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We Are All Wonder Women!

artist: Diana Pedott

I’m still buzzing after last week’s Women’s Day and hearing a song that highlights strong women in Vivo, the new Netflix musical animated film. ‘My Own Drum’ is a banger that has been stuck in my head for days. Get ready to discover your new anthem and watch the music video here. This awesome and wholesome song is about a girl feeling different and instead of conforming to fit in, she is true to herself. As I watched Vivo with my five-year-old son, I thought to myself it’s so amazing how girls are represented in films these days. I just love it how animated movies bust gender stereotypes and teach young girls (and boys) different lessons today. Our young girls are now idolising strong, brave and self-sufficient female characters. Hell yeah!!

strong women

Missy Elliot and Ynairaly Simo’s song ‘My Own Drum’ is all about individuality and empowering girls around the world.
 

August is Women’s Month in South Africa

South Africans celebrate Women’s Month in August and Women’s Day on 9 August every year, where we pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched on 9 August 1956 to protest against the carrying of pass books. August is a wonderful time to honour and celebrate the bravery and power of the women who came before us, but also the South African women in our society today. Women’s Month is also a great reminder to empower each other and that supporting another woman’s success will never dampen yours.

South Africa’s high levels of gender-based violence sometimes make it hard to remain positive, but it’s very important to stay positive and celebrate inspiring South African women. We love supporting the Restoring Dignity Project, encouraging independence, restored self-esteem and healing through soap-making. Purchase their beautiful natural products here. These women are an inspiration as to what can be achieved! 

We as women can change the world for the better and together, we are unstoppable! We are all wonder women, and we are all warriors with inspiring journeys.

I recently interviewed a few powerful women and want to share with you what they have to say. I’d also like to take the opportunity to make a shoutout to all our female customers and followers. Thank you for your support. Nothing but gratitude for you all. We love you!

Meet Ayanda Vana

power woman Ayanda Vana

Ayanda Vana is currently doing her Masters in Tech Law and is the COO of the tech-startup, Khula. She also recently started an amazing podcast ‘Equip and Elevate’  to help women progress, grow and take up space.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

Women’s Month, it is a reminder of how far we have come in the realization of gender equality. However, it is also a reminder that the path to women’s equality has been long and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to bridge the gender gap. More so we have the responsibility to work towards breaking down the structural barrier to women’s equality as it is fundamental for progress and key for development. In order for all of us to be fully free and equal as a generation, we need all genders to work together to eradicate the disparities faced by women on a daily basis. Generation equality means that we need everyone to unite in order to eradicate systemic barriers that hold women back from equal participation and opportunity for all women. It is a demand for equal opportunities, equal pay, call to the end of violence against women’s bodies and mental health as well as policy reform and programmes by our government that are geared towards achieving this goal.

 

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business and how did you do it?

Many women face obstacles and barriers in business and the workplace because of their gender.  Women have to work twice as hard in order to get a “sit at the table”. Even when you do have a “sit at the table”, you still need to work twice as hard in order to be heard and seen. I had to learn to be assertive and stand up for my worth and value.

What impact do you hope for your business to have on your customers and the world?

Khula is a digital ecosystem of platforms that connect & enable role players in the agricultural and food value chain to grow their businesses: through an e-commerce marketplace, trade platform and digital support service for funders & farmers. We envision a connected & inclusive food system that can support the growing need for sustainably and responsibly sourced and produced food around the world.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

It is not easy. I am still learning the art of balancing my professional and personal life especially because I have a 9-5 and some side hustles. However, if I do not get it right, I try to be kind to myself. It is important not to be hard on myself especially when I am balancing a lot of things.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

Growing up I wanted to be many things from a neurosurgeon because I loved Grey’s Anatomy to a fashion editor and then eventually an international Humans Rights Lawyer. Ultimately, I was able to arrive at a decision that whatever I did with my life should contribute to unlocking and cultivating structural changes and development in Africa through my passion for leadership, women empowerment and innovation.

If you could give female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

  • Build a network.
  • Plan for raising capital- Focus on finding the right funding partners in order to scale and grow your business as there are plenty of funding opportunities.
  • Build a team that shares your vision.
  • Make sure that your idea is solving a problem as well as there is product-market fit.
  • Know and understand your customer. 

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

Meet Carin Brink

Carin BrinkBusiness woman Carin Brink is busy with her Masters in Environmental Science and Sustainability, is a marketing manager and co-founder of the beautiful plant-based sushi brand, Plushi as well as Peeled Orange Agency.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

I don’t think we could confidently say that any country in the world has achieved gender equality – nevermind South Africa. If we look back in retrospect, it is apparent that some progress has been made, but it’s simply not enough, or at a fast enough pace. I think this Women’s Month speaks to the people around the world, and especially in South Africa, both men and women, who are speaking up for themselves and others who have been shamed, oppressed and stigmatized. Many of these people are from a new generation – one which is wasting no time in reimagining societies, economies and political systems which not only honours our human rights, but ensures gender equality is achieved. It means, working together, we are one step closer to equal pay, an end to GBV and improved health care that supports our needs and allows for equal decision-making in our lives.

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business and how did you do it?

Speaking honestly, one of the biggest things I had to overcome were my own insecurities. My insecurities crippled my creativity and my own voice. As soon as I learnt my own self-worth and started seeing my value for what it was, everything changed. It took lots (read lots and lots and lots) of hard work, hours of personal reflection and trying to better understand myself, books, podcasts and an incredible support structure and business partner who held space, and still carry on holding space for these changes to occur.

What impact do you hope for your business to have on your customers and the world?

We can only hope that Plushi changes people’s perception of plant-based diets – that it doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Saving the planet can be exciting and taste good too – there’s more to being vegan than wilted spinach and crispy kale (my thoughts once upon a time). Once our customers understand that vegan alternatives can be more delicious than the non-vegan options, hopefully that inspires them to get creative in the kitchen and make some changes in their day-to-day lives, no matter how small. Further than diet, we hope that not only our customers, but other business owners too, can see that making the sustainable choice, from packaging to operations, though they offer a few obstacles, are possible and so worth it.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

Yoh, this one is tough. I’d like to believe I’m in a constant battle with getting the ratio right, and that the balancing point is constantly shifting, which doesn’t make the ratio-creating task any easier. COVID itself has made play time a little more challenging, has it not? If I don’t make sure to constantly check in with myself, I find that I go through phases of pouring myself into work and then overcompensating by over-focusing on my social life, creating an unhealthy balance. Something I’ve recently learnt that really helps to create a balance is to work with purpose, but then to rest with purpose too. That means taking conscious breaks where you don’t touch or think about work – which is way tougher than it seems.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

This question stumped me a little, because I can’t really remember having one big dream as a kid, so I asked my family WhatsApp group. The response “wrestler,” “F1 driver” and “neat and tidy” were given to me – if you knew how my brother and I used to play fight, my list of speeding fines and quite unneat and untidy childhood room – you’d understand why that was not helpful at all.

Back to dreaming. I jumped from wanting to be a marine biologist, to a doctor, a physio, a lawyer to a civil engineer. As my interests changed, so did my ‘dream job’. But one thing I always knew from a young age is that I never wanted to work for anyone else. So, perhaps I didn’t think I’d be running two businesses at this age, but I’m sure the young girl in me is beaming with pride.

Times are tough and small businesses are really feeling it the most. What inspires you to keep on going in today’s climate?

We started both businesses in 2020, so you can say that times have never really been easy, but rather, that tough times have become the norm. I think something that has really helped me remain focused when things get tough is to remember the ‘why’ – why we started. While the ‘what’ you’re selling is obviously quite important, but really understanding why you’re doing something – will help you carry on pushing when times are tough.

If you could give other female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

Just start. If you have an idea, run with it. While it may be possible, finding your ‘passion’ is quite a romanticized novelty. Instead of spending years trying to find your passion, rather start something you believe in, and within it, find things which ignites your passion/s.

Look at Plushi – while my friends might say I have a passion for sushi, loving to eat something doesn’t count as a passion. But within our business, I have the opportunity to be creative, work with people, to cook and create recipes and work on our sustainability – all passions of mine.

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

Hygge Hygge – a beautiful restaurant in the heart of Stellenbosch owned by two sisters, which opened its doors this year and serves the most incredible vegan curry!

Wear Your Sunnies – Owned by Steph Spowart, this sustainable business, sources old school frames and retrofits them with new lenses, giving them a new life.

Fat Freddy’s – a new half-women owned dark kitchen in its final stages before launch, which I recently had the chance to taste their vegan ice cream – the Coconut Butterscotch flavour – yoh, 10/10 would recommend.

Meet Natasha Napoli

business woman Natasha Napoli

Natasha Napoli is on a big mission to save our beautiful earth – one bamboo cup and smoothie bowl at a time! She owns Nourish’d Café in Gardens and Observatory.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

For me, having just had a baby girl, this theme really rings through. I know I was extremely lucky to grow up in a privileged area wherein I received mostly equal opportunities and treatment regarding my basic needs: education, job opportunities, medical care & food. But I know that not all women in this country, or this world, are that lucky. Being a female business owner I’m also regularly exposed to sexism, patronisation and I believe I’ve had to fight particularly hard to get to where I am today. I don’t want my daughter to have to fight this hard. I want every door held wide open for her, as wide as doors are held open for men – I want this for all women. I pray for our sisters to come together to not look out in jealousy, but rather sisterhood and unity. We must stand together and pave the right way forward for our future generations.

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business and how did you do it?

To be honest just being taken seriously. I’ve noticed such a scary difference between how people react when I ask for something over the phone, or in a meeting, vs. when my partner, Gabe, asks for something. This lack of respect really frustrates me, and I unfortunately find that I have to take a much more masculine/intense/ approach just to get things done. I hate acting that way, and I hate that society pushes me into those spaces but if I’m not forward with what I want, I’ll never get to where I want to go.

What impact do you hope for your business to have on your customers and the world?

Shoooweeee! Soooo many! This question is broad haha!! I want to leave the world a better place in every aspect. I’ve recently been exploring what ‘sustainability’ really means in a more corporate and European context and it’s been very interesting. Within the UN for example, the SDG’s (sustainable development goals) cover everything from governance to equal pay, gender rights, ecological welfare and conditions of employment.  Nourish’d has always aimed to be a sustainable business – but rather narrowly within the framing of ‘environment’. Now I’m finding myself widening this understanding – wanting to make a positive difference in all areas of the business and be truly and holistically sustainable.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

It’s still VERY much a work in progress, I’m so involved in Nourish’d – it really is my first child and I really struggle to step away. I’m suuuper lucky that my partner, Gabriel, has just come onboard to help me with the operations and it’s been such a blessing. I love my daughter, Marion-Mae, beyond words and I have to take quality time with her every day otherwise I just feel completely off-centre and mom guilt kicks in baaaad! So what that generally looks like is breakfast together in the mornings, and then MIMI&MAMMA time from about 4pm – 8pm every day. Then dadda gets home from boxing at 6 and we all eat together as a family. MIMI sings us a food blessing song. It’s so cute! If I’m really busy I’ll have to work after we have put Mimi down, but Gabe doesn’t like it when I work late so I try to respect that and I’m off the laptop by 9pm.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

To be honest I didn’t really think about it much. My mom told me that when I had to dress up as what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always dress as an actress or a model! Hahah! Loads of makeup, high-heels and dresses. Lol!

Times are tough and small businesses are really feeling it the most. What inspires you to keep on going in today’s climate?

I mean, honestly, I just can’t see myself doing anything else. Nourish’d is my dream come true, it’s my calling, my mission and my cause. The thought of giving in has never been an option for me, it just isn’t. If I had to think about two things that inspire me, then I would have to say my staff and my customers! The thought of them having to hit the job market now freaks me out so I’ll never give up!

If you could give other female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

Be hard on the outside, but remember your softness within. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above it’s often necessary for women to take a more stern, hard approach in business to be taken seriously. And we all deserve to be taken seriously. But remember that this is a mask – a role you have to step into to survive and thrive in this harsh world. Remember to take that mask off when you get home and remember your softness, your inner child, your creativity, your heart and your feminine flow. Remember to sing, dance, laugh and play with the light of life. This is where the real magic happens!

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

Hmmm there are so many but if I had to choose 3 now, I would say:

  1. @herbiraw– best vegan carrot salmxn YUM – Order some now!
  2. @metalmaidensa– my best friend who makes the most incredible jewellery and she’s an artist. (She’s the artist who writes all of our instore menus on the brown paper rolls.) She is so talented! She can make you anything.
  3. @bacinisonkloof– my incredible sister who is running my dad’s restaurant and is just killin’ it at the whole female boss babe in the same industry as me. <3

Meet Shiv Sewlal

Shiv Sewlal

Shiv Sewlal, allergy-friendly lifestyle influencer and TikToker, shares her story of living with over 40 food allergies to show others that despite her limitations, she still lives a healthy and happy life.

What does this year’s Women’s Month theme “Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights for an Equal Future” mean to you?

In order to achieve generational equality which affects both present and future generations, both men and women need to be aware of women’s rights. It’s not only women’s problem but humanity’s problem and we all should be aware of it in order to reach gender equality.

As a woman, what is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome while running your business/working as a content creator and how did you do it?

Fortunately, I haven’t experienced any hardships relating to my gender. The people on social media have been welcoming and supportive of me and my journey. Everyone in my audience (TikTok and Instagram) has been very inclusive with regards to my race, gender and nationality.

What impact do you hope for your content to have on your followers and the world?

My main aim is to create a community. This is something that I never had growing up. I want to create a space where others feel comfortable to speak about their challenges and are able to relate to other people who have allergies or eczema. Growing up, there was no representation of allergies and eczema, I always felt alone and self-conscious. Showing myself embrace my skin and restrictions with a smile on my face, allows others to feel happy, hopeful and most importantly, not alone.

How do you balance professional and personal life? Have you mastered the work to play ratio yet?

I’m currently studying Computer Science at UCT. Studying, content creation, running my own business as well as maintaining a social life has been difficult. I’m still trying to balance everything but I’m just taking it one step at a time. However, I’m doing what I love and what I feel passionate about, so this makes the hustle worth it.

As a young girl, did you think you’d be where you are now? What did you dream of becoming?

When I was younger, I watched a movie about a food critic and immediately thought that was the best profession. Eating food for a living, life could not get any better. However, my older sister soon crushed my dreams by bringing to my attention my numerous allergies. Strangely enough, I am now always looking for new and exciting allergy-friendly foods to explore. Most of my days are filled with taste testing new products I find, or having different recipes shared by my followers. So, in a way I am living my childhood dream.

Times are tough and small businesses are really feeling it the most. What inspires you to keep on going in today’s climate?

Focusing on my goals and dreams pushes me every day. I have also learnt the importance of persevering. There have been times where I have felt down and really struggled to continue on this journey. However, looking back, I am so grateful that I didn’t give up. I believe that your only limitation is your mind. When it comes to both personal and professional growth, the only limits are the ones you place on yourself.

If you could give other female entrepreneurs any advice, what would it be?

The quote “If you don’t ask, you don’t get it” by Mahatma Gandhi resonates with me. More than 75% of the opportunities presented to me were a result of me putting myself out there and literally asking for it. Don’t wait for an opportunity to present itself to you, go and make it happen.

It’s so important to support small businesses during these hard times. Would you like to share the love by making a shout out to any small brands you adore?

The Allergen Baker sells the best allergy-friendly biscuits ever! I am absolutely in love. It literally has none of my allergens in it, no dairy, wheat, soy, preservatives. Nothing. During winter, I start my day with a warm cup of black tea and their chocolate biscuits.

These female leaders really inspire me and I hope you enjoyed reading their answers just as much as I did. To every girl, every woman who reads this… Please know what a work of wonder you are. Your thoughts. Your body. Your soul. Your revolutionary ideas and your creativity. Believe in yourself and light your own fire! Let your passions, your dreams and aspirations be the fuel that ignites your soul and you will shine. Remember to honour and celebrate yourself today.

All our love,

Janneke and the sisters at Shop Zero™ 💚

1 thought on “We Are All Wonder Women!

  1. […] As part of our Women’s Month celebrations at Shop Zero™, we recently interviewed a few fellow female entrepreneurs. Carin was one of them and gave us such thoughtful answers. Read the interview here. […]

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