Welcome to FJ's special feature on local women-owned businesses! We are thrilled to have joined hands with some inspirational brands and we are so excited to share their stories with you.
- What is the name of your business and how long has it been around?
Imibongo kam\Makhulu Dolls and it's been around since November 2018.
- How did the idea for your business come about?
When I was pregnant I wanted my daughter to have a cuddly doll to grow up with but the options I saw weren't baby friendly & also weren't like her, they were blue eyed & straight haired, which got me thinking about what message that would give her about herself. I decided I wanted her to know that her black is beautiful, worthy and inspiring. Three years later I fully committed to bringing this vision to life for her & other kids like her.
- Can you provide us with a description of your business?
We're a children's goods brand aimed at increasing diversity and representation through play. With a lot of love and detail we handmake beautiful Brown Heirloom Dolls for boys and girls. We're passionate about finding creative ways of showing up for and shaping these young minds to know their worth, to live and love fearlessly, beginning with themselves.
- Who is the person(s) behind your business and what is your background (ie education, work experience, life experience)?
The founder and owner is Nondumiso Gogela, I'm a 32 year old Eastern Cape born who went to Fashion school in Cpt, worked Retail Management in Jhb for some years and found myself back in Cpt in Retail Buying, so the love for clothing, creating, range building, merchandising and understanding the customer is very strong. I've always been a crafty person, a problem solver with a love for creating and fixing things as a child and at some point was convinced I wanted to be an artist - my parents encouraged me to learn a more tangible skill so I adapted my dreams and fell into fashion. Now I've fallen into business ownership and it's been a beautiful journey, my inner child could not be any more proud.
- Do you have a team behind the scenes or are you a one woman show? If you have a team, please share a little with us about them?
I am a one woman show with a whole tribe behind me in the form of my friends and awesome family that help me keep my sanity and motivate me to keep going and trust myself.
- How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life? How do you balance work and family?
We've had to learn to regularly adjust how we function and make time for each other as a family. Some weeks I'm barely sleeping or taking care of myself but we're believers in routine so some areas have remained minimally affected. I've taken on mindfulness practices to force myself to pause and move my body and sometimes my husband is the person that reminds me to come back to this. To be honest I don't have a definite answer yet, I'm still working on finding balance.
- What motivates you?
Wanting to do better and be better for myself and for my family. I'm extremely determined and self reflective so those two things never let me sit still and give up.
- How do you define success?
Progress. Being in a different and better place today than I was yesterday to me is success. A lot of that is internal too, it's important to check in on how I'm feeling.
- What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There isn't one moment, it's that I get to wake up everyday and do what I love.
- What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The freedom to create the things I want to see for a market I care deeply about, without restrictions. Watching myself grow more confident in this role has also been exciting.
- What are your future aspirations for this business?
The biggest goal is of course increasing visibility of Imibongo Black and Brown Dolls countrywide and possibly world wide and to do that I'm looking forward to buildng a team to work with me on this incredible journey.
- If you had a magic wand, which are the three things you would change in the world?
I'd put more women in leadership, I'd make quality education accessible for all- and I'd replace cars with teleportation cubicles because I hate driving & traffic alike :(