Career change: ‘I needed more when I turned 30’

Turning 30 made Eleanor Douglas-Meyers decide she wanted more in life. Looking back, she is grateful that she then made a bold choice to quit her job and became an entrepreneur.

“Last year I turned 30 and realised that i had been in the same environment since university,” Eleanor explains. “I wanted to try out more things.

“So I resigned, took on some short courses [on things like branding, SEO, marketing, sewing]. I started sewing kids’ gifts for income and decided to re-evaluate my life…”

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WHAT IS SHE UP TO NOW?

“These days I write articles and advertising copy, design for the paper and take on various projects as a way to generate income and also to keep the creative juices flowing.”

Wow. I met Eleanor also known as Just Ella Bella (on her blog) in 2014 while being on a job. We were both journalists and were reporting on an education-issue in Uitenhage.

We clicked instantly.  I think it’s because one: she is very friendly and two, we both have curly hair [we both seem to love the wet hair look].

On the same day I told her about my miscarriage and Eleanor revealed she lost a baby too. She was really open about it. It helps if we are open about things even if it is really heart-breaking to talk about it.

JUST ELLA BELLA

So a few years later, I started blogging [July this year] and met up with Eleanor again, virtually. Her blog teaches moms (or anyone who wants to) how to create things like a monster wallet for your kid.

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Here’s a Q&A I did with Eleanor:

You’re known for blogging about DIY. Since when did you enjoy doing DIY?

This started while I was still a kid. I have always loved making things -from clothes and homes for my dolls to gifts for my family.

I come from a rather creative family (my mom sews, my dad DIY’s everything) so I think it’s genetic in a way.

Tell us about the projects you have done relating to DIY.

I’m all about saving money, so I do gifts and décor. Since becoming a mom I do a lot of things for kids. I have columns on Tums2Tots and MyHeraldLive, sharing the kid-related things.

Where are you from?

I am from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

Tell us about you.

I am a mom to an extremely precocious little boy and wife to a straight laced homicide detective. I’m a bit of the arty farty type so it makes for an interesting mix.

I am a journalist by trade and work as a freelancer. I spend half my week in an office doing newspaper layout and the other half writing articles from home.

I also run the #ECMeetup with my blogging friend Luchae from the blog My Spreadsheet Brain so this keeps me quite busy.

How old is your son?

He is three but is waaay too big for his boots.

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You make your own kids’ clothes like scarves. How did that happen?

I have since closed this side of my freelancing business – I mostly write and organise events things now

How has your journey been?

Some days I want to cry and some days my heart is so full of happiness, it could burst. I have learnt so much about the media industry and about business in the last year. This makes me extremely grateful for that moment I decided that “I needed more”.

Do you make money from your blog?

Off and on, I do sponsored post and do ghost writing for other sites. It’s enough to plow back into the blog like pay for the site but it’s certainly not rated as a steady income at the moment.

What has been your most popular DIY post?

Funny enough, the most popular was the easiest. I stuck some magnets onto those mini groceries from Checkers and people went crazy for it – how unexpected!

Anything else you would like to say, you’re welcome to.

Find like-minded people. I have business besties and blogging besties (outside of my usual friendship circle). It makes the world of a difference when you can vent to someone who gets it. For someone who has had to wait for payment from clients or had their whole blog post disappear, it will keep you grounded, trust me 🙂

Thank you Eleanor for your time. We enjoyed getting to know you!

If you want to share your small achievements, email melissajavan1@gmail.com.

Entrepreneur interview: Getting to know a food truck owner

I have to confess: I have never eaten any cuisines sold by a food truck. It’s on my bucket list though.

The closest thing to a food truck for me is the ice cream trucks. I hear the ice cream truck’s song in my head now.

Recently, while taking part in the #rsabizblogs blogging challenge by Sam Posselt of the SA Biz Chat tribe, I met Julie George who is a food truck owner. Whoop whoop!

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[All images supplied by Gourmet Girl PE.]
Her gorgeous pink truck also known as The Gourmet Girl PE is seen driven around in Port Elizabeth. Julie sells pancakes with sweet and savoury fillings. Hmmm!

Other delicacies include doughnuts and carrot cakes. Julie says she also does catering.

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Here’s 10 things you should know about this food truck owner:

1. She’s from Johannesburg originally. “I now live in Central in the Heritage district,” she says. “I love it!”
2. This is her third career in her life.  “I started out as a Graphic Designer, did that for about eight years. Then I went into kitchen and bathroom design and did that for 15 years. Two years  ago I went into the food and hospitality business.  However, I have been doing specialty cakes for the past eight years.”

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Julie George, owner of the Gourmet Girl PE.

3. Where did her entrepreneurship journey start? “Well it’s hard to pin point as I have had a couple of businesses in my younger years, so I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart.  Gourmet Girl was started in September 2015.”
4. How did she get hold of the food truck? “I bought the tuk tuk from Klinicare – it was their delivery vehicle. I then had a friend of mine convert it and paint it.”
5. Tell us about maintaining your tuk tuk. “Maintenance is a bit tricky in Port Elizabeth, as there is now only one place that does it. I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is very savvy and has been doing all the necessary maintenance for me.”
6. Does she clean the truck herself? ” Hahaha no! I go to the car wash and have had a young chap looking for work, clean it for me.  I do however clean the serving areas myself every time I use it.”

julie george food
7. The best part of her job is the people she works with, especially the customers. “I love the festive atmosphere at events and always have a good time.”
8.  Her small achievements this year? “Well I’ve had some big (to me anyway) achievements this year, mainly getting my blog up and running.  Winning the #rsabizblogs challenge was a huge achievement for me, and just learning as I go along in this business is an achievement.”

julie george carrot cake
Yummy carrot cakes!

9. Lessons entrepreneurship has taught her: Never give up.  “I’ve learned it’s not all glamour, but extremely hard work. The most important thing I’ve learned is how rewarding it is [to be an entrepreneur].”

10. She joined the SA Biz Chat tribe and says it’s beneficial to belong to a network. “Since coming into the blogging tribe, I am blown away by the camaraderie and friendliness shown by all and the willingness to help one another.  I am very blessed to be a part of it.”

Thank you Julie for giving us the opportunity to get to know you. All the best with your journey ahead!
Connect with Julie AKA Gourmet Girl PE on Facebook or Twitter.

3 Lessons For Budding Entrepreneurs + IAAE entrepreneurs share successes

I am a journalist and a budding entrepreneur. I learnt the term “budding entrepreneur” on Saturday 19 November at the “I Am An Entrepreneur” (IAAE) event held in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Before I share some small successes, I want to tell you what some of the attendees taught me. Firstly, I learned that a “budding entrepreneur” is someone who is on his way to be an entrepreneur. This person might be in a job – employed by someone – but is taking steps to open his or her own business.

For instance, I met two partners who have not registered their business yet. While they are busy researching and implementing things to get their company in business, they have already drawn up a contract.

[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Tip #1: Draw up a contract between you and a business partner, even if your business is not registered yet. Why, you may ask. This contract will for example list the expectations and duties of each one of you.

Tip #2: Networking is the reason to attend these events. I have already mentioned in a previous blog post that many entrepreneurs attend these events to see if they can get clients. Another reason for networking is that you might meet someone that you can have a partnership with.

Lynette Ntuli, founder of IgniteSA, said that one should make time not only to be interested, but also to share something interesting. “You might meet someone that can help you with something you are grappling with (or vice versa).”

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ABOUT THE IAAE

The IAAE was an opportunity for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners (budding entrepreneurs) to engage with successful business owners and funders. One of the hot topics was getting funding and strategies to implement if you do not have capital yet.

The IAAE coincided with the Global Entrepreneurship Week. IAAE organised by My Start Up SA and Ignite SA, was hosted all over South Africa.

SMALL SUCCESSES

For my “Small Successes” series, I interviewed two entrepreneurs about what they regard as small victories this year.

Sonja De Buyn Sebotsa, co-founder of Identity Partners was one of the speakers at the IAAE. She said that one of her small achievements this year was hosting a women’s dinner. “I rarely have the luxury to enjoy my personal cultural interests. I enjoy the arts.”

She explained the dinner was a pre-launch of an art fair. “I had invited artists, curators and exhibitors. Among the guests was Pamela Joyner, the largest collector of black art.”

The event was hosted at a friend of Sonja’s home.

The challenge, Sonja said, was the guest list. “We had to invite the right mix of people. Also, we had to sort out things like accommodation for the foreign artists.”

Sonja said another achievement was that Identity Partners have gone in a partnership with Ethos Private Equity.

Theo Ngobeni, fashion designer and owner of Mr Slimfit, was an attendee at the IAAE event. He said his small victory this year was seeing his baby (business) grow. “From struggling to [becoming] stable.”

He added that last year he had two employers. Ngobeni now has seven people as part of his staff. “The fact that I am employing people is an achievement. They depend on me. I am feeding families… I am feeding seven families this year.”

Well done Sonja and Theo on your achievements!

My Bucket List: The 3 Things I Already Have Ticked Off

Ever felt like time stood still?

I remember my colleagues and I joking one day about how it felt like two hours later the clock said that only 5 minutes passed.

On Thursday 10 November 2016 I had the opportunity to be host for the first time of a Twitter chat. IT WAS AWESOME!

It really felt like time stood still as I was busy chatting to the followers of SA Biz Chat.

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In between scolding my husband for doing things like leaving the house to go to the shop five minutes after the #SABizChat started, I had the opportunity to engage with some bloggers and small business owners of this tribe.

Yes, Husband even had the audacity to ask me where is Princess’ bum cream as he was about to change her nappy. I had asked him for an hour off, because of this chat. Tsk, tsk, tsk 🙂

THE TWITTER CHAT

Anyways, the topic of the evening was “How to write like a journalist”.

I thought it would be cool to volunteer to be a host and suggest this topic. I am a journalist by profession.

Successful entrepreneurs and bloggers have a few things in common with journalists. I keep hearing “be consistent” when I hear entrepreneurs or bloggers give the key to success. This is what we share if we want to succeed at something.

Another thing is being persistent. Doing research and planning are the other things we have in common. So yes, we can learn from each other, even if we use what we learn in different ways.

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Here are things we discussed during my topic:

  1. Who is your target market (reader)?
  2. Who or what are your sources?
  3. What and how do you pitch?
  4. Taking action: research, plan and do interviews or go out on your story
  5. What do you write & checking the facts

MY BUCKET LIST

I have been thinking about how I should probably put up things like this on a Bucket List. Instead of drawing up a bucket list beforehand of things I would like to do, I am just going to make up my list as I go along and achieve small things.

The one thing I do not have ticked off yet is “Do a Live Stream Facebook Chat”.

I have realised that I have learned A LOT in my career, so I would like to share what I know. This is one of the reasons for the Twitter chat. Another thing I can tick off is giving a presentation about “writing as a journalist” to a small group of people. I did this at our blogger meet up on Saturday.

Why don’t I just do a proper bucket list like normal people do, you might ask. Well, I am a scaredy cat – not an adventurous person. So you won’t ever hear me saying that I will jump out of an airplane to do skydiving or jump off anything (bungy jump = no ways).

So thank you to everyone who participated in the #SABizChat on Thursday 10 November. I had a great time. To hear what some of you are busy with, is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

ABOUT SA BIZ CHAT

SA Biz Chat is a network run by Sam Posselt, Tiaan Geel, Chantal Bezuidenhout and Natasha Nathoo. The chat is hosted on Thursday evenings for an hour during 19:00 and 20:00. Every week a topic is discussed. Previous topics include HR 101.

Do you have a bucket list, and what is on it? Also, what would you consider a small achievement you accomplished this year?

My first time as a host of a Twitter chat

I think my love for entrepreneurship started while I was working at a grassroots newspaper.

It was in 2011, the year I also did the part time National Degree in Journalism course. That year was tough. On Tuesday- and Thursday evenings I had to go to class after a long day at work.

I worked on the Cape Flats – which is known as a very dangerous side of Cape Town. Amazingly enough, despite the fact that I probably surrounded by crime, I only once was robbed (of my cell phone).

Why is it amazing? Well, I also walked to stories – to do interviews with people I mean. I walked and made use of public transport. Yes, I was a bit scared of the bad elements or as I would call the “skollies” (gangsters) back then. The thing is, I was just to eager to do journalism. I practically would do anything to just continue doing my job.

While working at The Cape Flats News, I learnt how tough it is to run your business. I was the junior news editor. I had to oversee the freelancers, create and maintain the social media pages.

The Publisher of the newspaper did sales for the business and also had his hand in the layout of newspaper. Our personal assistant had to sell adverts and also helped with the Youth Page or did some graphic design.

At grassroots level publications you learn to do more than one thing. We went to courses and had workshops on how to maintain the newspaper. [Grassroots level newspapers are mainly run by independent publishers.]

My boss (the Publisher) taught me the value of having relationships with your clients – them taking care of you and vice versa. I later learned that despite the tough economic climate, some the clients still offered to help us financially by buying adverts.

That office was like my second home and it broke my heart when we got retrenched.

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Anyway, so this past few months I have joined a blogger- and small business owners’ network called the SA Biz Chat. On Thursday evenings for an hour from 7pm, there is the #SABizChat on Twitter. There’s a different topic for each chat.

On 27 October 2016, for instance, the topic was Human Resources 101. We chatted with a Human Resources Manager about things like “What is an employee file” to “What is interview guides”. Questions like “What do you need when you start hiring employees” were asked.

While this chat was live, I checked out another chat of a network called She Leads Africa. This initiative tells stories of African women who are successful entrepreneurs, and it also gives advice on how to better your business. Their chat #SheHiveJoburg was an interview with a South African entrepreneur, Thokozile Mangwiro. This founder of hair care company Nilotiqa spoke about how her business started and how research played an important role to get and keep clients.

She said: “Primary research is engaging with potential customers. Research can [also] be observing what a potential customer struggles with.”

These Twitter chats are live and gave me an opportunity to engage with these people, ask them questions and get answers.

I love listening to stories, especially those of entrepreneurs. This is probably why journalism is a great job for me. I get to learn a lot from people and the research I do.

So, on Thursday 10 November 2016 I will be a host of the SA Biz Chat. My topic to bloggers and small business owners will be “Writing like a Journalist”. I signed up, thinking this might be a cool thing to do. You know, like those people talking about ticking off things on their bucket list. Well, I am making up my bucket list as I go along.

Yes I am nervous, but also excited to do this. The last time I spoke in front of people – I think – was probably while I was working at Cape Flats News. I remember talking to high school children about my career and I even taught youngsters about doing citizen-journalism.

This is it.

Thank you to the Cape Flats News team that planted a seed. I also appreciate all the entrepreneurs and senior journalists who taught me amazing things along the way. Tomorrow night it will be my turn to teach. I can’t wait 🙂

3 Things I learned from entrepreneurs as a journalist

I married an entrepreneur. My parents are entrepreneurs. I want to be an entrepreneur [I’m in no hurry though].
Let me explain: my mother used to be a housewife. Eventually she found ways to get an extra income for our household. She used to go to factory shops and buy pantyhose and sell it. She used to drive children to school or pre-primary school too. Nowadays she is a caterer. She enjoys baking and cooking, creating dishes. Sometimes people she knows occasionally ask her to bake a birthday cake. My father helps my mother with her business.
Anyway, my husband is a music composer – runs his own business.
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I have a full-time job in journalism. Currently I work for a company where I get to write positive news about South Africa. I get to write about people doing inspiring things.
Anyway, because I appreciate entrepreneurship so much I enjoy going to events where I get to meet small business owners and pick their brains a bit. Most times I get a story for work out of it.
HOW THEY INSPIRE ME?
I met a woman recently who said she quit her job in September last year. She was pregnant at the time and her emotions working overtime kind of pushed her to take the leap. She is now a small business owner. When I told her I want to have my own business some day too, she said: “Don’t worry about when it happens – you will know when the time is right.”
She also told me that she realised that whenever she was employed by a new job, her clients would follow her. How amazing is that? That people trust and love your hard work.
Let’s talk about hard work. This is apparently something entrepreneurs know how to do.
I have learned over the past few months how entrepreneurs are such a great species for our society. For instance, Mike Anderson of the National Small Business Chamber says entrepreneurs go from being zero to heroes …then back to zero and later a hero again. Back and forth.
And you know what? Most of the entrepreneurs who I have met, despite them failing so many times or if their businesses go through dips, they always seem in a positive mood. They smile. They talk passionate about how they do things. They want to teach you.
Great species I tell you.
Before I continue, let me share a quote with you: “There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” – Jason Fried, founder of 37signal.
Here’s another one (which is in line with entrepreneurs’ drive to not give up easily: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki, founder of AllTop.
Okay so what have I learned from entrepreneurs?
I went to the Women in Manufacturing Conference, and the MTN Digital Entrepreneur Masterclass in one week. Two different events in Johannesburg.
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Partnerships, networking and getting new clients.

That’s basically in a nutshell what I learned entrepreneurs look for when they attend industry events. I normally attend events to learn as much as I can about certain things like how to advertise or tell your story on social media.
I also enjoy getting statistics or learning trends, especially when it comes to how businesspeople do it.
I go to these events as a journalist, and I enjoy listening to small business owners’ stories.
It is good to learn on how to improve certain things about your business, like your business’ social media profile. The main thing about going to an industry event is to meet new people and to make connections.
NETWORKING, PARTNERSHIPS & GETTING NEW CLIENTS
Rashmee Ragaven from the Department: Trade and Industry for example said that sometimes you meet someone who knows a person that you have been trying to connect with.
Another businessman told me he goes to these events to get new clients. It’s where you can do you elevator pitches and get contact details of a possible investor or mentor or partner. The same entrepreneur told me that one aspect of his company is partnering with bigger business and sell their products. This way he is also part of their database – he gets to meet new clients or those looking for someone in his expertise, will look onto that business’ database (and possibly find him).
I also learned that talking to entrepreneurs and investors that you learn to tell your story a better way. When networking, it’s good to say things out loud that you have on your mind. You ask questions and people help you to get an answer.
I hope you found this helpful. I wrote the above piece as part of the 7-Day Challenge of Sam Posselt. Sam is the co-founder of SA Biz Chat. Today is the second prompt [Day 2] which asks us bloggers to write about what we do.
Thank you for being part of my journey.