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Your career is always shaped by experiences. As you grow, you gain self-confidence to venture out and do different things – while bearing in mind that you have to earn a living to survive, of course. Vanessa Gounden always dreamt of being her own boss…

Now she’s CEO of the HolGoun Group with a vast portfolio of investments (we’re talking mining, healthcare, financial services and luxury fashion). She’s also the creative head of her own fashion label, Vanessa Gounden. Vanessa is passionate about sustainable empowerment of people through positive reinforcements.

So, how did she get to where she is now?

Hard work, perseverance, dedication and luck have come in handy with shaping Vanesa’s career. “Fashion, compared to all the other businesses I manage, is the most difficult, temperamental and fickle sector. Any young person must read widely to be knowledgeable about the sector in order to make informed decisions,” she says.

Practical steps to get into the fashion industry

The fashion industry in South Africa is small, but there are a few internship programmes that can be accessed via the CTFL SETA (Clothing, Textiles, Footwear and Leather Sector Education and Training Authority). “My atelier in Cape Town, the production house that manufactures all my designs, will also be taking interns in 2020 in the manufacturing sector to train seamstresses, pattern makers, cutters and graphic designers,” says Vanessa.

Check out these online resources…

LISOF (Leaders in Fashion Education) is a good resource base to help people get into the fashion sector.

The problem with stereotypes…

“Women experience difficulty in any sector. The number of successful women in all sectors speak to the generic problem and that is breaking the stereotype of women and their roles in society. This is no difference in the fashion sector,” she says.

But the future is female

“Women enter the work environment with insecurities, prejudices and personal challenges shaped by their family values, peers and societal norms. Female leaders need to consciously address the issues of competency,” she says.

Vanessa believes it’s important that mentorship becomes a necessary skill, that all managers encourage it for their staff. “Women leaders and entrepreneurs are nurturers and we need to use this skill for the benefit of businesses,” she says.

Reading is really, really important

Reading is an essential part of growth – and it’s ongoing. “There is no single book that shapes leaders and entrepreneurs. I will however recommend that people read the book Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari,” she says.

Self-care is key

For Vanessa, making time for herself is a conscious effort, an essential ingredient for her sense of wellness. “We so often get caught up in the corporate mayhem to succeed that we end up with fatigue and an inability to give our best. Making time for oneself is essential to lead a balanced lifestyle,” she says.

Connect with Vanessa

Want to know more about being an entrepreneur? Get in touch with Vanessa. Email: [email protected]

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