This year, for the first time, Maison Veuve Clicquot unveiled an international barometer that maps out the current state of female entrepreneurship, shedding light on common prejudices, mental and structural barriers to be overcome and how to get beyond them.
The findings were revealed and discussed in the presence of over 100 of SA’s leading businesspeople at the Veuve Clicquot X Women experience, held on the 24th of October in Johannesburg.
Today Maison Veuve Clicquot wishes to affirm its commitment and embolden successive generations of audacious leading women. “Veuve Clicquot takes pride in providing a platform to South Africa’s audacious businesspeople offering insight and the opportunity to both network and participate in vital discussion.
Veuve Clicquot aims to support businesspeople as they forge their own destinies, so that they in turn can inspire generations of women to come. And Madame Clicquot would surely approve,” says Pascal Asin, Managing Director Moët Hennessy Africa and Middle East.
This was a pioneering experience for bold, entrepreneurial South African businesspeople who reflect the audacious spirit of Madame Clicquot. We caught up with some of the speakers – and SA’s leading woman entrepreneurs in very different fields – Amanda Dambuza, Kholisa Thomas and Lala Tuku to give us insight into their entrepreneurship journeys and share some key learnings.
Amanda Dambuza:Founder and CEO of Uyandiswa
Q: What is the one piece of advice that has served you well in your entrepreneurship journey?
A: The sole purpose of your business must be to generate cash…then you can fulfil all your purpose’s desires. Founded in 2013, Uyandiswa is a Level 1 B-BBEE and 100% Black Woman Owned (BWO), value-adding company. Based in Johannesburg, the company has been setting up project management offices and executing projects for large blue-chip organisations since inception across Africa.
Q: You are part business speaker, part motivational speaker. How does this reflect your management style?
A: I am a very inclusive leader, more inspirational, servant-leader than authoritative. I believe the people I work with must be well-rounded human beings. I really do my best to inspire them to reach for whatever dream they wish for, to know that there are no limits to their potential.
So much so in fact that I celebrate when people leave my company for bigger and better opportunities because it means I have been able to give them a platform that can set up their next. I encourage, support and inspire them to be their best, to just go for it. It does not mean I am a walk-over. I am tough on performance just not the person.
Q: In an interview with Bizcommunity, you stated “Once you decide you are made for business, then plan and execute. Stop waiting for people to validate your dreams. Just go for it.” What are the essential steps to creating a business as a first -time founder?
A: Many technical things like putting together a credible budget or a business plan can be researched and learned but here are some non-negotiables: Firstly, understand that an idea is not a business.
You must be willing to invest your own money into seeing it come to fruition, record some success before asking for others to invest their money into it. If you keep thinking and working on Plan B then you may as well stay where you are.
Undying self-belief and the absolute resolution that your business is the only plan and that you are the only plan should drive you and it really puts you in a different league. Do not be afraid of failure. It is your attitude towards it that determines its long-term effects.
Kholisa Thomas:Founder of www.artfull.co and Kholisa Thomas Art Advisory
Q: You recently launched artfull; please tell us more about the platform?
A: It’s been a dream of mine to create a platform to bridge the gap between artists, art lovers and new art buyers. Living in Joburg, I noticed that many of my friends were living with empty walls in their homes, despite Joburg being home to many amazing artists.
At the same time, I recognised that many of these artists were struggling to find a wider audience for their work.
I saw a gap in the market to connect artists with potential buyers who wanted to start an art collection but didn’t know where to begin. And thus, artfull is born. artfull is a digital platform based in Joburg helping you discover and collect original work and limited editions prints by today’s best emerging and established artists.
We believe that collecting art is not just a purchase but also an experience so we also have in-house art advisors to help collectors who are not comfortable buying online find the perfect artwork for their homes or office. By buying through artfull online or through one of our art advisors, you are investing in the careers of artists, supporting the future of the arts industry in South Africa and acquiring something of beauty made by human hands into your home.
It’s so rewarding for me to watch an artist flourish and have a full-time studio practice because of what we do at artfull and our advisory practice.
Q: Moving from art advisory to an online art platform is a quite a shift! Has it been a sharp learning curve? What advice would you give people giving their company a digital aspect?
A: It has been an incredibly steep learning curve but looking back I wouldn’t have done it differently. I love the fact that because I started from scratch I have had to learn every aspect of setting up, building and growing an online presence, from website development, content creation, online marketing and building a social media presence.
The first advice is to know your customer and understand what problem you are trying to solve in their lives. Through working one on one with clients, sourcing art for their homes and office, I quickly understood what value I was providing in their life: access to expert information about starting a collection, access to quality art and lastly, making the journey from buying the artwork to having in framed and installed in their homes as easy and seamless as possible.
So know your market, understand your client and offer something that is a solution to a problem.
The second piece of advice is have an audience ready before you launch online. In my case my work as an art advisor and through the art events I hosted created a loyal following of clients and new art buyers who were hungry for the information I shared loved the community and connection that came with connecting them to the art world, a world they felt excluded from.
And lastly, find ways for your clients to experience your product offline. At artfull you can make an appointment to see the artwork at my studio space and we will host regular pop-up exhibitions in interesting spaces and have events around the exhibition deepening our clients’ knowledge of the artists and their work.