What It Takes: Successful Mom-Bosses
Zinhle Jiyane, aka DJ Zinhle, has carved a career path for herself in the house music industry as well as appearing in soapies such as Rhythm City and Imfihlo (The Secret) and presenting Jika Majika. She has also presented an insert on Club Culture.
For four consecutive years she has been both a DJ and speaker at the Southern African Music Conference and was nominated by the Mail & Guardian as one of 300 young South Africans making a difference in their careers whom “you have to take to lunch”.
To empower and nurture talented female DJs, DJ Zinhle partnered with Nomndeni Mdaki to launch the Firm Understanding of Sound Entertainment academy (FUSE) in February 2009. She released an album titled “Feminine Touch” in November that same year, under Kalawa Jazmee Records.
DJ Zinhle is in a relationship with rapper AKA and the couple are expecting their first baby to arrive in July. We spoke to her before the birth.
“Being pregnant has taught me a great deal about juggling motherhood and work,” she said. “I am lucky to be working for myself because that way I can make up my own working hours and conditions. I can already see that having a child is teaching me a lot about sacrifice – things are no longer about me. Everything I do, I have to think of the baby.”
How does she balance a busy schedule? “I am a great planner, that way I can use my time efficiently,”she says. “My life has really only been about work, but with the baby coming, I am learning to prioritise other things.”
She is candid about the pressure of being the boss and handling the demands of staff. Communication is key, she says. “Managing and motivating people is the hardest part about running your own business. I think there will always be a struggle when you are trying to communicate your vision with other people. Growth and success are important for me. I want to employ more people and leave a legacy.”
“Happiness and loving what you do, both at work and at home,” is how she defines success. She adds: “Don’t get me wrong, I still value money but now it’s more about loving what I do, employing more people and building a lasting legacy.”
When it comes to handling the pressures of being a “mom boss”, DJ Zinhle gives this advice: “Do what feels right, create your own formula and make sure you are happy.”
Entrepreneur Angie Batis Durrant’s online bio is overwhelming. She runs the successful blog Lucky Pony as well as co-owning Good Luck Club number 2, running Golden – an online content developing company, working as a freelance art director and space designer and she also runs two other blogs: jobest.co.za and tinypony.co.za. She is also a wife to Shane and proud mother to baby Nina.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, which I guess is always the case when you have never done something before,” says Angie, on being a mom boss. “I’m very lucky in that my husband and I own our own businesses, so me not going in everyday is perfectly alright. It’s awesome being able to be at home with my baby, but I have had to get someone to help me look after her during the day so I can actually get some time to concentrate on work and not smooch her all the time.”
How has having a baby changed her outlook on life? “Well, now the most important person (other than my husband) in my life is my child. Even though before her birth, both Shane and I worked really hard to make sure that whatever we did, we did it well, but I find that now I’m more aware of wanting to be successful at everything we do,” Angie replies. “I want to build something amazing that one day she’ll be able to call her own.”
Angie is honest about the lack of work-life balance: “At the moment it’s all over the place because we have just started two new businesses and we’re still trying to work on a system that allows us to have as much family time as possible.”
We asked Angie what she found to be the most difficult aspect of being the boss: “That sometimes you have to be the boss! Shane and I have always been friends with our staff because we believe in creating a cool working environment, but sometimes people take advantage of that and you have to become harder, which is never pleasant.”
Her goal for the businesses she and Shane run is simple: “With all our businesses we’ve always wanted to create something that is successful, obviously, but also something that is enjoyed and appreciated by as many people as possible.”
We quizzed Angie on her definition of success, both at work and at home. “Work: If you manage to enjoy what you do and never feel like you’re stuck in something that you hate. Home: if you manage to balance your work and family life just right so that work is never ever prioritized over home.”
Angie has some sage advice for other mom bosses: “I love the feeling of knowing that when I’m working my heart out I’m building something awesome for myself and my family and not someone who sits in a corner office on the 18th floor.”
Former beauty editor of Marie Claire turned entrepreneur, Mathahle Stofile is also mother to her stepson, Sikhulule, 12, her son, Zimele, 3½ and daughter, Lima, 6 months. Mathahle heads up beauty consultancy The Matte Project. This project, in her own words, is “about driving conversations about beauty amongst black women. The aim is to share stories, beauty tips and tricks and really to edit down all the product messages we’re bombarded with to make them relevant to black women.”
Mathahle says that working from home has meant she gets to spend more time with her children. “I didn’t realise how much time I actually spent away from them until I started working from home,” she said.
However, starting out with her new business has had its challenges. “It has been very difficult and draining, emotionally and otherwise: the guilt you feel when you have to forgo certain things for your children because you have no idea when the next paycheck is coming in; the self-doubt and the temptation to update your CV and apply for another job; having to split your time between home and work… Luckily I have a great partner, who is also an entrepreneur. He’s my greatest supporter.”
I asked her how she feels her outlook on life has changed as a mother: “I now see how truly dangerous, unfair and ugly the world can be,” she replies. “I also see how beautiful, peaceful and breathtaking it sometimes is. The opportunities are endless. Through my children, I get to see myself as not just a woman, but a mother… a provider and nurturer.”
Mathahle says she is able to maintain a work-life balance thanks to the support she receives from her husband. “We are in an equal partnership, which means we are both responsible for the wellbeing of our children but also for paying the bills at home. When I have to go away for work, he stays home for the kids and vice versa. When one of us wants to go on a night out with friends, the other will stay home with the kids. If we both need ‘time out’ alone together, we are lucky to have great relatives who are happy to babysit. We make it work.”
On being the boss, Mathahle’s outlook is both practical and realistic. “The toughest part is probably making the final decisions and having to live with the consequences. It’s kind of like going from renting a home and owning one. Suddenly you can’t call the landlord to come and fix things – it’s all on you.”
She aspires to change perceptions on beauty for black women through The Matte Project. She explains: “I want us as black women to feel validated in our own spaces, to feel ‘good enough’. I want to make black women more visible in the beauty context so that our daughters grow up knowing that all women can be beautiful. I also strongly want to send the message that beauty is not frivolous, and it has to do with way more than the way you look.”
So how would this go-getter define success? “At home, it would be getting a full night of restful sleep every night. It would also mean a healthy and happy family – so I guess in this regard I am very successful. At work it would be changing perceptions on beauty for black women and in general. Also, financial independence is very important to me, so that I can have more options and choices.”
She adds, “I think success today no longer has a uniform or umbrella definition. Individualism is becoming more and more important to people so I feel like we are all generally paying more attention to what truly fulfills us rather than what is expected of us.”
When it comes to “mom bosses”, Mathahle offers this advice: “Children want happy parents. Do what makes you happy – as long as you are not harming anyone in the process. Choose your battles…you can’t win them all. Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself.”