If there is an example of an African woman entrepreneur who passionately believes in making her business dreams a reality, despite all the challenges that life throws at her, then Angela van Herzeele is such a woman. Her Angel Rose Trading Company is a testimony to sheer determination, hard work and a great designer’s eye.
This February, as Lionesses of Africa celebrates African Women Designers, we spoke to entrepreneur and designer Angela about her inspirational entrepreneurial journey and her ‘never give up’ attitude to life and business…
Tell us about your company, Angel Rose Trading, and what it does.
I have a little company with many facets to it, including a little vintage/antique shop which I run from home selling vintage furniture, silverware, china, décor items, and soft furnishing products. I also have a range of really interesting and aesthetically beautiful upcycled products made out of coffee bean hessian sacks, and this includes furniture, handbags, and soft furnishings. I also do interior decorating for clients, which goes hand-in-hand with my retail shop. Recently, I have introduced a new element to the range of products that I design and manufacture - this includes body scrubs, hand creams, lotions and soaps.
What inspired you to start your company?
My inspiration came as a result of my personal journey from being a stay-at-home mom to literally being thrown into the deep-end when my hubby lost his business. As a result, I had to be creative and turn my hand to making products to sell in order to keep the wolf from the door! Fortunately, growing up on a farm and watching my mom do all the practical and entrepreneurial things she did, both taught and inspired me - she turned a historical, run-down home into a Bed and Breakfast. I have been fortunate to have had people believing in me and my dreams, but it hasn't always been easy. Realising your dreams and passions, whilst at the same time dealing with reality, can be hard to do - but as I say, pull your big girl panties up and move on!...
What is so unique about the products you design and create?
They are for people who want something different, made by someone who has love, passion and belief in her products. Every piece of my shop is a statement piece, and has its own story to tell.
Tell us a little about your team
I am a one woman band! But I do have wonderful people that I outsource to for various products. We are like a family and, as a result, communication is key, together with building really solid relationships with these people.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My own entrepreneurial startup story has had its ups and downs! I have lost plenty over the years, but gained even more. My story started back in 2002 in my red VW kombi. At the time, I had twins of 9 months old and had a traveling boutique selling the finest branded clothes to the farmers wives in the areas that were too far from civilization to do their clothes shopping. With my precious nanny Fikile at my side, helping me and my kids as I breast fed, I would fill my kombi up and go away for 2 days at a time with my boutique. Over time this business grew and I opened up a shop from my home. I then had my third baby in-between and this is when, unfortunately, disaster struck and we lost everything. But this didn't stop me, instead it made me even more creative and more productive. I stopped selling clothes as by that time we had moved down to Durban and people could get the clothing I used to sell on accounts, so instead I diversified my business. I started buying vintage lampshades and added bling and feathers and fluff to them, taking something old and unloved and making it into a new decor piece to be treasured and spoken about. This line of business expanded, with me moving on to find great pieces of old furniture and giving them a brand new lease of life. Second-hand shops and vintage shops were my absolute best source of materials.
However, there have also been lots of business highs and lows, for example, at one time I have had factories manufacturing thousands of lamp shades for supply to major South African home decor retailers such as Mr Price, Wetherleys, Osiers, Loads of Living, etc, but I lost this business due to bad decisions I made. However, I learned from my mistakes and the experience made me grow so much in other ways, and now I do what I really love. In terms of my entrepreneurial background, I suppose both my parents were in their own ways entrepreneurs and I watched and learned from them growing up.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I am currently looking at opening a decent sized shop and spreading my wings!
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The freedom to be the best businesswoman, mom and wife possible! Also, I love the sourcing of products - it’s like an adrenalin rush!!! I particularly enjoy all the stories that come with meeting new and interesting people. In addition, I get great satisfaction from the passion and enjoyment of what I can give to every customer.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Follow your dreams and passions!! Don't ever be afraid to ask for advice! Be true to your products and be true to your clients! Also, try not to over sell and under deliver, but most of all be real, be honest, and love what you do!! Remember, hard work always pays off.
On a serious note… cash flow is always a hurdle. If you are not a money or figures person, then get the right person to help you, because this can lead to the ruin of many small businesses starting up, and it doesn't have to be the case if done correctly! Personally, I have learned many a lesson in this department.
Visit or follow Angela:
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Page: m.facebook.com/AngelRoseTrading
Why LoA loves it….
At Lionesses of Africa, we love Angela’s never-give-up attitude to her business journey, and she is a shining example of the strength of Africa’s women entrepreneurs to keep going no matter what the challenges or hurdles. She has a real designer’s eye for detail and is producing a range of wonderful products that are not only really beautiful, but also have a unique story to tell. We love that history which comes with every piece produced as part of her collections. Entrepreneurs from across the African continent can learn from her example and be inspired by her story. We think 2015 is going to be a great year for Angela and her company, Angel Rose Trading. --- Melanie Hawken, LoA founder and editor-in-chief