by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
The journey of building my own business empire has been many things, including amazing, challenging, surprising and painful. Luckily, God is kind enough not to allow these experiences to happen at the very same time. Instead, they are spread across time. I believe this is the 5th year this year. Halfway to a decade, imagine! I think I should one day sit down and write all the major events that have happened during the building of my business, Roka Roko, and look at them as an audience rather than as the main character involved. Maybe I might cry from the sheer multitude of what small actions eventually add up to on this entrepreneurial journey.
Hard work pays off, so they say! I learned this to be true in Matric in 2003. I was and probably still am a diligent student; absolutely disciplined in my education knowing very well what outcome I wanted at the end of that year. I recall how I strained myself for the preliminary exams, I was advised to work hard in preparation so as to make the actual ones easy. They were right. I killed my prelim exams. By the time the real ones came I literally strolled through them. It was like the proverbial walk in the park. I realized early on that most of the real exams were either a repetition of the prelims or another angle of the same questions posed. Well…with my photographic memory…
This behaviour of working hard in the spirit of achieving end of year results was tested in my tertiary education years. Lets be specific and call the culprit…THE UNIVERSITY OF WITWATERSRAND. My goodness! The first challenge was merely understanding the Wits English exam paper. Then applying the English to the subject at hand. Yeah..that took a while. The other challenge for me while studying at Wits was that the desired end result was to be found beyond Wits. I wanted to go to fashion school. And Wits was the mountain in between. In the end, the same formula was needed to avoid exclusion; so as to leave Wits successful and with the ability to proceed to Fashion, the ultimate dream!
The next step in my career was the world of corporate. I sometimes think I was in a haze or stance while working in corporate. I was there to gather information for when I finally decided to be a CEO myself; and I really didn’t care much about anything else. I did the hardest work of my life while I was an employee; in both the companies I worked for. I worked as though this was my meaning for life; which in a twisted way it was. I needed these jobs to pay for Fashion school, therefore being able to eventually reach my dream.
In the world of entrepreneurship, again hard work pays off. The struggle in our economy is we want our hard work to pay off faster. You know, I want to create a masterpiece of a dress and be in VOGUE tomorrow! The most challenging part of this approach is having the patience to wait. Waiting through the tough times, waiting through the limited resources, waiting through the difficult clients, waiting whilst dealing with challenging landlords, etc. A similar line I learned while in self development class was ‘trust the journey’. Translated, what this line actually says is ‘have the strength to keep going without seeing any results of your efforts’.
There is a bigger picture forming that you and your brain cells cannot fathom. This is my comfort. That if God showed me where I am going, I would just faint and go numb. For I would not be able to understand how to get there. It is in the small things we do each day that we are to see the BIG picture.
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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