Search

You don't have to play by their rules.

Previous job(s):

  • Article clerk at a large commercial law firm
  • Internship and study programme in London (working at Barclays)
  • Karate instructor at the Samurai Dojo in Claremont (2006-2012)
  • Entrepreneur, starting first business at the age of 12, making and selling boards for people to surf sand dunes; in my second year of varsity, I started my own karate school, and a small nutrition business.

 

How did you obtain your current position?

I came back from London in March 2014 with a love for outrageous socks and a desire to build social entrepreneurship as a viable business alternative in South Africa.  I remember one particularly cold, wet weekend in June 2014. I was lying on my bed, catching a snooze, when the doorbell went. At the door was a homeless man, drenched to the bone and shivering.  All he wanted was some food. I brought him in and gave him a dry set of clothes.  It made me realise that this man was certainly not the only one in these circumstances.  I gave it some thought, did some research, and considered my initial disappointment with the lack of decent socks in Cape Town. Put all that together - and add the realisation that there are a significant number of school children who go to school in the middle of winter without socks on their feet - and I spotted an opportunity to marry my two desires.  That is how Sexy Socks was born.  For every pair of socks we sell, we give a pair of school socks to a child in need.  Five months later, we went live.  Here we are, a year since we started Sexy Socks, and we have warmed the toes of almost 2 000 school children in South Africa.  Warm toes all round.

In what way does your qualification relate to your work, whether directly or indirectly?

My qualifications have shaped my thinking and given me exposure to, and experience of, a phenomenally wide group of people.  Business science built on my desire to start a company, and law refined my thinking and gave me a clearer approach to problems.

What are the key skills that have contributed to your success thus far?

Persistence, hard work, and the willingness to listen to advice and feedback from those around me.

What are your day-to-day activities?

My day-to-day activities vary quite drastically.  During the week, I tend to get up between 5-5.30am and do exercise until about 7.  I then go to work until about 7pm, and start working on Sexy Socks around 8pm. My evening activities could include packing orders, drawing up invoices, responding to emails, working on marketing campaigns, researching new outlets, meeting with my team, or crunching numbers.  On Saturdays, I normally dedicate the day to trying to interact with our customers.  I either sell at a market or spend the day in various stores that stock our socks.  Sundays tend to be my admin days. I focus on the bigger projects which I did not have time to do during the week, and try to tie up all of the loose ends.

What are the best and most challenging parts of your job?

The excitement of starting something and watching it grow and transform from a simple idea into a reality that genuinely makes a difference in the lives of people is definitely the best part.  Over the past two weeks, we have given away almost 2 000 pairs of school socks (as part of our mission to give a pair away for every pair we sell) and that has definitely been one of the best and most incredible and moving experiences of my life.  On our second Sock Drop this year, we went to a school called Marconi Beam in the Joe Slovo Settlement, and gave out 1 472 pairs of socks - one to each child there.  The sound of their singing, and the excitement on their faces made every hour I have invested in this business worthwhile.  The challenges?  Every aspect is a challenge.  That is what makes it so exciting! 

How did your extra-curricular involvement while at UCT add value (transferable skills) to what you offer the world of work/your degree?

They taught me the value of time management. I don't think there is a more valuable skill to learn.  While at UCT, I was involved extensively in training, teaching and competing in karate, as well as being involved in RAG, CLASI and numerous other societies.  The busier you are, the more you get done and the more you can achieve, and the ability to manage your time and prioritise are vital in the life of an entrepreneur.

How best should students use their time at university to give themselves a competitive edge in your field?

Get involved in as many different activities as possible. Try things that you would never normally try. Open your eyes to all of the opportunities around you.  Step out of the space in which you are comfortable, and be prepared to try new things.  Pick yourself up when things don't go to plan, and deal with it when you fail.  Because you will fail. Over and over again.

In retrospect, what advice can you give to students about how to approach their own career development journeys?

Do what excites you.  I know it sounds clichéd, but your job is what you will do for 75% of your life.  If you don't get excited - and I mean really excited - over what you are doing most of the time, you are in the wrong field.

Do you have any advice for a new graduate entering the world of work?

You don't have to play by their rules. You can break the mould and go your own way. All you need is an impressive work ethic and a healthy dose of self-belief. Because, let's be honest, if you don't believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

What are your top 3 tips that make for a good and prosperous entrepreneur?

Persistence and positivity, hard work, and the ability to respond quickly to change.

What are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

When you start a business, it is all new and it is all challenging. I still don't know that much about building a brand or running a business. I know very little about marketing, and I am still learning the basics involved in targeting the right audience with advertising.  I go with my gut and try to listen to advice offered by those with more experience. The only way to overcome them is to keep trying. And it is only through the persistence of picking yourself up and putting yourself out there again that you will find your groove and find what really excites you.