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