1. What business do you run?
My business is House of Cinnamon, a proudly South African luxury brand offering a limited collection of stylish, handcrafted footwear and unique accessories.
2. Why did you start your own business?
When I returned from Europe, after having lived and worked in finance for a number of years, I was not able to find beautifully designed, affordable, high-quality shoes in South Africa. I had previously tried my hand at designing footwear for fun, so I decided to grow my hobby into a full-time business.
3. What are the hours that you work?
I usually work about 7 hours a day…but find myself dealing with requests, orders and issues, and trouble-shooting at all sorts of times in service of my clients.
4. How many people work in your business?
Presently, there are four women and one man directly involved in the manufacture of Cinnamon footwear.
5. What are the goals of your business?
My main goal is to keep growing the business to become a recognizable and desirable South African brand offering a limited edition of high-end footwear and distinctive accessories.
6. How do you handle the pressure?
As a mother of two children under the age of six, juggling family and work, I have come to be able to manage deadlines and pressure pretty well.
7. How would a man run your business differently?
A man might have been tougher on staff. And in the beginning, possibly more focused on the numbers rather than going with his gut.
8. Would you ever go and work for a boss again?
I would prefer to operate on my own terms, but I wouldn’t rule out working in a team or for an employer, if it was someone I respected, with whom I was compatible and from whom I could learn.
9. Do you ever take work home with you?
Absolutely. All the time. I work from home, home is my office and vice versa.
10. What does a typical working day look like for you?
Once I have completed the family’s morning routine and the school run, I start the day by going through my “to do” list, attempting to tick off as many items as possible. I answer urgent emails, check on the status of current and new orders, discuss admin/action items with my team, liaise with my cobbler, and spend some time on social media. I attempt to stay current and on-trend, by reading up on relevant fashion-related topics and new developments in the digital world.
11. What do you do to relax?
Family time is precious and reenergizing. My husband and I love to go for extended walks with our children and dogs. For relaxation, I do Yoga and TM and go for runs to clear my head.
12. What would you like to know more about to run your business better?
Once you have an established business, it’s natural to want to grow it and make it even more successful. However, there seem to be many options and general recommendations in terms of where to focus one’s attention, when best to take the next step, how to do it, what resources to use etc. I would love some input here and to receive tailor-made suggestions and specific advice.
13. If you had to start again what would you do better knowing what you know now?
If I had to build the same business again, I might test the market more carefully and be less ambitious with regard to the range of footwear I offer initially, cutting down on the multitude of combinations across styles, sizes and materials, and fabrics, avoiding the inevitable stockpiling of items that take longer to sell.
14. Did you have to borrow money and if yes what route did you follow?
No. Luckily, having worked in full-time employment for a number of years, I was able to finance my business from my savings.
15. What satisfaction do you get from running your own business?
I relish the freedom to be creative and innovative. I love the sense of independence that comes with being my own boss and taking responsibility for my own decisions. It’s liberating to not have to clock in and out of a huge corporation. I enjoy the thrill of dreaming up a vision and turning it into a reality. I feel good about having the flexibility to be there for my children when they need and wish….. I welcome the opportunities to work with a great bunch of talented artisans who are so passionate about their craft. I am grateful for the growing number of clients who love the House of Cinnamon products and have remained loyal to the brand over the last few years. I much appreciate the fact that in the growing House of Cinnamon, I meet fascinating people and come into contact with beautiful things every day …
16. What makes your business successful?
At House of Cinnamon, we go out of our way to consistently offer a range of highly desirable products, coupled with excellent, personalized customer service.
17. What form of marketing do you use?
Social Media, Paid advertising, mailers, Social media ads, Press, and, hopefully, word-of-mouth….
18. What is your favorite mantra when things get tough to help you through difficult times?
Tomorrow is another day!