Boss Babes are a group of entrepreneurial women who support and motivate each other in their business ventures. They hope to inspire more women to enter the startup space.
E-commerce business owner Carmen Peters says that even though she doesn’t have a degree, she worked hard to gain the experience to take a leap of faith and start VA Virtual Assistant.
“I wanted to be part of something that grows from the ground up. It’s like raising a child; you see this business come to life, knowing that you’re part of something meaningful and that you’re making a difference. I found a fulfilling way to do something I love, it’s allowed me flexibility and my business has grown. I work with clients all across the world so I’m not limited to only South Africa.”
From humble beginnings in Eldorado Park, Peters says her lack of resources never stopped her from dreaming about a better life for her and her family.
“I never had many opportunities but as a little girl, I knew that I would have my own business. I never knew what it would be but I’m very proud to sit here now and say that I run two businesses. I’d like to encourage women who want to start their businesses and tell them that it’s never too late. If you have a dream or desire just go with it. Rather fail and learn from it than to wake up with regret.”
Success takes hard work
The brains behind Salt and Pepper Accounting and a Chartered Accountant herself, Suhavna Purmasir says it’s all about the courage to take that leap.
“Don’t ever feel that you’re alone. We’ve been trained as women of colour to be obedient. Growing up traditionally you were supposed to follow the man and I say let him follow you for a change. Your life is what you make of it. Be that somebody who you can be proud of and in turn that your kids can be proud of. I want my daughter to be strong, bold and completely outspoken and let her go with her heart wherever it may take her.”
Watch below as the Boss Babes share advice for those wanting to start their own business:
Purmasir stresses that the youth should not expect handouts but that success comes from hard work.
“I worked my butt off in high school to get a bursary for university. It’s ongoing but when you work and gain that experience you get to elevate your career and utilise that degree in the next step and there are so many doors that open for you. Never ever feel like you’re entitled to anything and please do not expect handouts, if you need something, earn it, and it will take you so much further.”
Support local to help the economy
Handmade Collective business owner of LA’s Atelier Lesley-Ann Erasmus firmly believes that South Africans should support local businesses to help boost the economy.
“We need support from our country, for them, to support small businesses. Buy locally as opposed to big retail and products that are made from other countries. Try and stick to buying locally so that these small businesses can then help other people by training new staff and employing more people. This will boost our economy a great deal.”
Erasmus explains that government should help with small business to help give entrepreneurs the confidence to start.
“There’s a huge majority of women in our country that have so many talents and expertise but they are too scared to take that leap and go on their own – even if they know that they can make something about it. The scary part is that they will wonder how they will they survive and whether or not they will get support.”
Graphic Designer Lynn Gordon behind Theme Piece says that her initial 9-5 job helped her with the planning of her business and gave her the skills to set out on her own path.
“We are the mothers of our country and this is pathing a way for our youth. We need to show them that it’s possible. Growing up as South Africans, we’ve all had it hard, living hand to mouth and just trying to survive. Now we can look beyond surviving now that we’re a free country. We can actually make better lives for ourselves, our kids and grandkids.”
Entrepreneurship is a full-time job
Occupational Therapist by trade and owner and voice behind The Daily Hustle, Tasneem Abrahams, says that it was really hard to start a business and those hoping to venture into the entrepreneurial space should be aware that it is a full-time job. Abrahams says the best education in life is life itself
“You need to first identify what is your purpose, what is going to fulfill you and what is your unique definition of success. In doing so, you will then make choices to do certain things that will shape you as a person. When you grow up with limited resources, sometimes you have to just learn on the job. Of course you don’t want to undervalue yourself or be taken advantage of but sometimes you need to take a volunteer job or an unpaid internship. Use those opportunities to gain experience.
Brow Guru, Rashmi Mehta Prag, is an eyebrow specialist who saw a gap in the market when she moved from India to South Africa. She says that she was the first person to use organic cotton to thread eyebrows in the country.
“I started with one eyebrow at a time. At first, I had such little clientele but built myself through corporate and now I’m on my own. I started threading eyebrows at R10, the money never stopped me and no one stopped me. When you work at something, you have to make sure that you’re good at what you do it as people will remember you and support you.”
Passion drives success
Prag initially studied to be an accountant but instead followed her heart as her passion is brows.
“Whatever you do, do it with your heart and do it with your love and it will succeed eventually. I started my business and initially, it was very slow. I didn’t make the target and then made the decision to go into corporate. Even that didn’t work. I then worked as a beauty therapist and that’s where my experience stood out and I was able to start my own thing.
Collaboration duo behind The Beauty Shack, Lynette Joshua and Janine Joshua, stress that it’s all about working together as women.
Hairdresser Lynette explains that it’s not about the money but the passion that makes you successful.
“I started out in corporate but my passion was always beauty. When I got married, I told my husband that I am going to complete a hairdressing course. While I raised my children I completed this course. He then asked me, what are we going to do, we’re earning so little money and I said, this is my passion, if you do what you love, money will follow.”
“When I left and opened up my own store it was hard, it was not easy at all. I failed three times because I didn’t know anything about business or finance. It was trial and error but you just pick yourself up and you try again and it’s through those failures that you learn the most – and today I can do it with my eyes closed. It is when you follow your passion that money will follow.”
Beautician Janine Joshua says that you don’t need a lot of money to start. You just need to grow it slowly. The biggest requirement is your passion and your drive.
“Stay focused and write down your goals, what you want to achieve in your life. I promise you will struggle for x amount of years but the time will come where you will succeed. Money is important for your business but when you have passion; your passion drives your work. My advice is anything you do, do it with passion and love and give your best service as it’s going to give you more referral”
Vikky Harry the creator of Momster Box says that women can achieve so much if they support one another.
“If there’s something you want to start, listen to yourself and just start somewhere with people who are actually on the same journey. Find likeminded women to support you and who are not going to put you down. If you just start somewhere, there will be people and women who will help and support you. Go for it and always follow your heart.”