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Career Move

Chantal Lascaris has always been a bit of a serial entrepreneur, having started selling her home-made lip balms at age 13. As a little girl, she wanted to be a fashion designer, so it was a natural career progression to start her own clothing company.

“I never really felt comfortable working for someone else and had always seen myself having my own business,” she says. “So, I took the first opportunity I could to find. I saw a gap in the corporate clothing arena where most corporate clothing looked the same.” She harnessed her sense of fashion and started a factory that designed and manufactured uniforms, mainly servicing hotels in the Middle East and Africa. The result: a style injection in an industry that sorely needed it.

Fast-forward and Chantal was feeling the strain brought on by the continuous travel obligations of the job. “I’d also started experimenting with food, so I sold my business and decided to try something completely new,” she says.

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Taking the leap

Now Chantal writes cookbooks. “The fact that food always interested me made me curious and it was another creative outlet for me,” she says. “It’s a creative process from beginning to end. It starts with the ingredients, deciding on flavour, texture and colour combinations, then it progresses to how the food is actually put together, i.e. is it fresh, roasted, pan fried etc. The most important process is the testing of the recipes. Once finalised, the next exciting aspect is the photography and styling of the food for the books.”

Three things to ask yourself before making a career move

1/ Why do you want to change?

First off, why do you want to change. “My husband was my catalyst – he told me I was always tired and grumpy. Although these weren’t the words I wanted to hear, I realised he was right and that a career change was needed,” she says.

2/ Are you passionate enough to sustain this transition?

Changing careers isn’t easy and you often have to drop a few rungs down and start again. It’s not just changing jobs – it’s an entire environmental shift out of your comfort zone, so you need to ensure you’re ready for it. “Accept that success doesn’t happen overnight and be prepared to work at it and wait for it. You must accept that there will be pitfalls along the way. Most people hate change, but if you’re changing to something you’re interested in, it becomes exciting rather than scary,” she says.

3/ Do you have the energy?

Lastly, you should ask yourself if you’ve got the energy – especially if you’re considering a start-up. In other words, are you fit for this purpose?

READ MORE: How To (Really) Stand Out In A Competitive Market

Be a bit more courageous

“I was quite young when I started my clothing business and in the beginning I felt some reticence from large
companies to take a chance on me,” says Chantal. “But it’s funny how life works – once one company took a chance on me, it no longer became an issue. Other companies could see what I had done and realised that age was no longer important. I haven’t had any regrets, but there were times I wish I was a bit more courageous and pushed myself to do things that are out of my comfort zone.”

4 tips for anyone wanting to make a career change

1/ “Believe in yourself, especially during the tough times.”
2/ “It’s important to trust yourself, listen to your gut and follow your heart because most often they’re telling you the correct thing.”
3/ “Don’t always listen to others – be true to yourself.”
4/ “Remember it’s also about the journey, so enjoy it.”

Leadership lesson learnt along the way…

Make sure you have enough financial advice. “One of the biggest problems I faced in my clothing company was cashflow. If I had sought out and spent the money on a dedicated accountant, I believe I would have had fewer sleepless nights,” she says. Amen to that.

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