The Wonder Woman of the South Coast

Women’s month is about commemorating, celebrating and showing appreciation for those 20 000 women who marched to the Union buildings on the 9th August 1956, to demand the change that years later, would still be the keystone that women nationwide would stand tall on.

This Women’s Month we take a closer look at some highly accomplished women who proudly run their businesses from the South Coast.

We interviewed four of these wonderful women and this is what they had to say:

Claudette Juanita (CJ) – Owner of Lavender Hills B&B

Claudette Juanita is the passionate owner of Lavender Hills Bread and Breakfast. She was a diligent nurse for many years before she sought to create a home away from home for those looking to feel comfortable during their travels. Here’s what she had to say during the interview:

Interviewer: “What do you have going on currently?”

Claudette: “I’ve cut down the hours my staff work due to COVID-19. One staff member now works 4 hours instead of 8, and the other lady who helps me comes in every day for 4 hours. You just have to do what you can to keep things going.”

Interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?”

Claudette “I think fully retired! This is my last stint at the business, and I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. There’s still one or two things that I’d like to do, but I’ve reached the goals I’d set for myself.”

Interviewer: “What would you say is your greatest success to date?”

Claudette: “My greatest success is Lavender Hill and running the B&B. I left my nursing profession for ten years, and then I felt I needed to do something because I have a passion for people. I started up Lavender Hill, and it’s been amazing. And of course, the fact that I studied later in life. I studied to become a general registered nurse after having my kids.”

Interviewer: “What was your vision when you started your own business?”

Claudette: “My vision was to make a home away from home for the corporate clients. In the ten years that I was home, I travelled a lot. My brother was ill in the Eastern Cape, and we (her family) were put up in B&B’s. We were never happy.”

“I thought I would do it better and I would do what any guest wants – they want what they have at home, if not better. That was my vision, and I’ve accomplished it.”

Interviewer: “What drives your passion?”

Claudette: “I’m a people’s person. I’m empathetic, I’m a Gemini and I love people. I love the service industry. Hence, I come from a nursing background, I’ve always wanted to be in the service industry – from childhood. I do it for the passion, you cannot open a B&B and not have a passion for people. I instil this in my staff every day. I tell them it’s the passion. You’ve got to show it and people must see it. That’s what I believe I have achieved.”

“I remember when I was working at a mission hospital and a guest had come from abroad. They were walking with the superintendent. They asked me why I always have a smile on my face, what makes me so happy to be here? And I told them – it’s my passion. My passion for people and my passion for the service industry.

“Standards have altered so much; people don’t care anymore. Once you lose your passion, you might as well call it a day.”

“Something has got to drive you. I remember my father being in a government hospital and when I tried to tell them there was no wheel on the bed and he was going to fall, they laughed at me while sitting in the office for coffee and tea. My tutor said to me at the late age of forty that I should remember that when I’m a nursing sister, to never do that. I knew that without her having to tell me. Something will make you want to make a difference.”

Interviewer: “If you could give any piece of advice to young women, what would it be?”

Claudette: “Be yourself. Don’t try to fit into society’s box and do what you love. If you do what you love with passion, then you’ll succeed. Don’t do it because society expects you to do it. You’ve got to do what you love, irrespective. Then you’ll be away! I can tell you, by the way, owning your own business – but if you have the passion and you set yourself goals, it doesn’t matter. We’ve had patrons that will wake up at 4am, asking if they can have a packed lunch by 4am before they leave for work at 5am. I said, “no problem.”  Nothing should be an effort. Do what you love, do it with passion and don’t let society put you in a box.”

Leka Reddy – B-Cubed Guest House

In this interview, Leka Reddy tells us how she’s self-driven in her belief of achieving something greater for herself. She hopes to continue growing and expanding her business ensuring that her goals are reached and even surpassed.

Interviewer: “What do you have going on currently?”

Leka: “We have a guest house and a restaurant. Our restaurant is closed at the moment due to COVID. Our guesthouse is providing essential accommodation to travel guests only.”

“We are anticipating the re-opening of our restaurant on the 1st of October if everything goes to plan and when the number of COVID patients has decreased. We plan to open as we were before, which will be more convenient for everyone.”

Interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?”

Leka: “We would like to open restaurants outlets throughout the country, because our food is great and it’s different. As for the guest house, we have a small function venue and we plan to expand on that.”

Interviewer: “What would you say is your greatest success to date?”

Leka: “My greatest success is my kids. I’m at my eldest son’s newly purchased apartment in Johannesburg to help him set everything up. It’s quite an achievement and that’s why I say my kids are my biggest success. I have two sons, my oldest son is 22 and my youngest is 10.”

Interviewer: “What was your vision when you started your own business?”

Leka “My vision was to expand on the massive property I owned, it’s near the beach, so it’s a beautiful place which also joins the nature reserve, so we wanted to showcase all of that.”

Interviewer: “What drives your passion?”

Leka: “I would say I’m hyperactive by nature! I can’t sit and do nothing. Just to keep things going. My biggest driving force I would say is to achieve greater things. I grew up in a very humble home, and I knew I could do better for myself as an individual. So, I basically drive myself.”

Interviewer: “If you could give any piece of advice to young women, what would it be?”

Leka: “Don’t stop, carry on moving. Don’t stop, don’t look back, just forward. Just carry on.”

Mandy Dutton – Palm Beach Chalets

Mandy describes herself as a people’s person with a passion to educate people wherever she has the opportunity to. She is driven by the want to enrich the lives of those around her and supply her guests with more than just a holiday experience – she is determined to go the extra mile for everyone.

Interviewer: “What do you have going on currently?”

Mandy: “We’re a self-catering establishment. We have 3 chalets that we constantly publish specials for, we’re marketing a special at the moment for the opportunity for one family to rent all 3 chalets for exclusive use of the establishment. There are discounts given depending on the length of the stay.”

Interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?”

Mandy: “That’s a long time! It’s hard for me to answer this question, because if you’d asked me before COVID my answer would be very different. I still would be running Palm Beach Chalets, maybe expanding, growing bigger. But pretty much still here.”

Interviewer: “What would you say is your greatest success to date?”

Mandy: “I’ve trained so many people around Africa both locally and internationally traveling around Africa. Then again, also setting up my own company Palm Beach Chalets – that would probably be a big achievement.”

Interviewer: “What was your vision when you started your own business?”

Mandy: “I came from a corporate background, and I suddenly realised no-one is invincible. Looking at what’s happening now, my old company is having to retrench everybody. I wanted to be independent. I wanted to be unique. A unique self-catering establishment to stand out – we’re small, and we’re exclusive. I envisioned getting it going and going from strength to strength.”

Interviewer: “What drives your passion?”

Mandy: “People! Training people, educating people. I’ve always been a people’s person because I come from an IT training and IT implementation background. It’s making life better for other people, not just going away on a holiday – it’s going the extra bit further. For me, emphasising knowledge and education unto whoever I come into contact with. That gives me a great sense of achievement.”

Interviewer: “If you could give any piece of advice to young women, what would it be?”

Mandy: “Never ever give up. Never give up. My motto has always been ‘I can, and I will’, if at first you don’t succeed try again. Keep trying, you have to. You have to believe, if you’re just going to give up very easily you should try to look at things from outside the box instead of the norm. It’s sheer hard work, but don’t give up.”

Phumzile Mbambo – Stages Restaurant and Lounge

Phumzile Mbambo is a spiritually in touch entrepreneur who has achieved her goals through hard work and self-actualisation. She speaks on the companies she is currently growing, and how she has learnt so much from running Stages Restaurant and Lounge.

Interviewer: “What do you have going on currently?”

Phumzile: “Uzuri Training Solutions, a newly formed training company focused on organisational development & leadership training, especially in turbulent times. Stages Restaurant is still operational but only caters for pre-booked groups of less than 50 guests for now. I am still a shareholder in Caltex Umtentweni Service Station but in the process of selling my shareholding.”

Interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in another 10 years?”

Phumzile: “In 10 years’ time, I see myself more entrenched in the training sector with Uzuri Training Solutions.”

Interviewer: “What would you say is your greatest success to date?”

Phumzile: “It’s difficult to pinpoint to one great success because I have been favoured with some measure of grace & success in my spiritual life, business life, personal life, etc.”

“In my business life, my greatest success to date is Stages Restaurant that has been in operation for 8 years. Its operation has allowed us to build great networks across all social groups, has helped us to amass knowledge that we did not have prior to starting the operation, it has been an empowerment vehicle for some young people. Running that business has enabled me to learn & continue to learn some hard, character-building lessons that one will use in future business endeavours.”

Interviewer: “What was your vision when you started your own business?”

Phumzile: “My vision was more about self-actualisation, realizing or fulfilling my talents and potentialities. I love beautiful, tranquil places that people can use to connect, unwind & celebrate whatever needs to be celebrated and Stages Restaurant, with it’s beautiful location, became just that.”

Interviewer: “What drives your passion?”

Phumzile: “My passion is driven by the kind of life that I have envisioned for my older life, twilight years (God willing). I am able to continue to work hard even when I sometimes do not feel like it, because I have envisioned a life where I can be able to live comfortably – with less regrets. Being able to travel and spend more time with family. MOREOVER, to know that someone was able to benefit from my work and was inspired by my hustle.”

Interviewer: “If you could give any piece of advice to young women, what would it be?”

Phumzile: “I know it may sound like a cliché – but believing in oneself and one’s abilities is the advice that I can give to young women. If a vision-carrier doubts themselves and their capabilities, it will be difficult for them to see that vision to fruition. Prayer and hard work are also vital elements of success.”

Not only is Women’s month a commemoration of the brave acts of thousands of women, but the continual empowerment of those women like Claudette, Mandy, Leka and Phumzile who continue to push the boundaries of undue limitations or perceptions, that are often hindering.

The South Coast is proud to be home to these four Wonder Women and many more like them.

#womensmonth #southcoast #womenempowerment #womeninbusiness #womensupportingwomen