I was born in Zimbabwe to South African parents who went there to make their fortune. In 1961 my father was diagnosed with a brain tumour and we went back to South Africa and settled in Pietermaritzurg, where my Dad died later that year. I was placed in a foster home to finish Standard 5 while my mother found work in Durban. A few years later she re married. I attended Russel High School in Pietermaritzburg, and matriculated in 1967. My first job was with an attorney. I started work on the day I left school, and have worked ever since. I met Allan, a fridge mechanic, in 1971. We married in 1972 when I was working as a secretary with JBS and then for a Shipping company in Durban. When I fell pregnant with Richard in 1976, I was fired from my job. Luci was born in 1978, and in 1979 we opened our first shop. It was as big as a large bathroom. We put all the goods outside and started our first cookery school inside the shop. Fast forward to 2013. Today we have seven branches in KZN, five in Gauteng and one in the Cape. We also own five concept stores in the three regions and plan on opening more stores in the Cape and Gauteng before heading into the rest of Africa
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.
I am a wife, mother and grandmother, Chief Operations Officer of Hirsch’s and a champion of women’s empowerment, and someone who firmly believes in giving back to the community, especially to people in a less fortunate situation, having been there once myself. Having had to battle from an early age, I found that it is possible, through sheer determination and a positive attitude, to get ahead and now all Hirsch’s staff members are encouraged to better themselves and are shown that by uplifting themselves they will ultimately uplift those around them. I regard myself as a “jack of all trades”, having done the selling, invoicing, demonstrating, being a delivery person on the trucks, installing and demonstrating in customers’ homes and generally taking care of everything at Hirsch’s for the past 34 years.
You are busy with so many interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.
One of my projects for the year ahead is to take the Girls With Dignity Projects to underprivileged school girls throughout South Africa. As BWSA’s Business Woman Of The Year (Entrepreneur) I took on this project when I learnt that post pubescent girls in underprivileged areas around the country (and throughout Africa) were not attending school for a week every month when they had their periods. These girls are missing out on three months of their education every year. I realised that it was something that had to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. I give motivational talks to the girls and distribute the the “Girls with dignity” pad pack, made by entrepreneur, Sue Barnes to the girls.
What is it that you are passionate about?
I am passionate about growing ordinary people to make them extraordinary.
Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My husband has been the biggest influence in my life because he has been the wind beneath my wings and supported me in everything that I do.
What is your personal “motto”?
My personal motto is, that you can do anything you want in your life if you believe you can.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Think big. It’s easier to think big than it is to think small.
What are your top 3 tips for women entrepreneurs?
- Look after your health. Your wealth is no good if you are not healthy
- You can have anything you want in life if you are willing to pay the price
- If you can’t afford it, don’t have it.
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
My Staff is my inspiration because they give me the platform to grow ordinary human beings into extraordinary people.
Your favourite daily affirmation?
Vibrant health and vitality is surging through my body.
Your favourite quote:
You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you drive your life any, which way you choose, you are who you are and you know what you know. You are the one who decides where you will go ~ Dr Suess.
Which book are you reading now?
My workbook for my studies at UNISA. I write exams in May and I have to study, study, study.
Which book can you read over and over again?
A course in Miracles.
One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share?
Never listen to anybody who tells you, you can’t do it. You know you can so just get on with it.