Women

I Turned My Passion Into BUSINESS (Part 1)

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Meet six women who successfully shifted careers.

Tenille Lindeque 30

Description: Tenille Lindeque at Feminine Divine Oriental Belly Dance Studio

Tenille Lindeque at Feminine Divine Oriental Belly Dance Studio

Old job: Aerobics instructor and personal trainer

New job: Founder and principal teacher at Feminine Divine Oriental Belly Dance Studio

www.feminlnedlvine.net

Growing up in Sedgefield, taking part in ballet and modem dancing, I didn't even know belly dancing existed. But after working for a few years as an aerobics teacher, I wanted to try something completely different. From the first class, I was hooked. Belly dancing just felt so liberating, because there was no pressure to mould myself to have the perfect body, which was the emphasis in aerobics. I made peace with my voluptuous curves once and for all. Then the studio where I was teaching aerobics closed down, so at 22, I was jobless. I started teaching exercise classes from home – but everyone who came to me asked for belly dancing lessons instead, as I often incorporated belly dancing moves into my exercise routines.

Because of the rise in demand, I opened up my own dance studio in Cape Town in 2003. It's grown from three die-hard students to over 200 members. It's the best feeling to see new clients arrive as self-conscious women simply looking for some exercise, to women who shimmy their way into loving who they are. I love dancing for a living. What a gift!

Top tip: Give your clients more than they pay for and work towards making them feel part of a community - and remember, you can never use too much glitter!

Kirsten Goss 37

Description: Kirsten Goss

Old Job: Senior Analyst at an investment firm in London

New Job: Founder and owner of Kirsten Goss Jewelry

www.kirstengoss.com

I started off studying economics at Stellenbosch University, but halfway through, I realized it wasn't for me. So I switched over to a four-year fine arts degree. I then left for the UK in          1998 to get experience in the fashion industry, working under the big names in jewelry making.

After a few years, I just wanted to be able to unplug from the industry for a while and get an ordinary job, so that I could travel as much as possible. I'm glad I did that, and when I got the travelling out of my system, I decided to open up a jewelry design studio in Netting Hill in February 2003. I'd saved and borrowed enough money to be able to afford the studio space, the equipment and the materials I needed to start out. I started small and grew the business organically, one step at a time, and very conservatively. I often think of those days when I just used to go to my little studio and make jewelry all day. Now I manage a team and we attract clients from all over the world. We recently scooped the 2011 'Entrepreneur of the year' prize at the SA Business Awards in London - it was such an honor.

Despite the recession, our company has grown every year. What sets us apart is that we don't use machines; all our jewelry is handcrafted by brilliant goldsmiths and clients notice this. We're on a good trajectory, but there is still so much to do, and apart from our London flagship and Joburg stores, we hope to open shops in Hong Kong, New York and Cape Town.

Top tip: Doubt is the greatest obstacle. Don't doubt your dream. And if you want to do it, do it properly and everything else will fall into place.

Jade Woo 37

Description: Jade Woo

Old job: Piano teacher and acupressure therapist

New job: Founder of Om Baba Baby Carriers

www.ombaba.co.za

As a new mom, I couldn't find a baby carrier to suit my needs, so my business started out as a necessity! The carriers I'd bought during my pregnancy in 2008 didn't provide adequate support for my son. Spencer, weren't stylish enough for me to wear, and also became uncomfortable the longer I wore them. I even remember looking for the traditional Chinese type of carrier called a 'mei tai' that I had been carried in as a child, and when I couldn't find what I was looking for, I decided to make one myself.

My first pattern was very basic and needed work, but friends saw my carrier and asked me about it, so I started making ones for them as well, tweaking the pattern and finding more interesting, stylish fabrics as I went along.

Friends told their friends, and it got to the point where it was easier to have a website to answer questions, and I had more orders than I could manage. I realized that my hobby had evolved into a business, which in turn sparked a passion in me that continues to grow.

Om Baba has grown so much that I am able to be a stay-at-home working mom and look after my son, who is now three years old. The business has been doubling each month in the last few months, purely by word of mouth, and has grown from producing 10 mei tais in the first few months to about 600 last year, with orders coming from as far afield as Taiwan and Mauritius. It is the best job in the world and I love the fact that I am able to help other moms improve their experience of motherhood and care for their babies.

Top tip: Persevere! And maintain a very strong commitment to quality and service.

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