Wednesday, 22 March 2017

ToastMasters Journey

I had the opportunity to be part of a Toastmasters club a few years back, I actually went through the whole nine yard, registered and did my first speech. Unfortunately, life swallowed me and I dropped out. Fast forward to 2017, a colleague invited me to a meeting for kick starting the Toastmasters club at work I decided to take the opportunity without thinking twice. I guess the year 2017 is a year of dusting myself and polishing my skills. I honestly subscribe to self-improvement, learning new skills or polishing skills.

What is Toastmasters about you may ask? Let me share with you what I know so far about the concept. It is basically a nonprofit organization that teaches people about public speaking, communication, and leadership skills. You organize yourself, form a club and follow a set of rules and guidelines provided by Toastmasters Organization, to master the art of public speaking. The organization has been operating since 1924.

Why would anyone want to improve their communication or public speaking? My question is who would not want to improve their communication and leadership skills in this day and age? We live in a fast pace environment where making first impression is key to getting your message across. I have embarked on a journey to profile women entrepreneurs, from all walks of life who originally hail from my home province. I take this very seriously, I want to give it the attention and professionalism that it deserves. Toastmasters will help me polish my communication skills. I will get better at interviewing and presenting each and every story with clarity and energy it deserves. I am hoping that I will learn from this experience and grow as person. Spending time with Rachel Gadisi of RachelG Cake and Party has also motivated me to never stop learning and polishing my skills.

Going back to Toastmasters, I attended the first meeting and I must say I am excited already. The previous club president was more than eager to walk us through the rules and process of the club. Toastmasters is well structured, members give speeches, take meeting roles, and give guidance and feedback. There are roles that must be field by different members during each and every club meeting, this is meant to improve the member’s leadership skills.  It is about strength building by giving constructive feedback in a structured manner. I learned a lot from the meeting, it is not just about your written speech, but a combination of couple of technics in order to deliver the message and connect with your audience. It is about writing a speech that will talk to your audience not at them or talking past them. A good speech is 53 % presentation, how you present yourself, how you engage and connect with the audience. The tone and pitch of your voice also plays a big role when delivering your speech. I am going, to be honest, this is one area I am looking forward to mastering. I get very nervous and my voice fades away, I look forward to learning how to channel my nerves and speak with a stern confident voice, whether I am interviewing, presenting or selling something. I am looking forward to my journey into becoming a better communicator.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Woman behind the Business with Nyadzawela Rachel Gadisi of RachelG cakes and Party

The size of South Africa’s events management industry is growing. The demand for events planning, from a kiddies party to a wedding is increasing by the day. As more black people participate fully economically we have seen the rise of the middle class using the services of events planners or services that were not previously made use of.

Genesis ……………..

Rachel Nyadzawela Gadisi is a 4th born child of a Venda traditional artier maker, she was raised in Shayandima in the far north of Limpopo. Her mother started by selling traditional drink (Mabundu), and then went on to make Venda traditional wear (Minwenda, vhukunda na vhulungu). You can say that she was raised in a creative environment where entrepreneurship was the way of life. 

Her road to Damascus:  Schooling and Career …………………………..

 She attended high school at Dimani agricultural high and took Home Economics as one of her elective subjects. I have always assumed that Dimani Agricultural High was the perfect school for her, but after our casual chat, she explains that she should have never gone to a high school like Dimani if she knew any better. She blames the lack of career guidance in our schools as her reason for taking a long road to her passion, she believes that she should have never attended a school like Dimani Agricultural High which was known for Mathematics and Science. Looking back she should have been enrolled in a high school that would have natured her artistic and creative side.  Rachel went on to obtain a Diploma in HR, when she could not get a job she did not sit back and feel sorry for herself, instead she enrolled on a short course in Emergency Care just to secure a job.  By day, she is a part of the Johannesburg Emergency Contact Centre team, and on the side, she is building her Cake and Party company. In a country where unemployment is high and the world facing an economic crisis, we need more of her kind.

Business, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy………….

In many ways, Rachel has been a trailblazer for entrepreneurship in her community. Her case is special because even when she could not get a job that she studied for, it did not stop her from turning a page and writing a different story for her future, she took a leap of faith and her rise to prominence has been fueled by her hard work, a vision, and faith.

She started her Cake and Party company by organizing Kiddies party back in 2010, she would source her cakes from different suppliers. It was after getting negative feedback from her customers with the birthday cakes that led her to a path of baking and decorating her own cakes, so that she could directly own the supply chain. She knew that if she baked and decorated her own cakes, she would receive the criticism as a learning curve for her. She took it like the professional and went to improve her work and that translated to her getting better at her craft. Her approach to business can be directly seen in her having loyal customers who don’t mind ordering from her from as far as Limpopo. Her free time is spent fulfilling orders that need to be delivered to North West province and her home province Limpopo. Rachel has a tendency to befriend all her customers and letting them know her personally, you end up feeling like you are the most important person in her life

“When I started it was not easy, but I persevered. It took me years to build my business to what is it today, the first chair covers and tablecloth I ever owned were handmade, thanks to my dressmaking skills I learned from my Home Economics class and helping my mom in her business. I recall taking a taxi to the Oriental Plaza to buy the material for the chair covers and tablecloth, and I used a pattern that I was given by a certain gentleman in Dobsenville to make them".
This picture was in 2011 somewhere in Roodepoort..Huildekruin.

Splitting the red sea …………………The assistant she received
I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear, the quote by Rosa parks comes to mind when Rachel explains to me how she funded her business. A mother of three, instead of fearing the worst, it became her driving force. She took a leap of faith and went into business with no funding or financial assistance. She explains that she mostly depended on the support of her friends and family. She would take from her savings, her bonus and stokvel monies and invest it into her business by buying assets. 
Rachel believed in her business and she did not only feel the need to invest in the business but also she invested in polishing and improving her own skills. She has in the past years enrolled in different courses and workshops to upscale herself. She has attended Traditional cake deco,  flower arrangement class, just to name a few, she actually says she has attended a total of ten classes. I must say there is a lot to learn in how this dynamic woman runs her business and pride herself with her work.

“I have learned a lot from running my own business, you need passion, tenacity, and drive. You have to live and love what you do. I started the business with my own savings, Stokvel and my bonus money. I would plan ahead for my bonus and when it comes I will invest it into the business, I would buy all that I need to run an event, be it a kiddies party or a wedding, from Jumping castles, chairs and I also managed to convert my garage into my workshop and bought a commercial oven.”

Let me hold your hand lets walk on water ……………….

Rachel believes that it is important to surround yourself with a good supportive structure, if you don’t have, create one for yourself, she says. Her family, friends, and community have played a key role in helping her grow, yet one particular friend and mentor always stands out: Tshililo Muthige has been there for her since the first day, offering her business advice and support. Getting a mentor, someone who’s been there, done that and learned lessons the hard way is indispensable. I must say, listening to stories of women who are there for each other is refreshing.

Services that RachelG Cakes and Party offers:

She offers a full on events management for her customers”
 Party or Events equipment:  Chairs, Tables, Crockery, Plates hire.
Services: Decoration and Flower arrangement
Baking: Custom made cakes, cupcakes, and scones

Greatest achievements so far …………

She shares her greatest achievements as being able to grow her business, she has been able to accumulate assets, from chairs that she is able to hire out to her customers, and other entrepreneurs in the same industry. She also recalls a time where she would deliver goods in her private car, and now the business has grown to allow her to invest in a company car. Her work has been featured in the magazine like Weddings. Having one’s work featured in a magazine is very encouraging, it is an affirmation that you are on the right path………………………………

Plans, hopes for the future……………..

It has not been easy juggling her day job and perusing her dream, but her job is necessary at the moment and time in her life. Her business is like a 4th child to her, it still needs her to invest in it. She would like to see her business grow and employ people in future. She currently conducts basic cake decorating classes.

Give and it shall be given back to you …………………
Rachel is a mother of 3, a sister, a friend to many, a full-time employee and an entrepreneur. To add icing and decorations to her colorful rich life she still makes time to give back to her community. Rachel will always send out a Facebook post and what’s app message at the beginning of the years to remind her friends, family, and colloquies about the Phalaphala FM school shoes drive. She will encourage everyone to get involved in donating a pair that is collected and distributed to school kids who would otherwise go without for the whole year. She has also created a group for all the former Dimani Agricultural High School pupil who are interested in getting involved and what they do there is they keep in contact with the school management and help where they can. They will buy the school uniform for school deserving kids. She recently hosted her 40th birthday celebration, and the entrance gift was a box of sanitary pads that she distributed to schools. I think you can agree with me that Rachel is selfless woman with a heart of gold, making a positive impact in other people’s lives, whether it’s with her family or their community through initiative or business


Facebook: RachelG Cake and Party
Contact Numbers: 083 240 4437
Instagram: Rachelgadis_Cakes   

Monday, 27 February 2017

RE: Journey Back to Writting: #JHBContentCreators

 It is about 30 minutes passed midnight and I am thinking to myself where do I begin? It has been 3 years since I contribute to my blog.  It has been on my mind since the beginning of the year I have been pondering the idea of resurrecting and giving it a new face. I am sure that I don’t want to keep the angle that I was using previously when I was blogging, but one thing I am sure about is that I like inspiring, motivating and recognizing people especially women, I also love writing.  My plan is to take the two and turn them into my side hustle.

I stopped blogging because I ran out of steam, hit a writer’s blog and truth be told I was struggling to grow my audience. I woke up in January with a determination to write and I knew that it was not too late to resurrect the dream. I undertook a journey of writing my vision for this blog on paper. I wrote down what and who I will be writing about, came up with a standard letter that I will email to people I would like to profile.  When Katchie Nzama, “Thesolowonderer“ posted on Facebook that she would be holding a workshop on Content Creation,  I knew right there that God was listening, the universe was conspiring on my behalf and all I have to do was just say yes.  I just knew right there that this was God's way of saying it's time! You cannot ignore the voice inside anymore. I knew that if I wanted to succeed this time around I need to put my name out there, socialize, say yes to being a student, learn from others, network and hopefully soar this time around.

Waking on Saturday the 25th February was not easy, it was a gray gloomy rainy day, and the weather was just temperamental in Johannesburg. All I wanted to do was stay in bed, ask my son to make me some breakfast and maybe read a bit or curl up on the sofa with a blanket. I decided that my loyal warm cozy bed is not going anywhere, it will always be there for me, but an opportunity to interact with like-minded people and network I am not going to miss it. 

Katchie together with Afrihost hosted the workshop at Afrihost’s head office in Rivonia. It was a picnic setting at their rooftop, the heavens were kind enough to close the floodgates for those few hours that we assembled, discussing and sharing knowledge. The idea behind the #JHBContentCreators workshop was the coming together of young black content creators in Gauteng. How we can all help each other grow in the different industry, be it travel blogging, freelance writing, and marketing. Katchie Nzama established travel blogger shared her insights in how she travels, blogs and create content. She talked us through her journey from just traveling for fun to traveling and blogging as a career. How she has grown her brand and business, her job requires her to be on the road, even though it is fun she also has to make a living out of the traveling. She shared insights on how she runs subtle campaigns always tries to create content that is genuine and not tries to oversell the lifestyle.  She also touched on the concept that traveling is a service that she offers to her clients, she offers her time, she uses her time, data and quality pictures so she is a firm believer that the time and effort she puts in servicing her clients should equal the pay.

I met a lot of interesting people at the workshop and mostly are in the traveling and marketing industry. Young creative minds who have 9 to 5 jobs but are also entrepreneurs who want to sell their services, like me. We discussed how we can collaborate and share information and pass on work.  I met a lady by the name of Phumeza Langa who does PR/Marketing for a security company 9 to 5 but does freelance writing, she profiles dynamic women and she also sells smoothies on weekends. I got to sit next to a lady who is currently looking for a job but she is a food blogger (@BeastlyeastSA and founder of @PulysCupcake).  Apparently, she makes delicious cupcakes, (to bad she did not bring them on that day). I also met a luxury travel blogger. I spent some time in the company of the co-owner of a travel agency that puts together budget travel packages for in and around South Africa. @Travelcheapskate has the young up and coming South African in mind, she would like to see more people exploring their country. We also touched on a topic that is close to my hearts, traveling with small kids, I have promised to blog about my experience and share with her.  I interacted with a gentleman from Zimbabwe, @MeyouHello, who is also in the travel industry and currently starting a platform for the hospitality industry to sell their last minute deals, I must say as an avid traveler myself I am looking forward to the platform as I find myself having made no plans beforehand, but longing to be somewhere I have never been before. I also met a lady who blogs about sex, and also interacted with an avid writer from Namibia and also Kenya. Last but not least, can you believe that I was not the only one with a “boring” 9 to 5 job and yet an interesting travel life?  Thembi Khumalo, is an outdoor sports fanatic. She mostly does sports travel, as she says she loves anything that takes her outdoors from running to cycling and also assembling her own bike.

Enough about the interesting people I met, everyone had an interesting story to share and I took with me nuggets of wisdom from everyone who attended, wish I can share each and everyone’s story. Going back to the workshop, the aim of #JHBContentCreators is to form a community for content bloggers from different industry and a support structure, a platform for supporting each other as young content writers in an environment that is predominantly white. The aim is to help one another grow our audience but also guide each other in terms of writing, blogging and creating content as a service, and hopefully get paid for it. I must say Katchie has opened a door for us and I am grateful to be part of such an initiative.

I might have woken up thinking is this doable, can I relaunch my blog? What will make it a success this time around, what will be different?  I know one thing my blog is about women entrepreneurs, women who are not afraid to fail, women who are not afraid to give more hours or a go an extra mile to start a business or make their dreams become a reality. Women who are not afraid to start from the bottom, from the woman who is making cupcakes and selling them at work or another that selling chickens and delivering them door to door, to the woman who is closing a million rand deal, I think they all deserve to be celebrated and also their stories should be heard. Social media is a powerful tool and I am going to use it to feed your soul.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Vhutshilo-Havhudi: Business Woman of the Moment


Thanking you for your time.

Our plan is to profile women that are originally from Limpopo, who are running their own business or are entrepreneurs. As a successful business woman with years of experience we would like to invite you to  to be profiled on our blogpost. 

Entrepreneurship is currently a vital part of government’s plan for growing our economy. The importance of entrepreneurship culture in economy and social development cannot be overstated, to add on entrepreneur need all the support to make sure that their business grows. When you empower a woman you directly fight poverty, equality and unemployment, empowering a woman feeds families, uplifts communities and changes lives.  Women in South African are known for coming together and forming supportive structures. Vhutshilo-Havhudi is a social media platform aimed at exposing and marketing SMMEs owned by Women of Limpopo. Vhutshilo-Havhudi is a blogsport dedicated to exposing the women behind the business, how they started their business, how they juggle their lives as some are full time employed, mothers and wives. Our aim is to profile women from across all industries, from formal to informal sectors, and those who run their business full time and part time. The platform and partnership will give an opportunity to showcase their services, but also the readers can also be motivated and inspired to start their own business.

Social media is currently a great tool for marketing in big, small companies and individual business owner.  Our plan is to use social media to generate exposure for the Women in business. Social Media is a force in today’s world. 

Thanking you in advance

Vhutshilo Havhudi blogspot