds your curiosity and gives you peace. For me that thing is travel.

Words fail me when I try to articulate to others why I love to travel so much. I enlisted the pros through their quotable quotes to assist me, and take it from me, I think they captured it in just the way I'd have said it myself.


“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

(- Dubai desert, December 2015.) 
After a tumultuous year in which I was struggling to juggle home life, a sick child, studying part-time and starting a new media business, this trip was like a drip administered just in time to replenish my supplies. It also happened to be our first overseas trip together as a family, and what a gift it turned out to be. I came back refreshed and with a changed outlook on all that 2015 had taught me, good and bad. 

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

-(Lions Head, Cape Town, 2016)

The Mother City's beauty speaks for itself. It has a beauty that never gets old no matter how often you see it. And I really try to make sure that I see it as often as I can. God bless all my friends who live in Cape Town, because it is because of them that I am afforded the pleasure of frequent visits. Every time that I am in the Mother City I am reminded that I actually spend way too little time outdoors, and that really needs to change. Adventures await!

“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.” – Hilaire Belloc

- (Miami with Brooke, March 2016)
For every destination there is a story. This one involves me going halfway across the world to spend time with a South African-born woman, who's been living abroad for the past 9 years. We have a mutual friend but had never actually met in person, just texted and then chatted via FaceTime. It felt a little like going across the world for a blind date. A gamble that paid off- because what transpired after just 7 days of fun, sun, many cocktails and probably way too many late nights, is an easy friendship with an incredibly giving individual, who's bubbly personality and insane stories still have me chuckling today, so many months later. 

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

- (Durban, July 2016)

This Durban trip was amazing on many levels. What started off as a 'business trip' of sorts turned into that and more. Growing up my siblings and I were lucky enough to have parents who tried to take us on holiday at least once a year. So to say I have been to Durban many times in my life, is really putting it mildly. Yet on this particular occasion unlike any other time, we got to adventure with locals from Durban, and as such we saw and did things that I had never ever done before. It was a full Durban cultural experience that even ended up with us burning up the dance floor in one of Umlazi's famous tshisa nyama spots. I thought I'd read all there was to read on the 'book called Durban' but this trip proved that there is still much to be done, in a different way and most certainly with different people. Turn the page...

-(The 1 and Only, Dubai, New years eve 2015/2016)

 Every new experience teaches me something new about myself. 'Tis the journey, as much as the destination that I enjoy. And I love that after every adventure, I get another step closer to discovering my true self.

Bon Voyage!