Tell us a bit about yourself, your career and what you’re busy with right now?
As a graphic designer, I have worked on quite a few different projects for entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses and well-established businesses. After university, I worked as an in-house designer, helping a small business gain the international respect that they deserved for their high-end product. I also shared my love for the arts by teaching photography and design classes part-time to scholars and tertiary students. When we moved to Cape Town, I started out with an agency working on projects with well-known brands. In my free time, I was always open to helping friends and family with their entrepreneurial ideas. I love listening to people’s ideas and being able to help them make them come alive visually. I’ve seen a few reaching great success, that just needed the initial help to look the part!
My husband, Rudo, and I started playing with the idea of Sloom in 2015 and officially established it in 2016. As a team we covered all the basics for a startup, a product we believed in, a well-thought-through business plan and marketing material that “meant business”. It was a slow-growing process, but we started picking up momentum in 2019 and I was able to join Sloom full-time by the beginning of 2020. Since then we have opened our own factory for the base manufacturing in Cape Town, a distribution warehouse in Midrand and acquired our own delivery vehicles for Cape Town and Gauteng to ease the delivery process.
At the moment, I take design lead with the marketing, creative direction, as well as product improvements and also oversee our customer care team. We launched a few new features and a new look to our customisable mattress and pillow at the beginning of August 2022.
What has been your biggest challenge/lesson in business and life, in general?
The hardest part of starting a business is having perseverance when you don’t see returns for your effort. You keep investing time and money, but the sales aren’t there, yet, and you still need to make ends meet at the end of the day. Our support network, who was once very excited with us about our ideas, became smaller and smaller. Until it was only my husband and I left still believing in the idea. And when the moment was right, we took out a loan on my name to invest in marketing. It’s really scary to do when you’re not getting a massive salary. But it served us well – this was when it all started picking up momentum.
In general, I have learned the value of partners that have each other’s backs. Together, my husband and I are so much stronger than on our own. Starting a business is not an easy feat, it becomes very personal and intertwined with your entire life. It’s really an emotional thing. When he needed support, I was there for him, and when I needed to jump ship, he prepared my landing. Through it all, we have to be able to trust each other 100%, even on those rocky days. Nobody else would ever be as invested in our journey as we are, personally and business-wise!
Who is/was your role model?
My role model is most definitely my grandmother. She has a pure and fun-loving character, and her eyes are always set on the positive of any situation, with her faith strongly rooted. She is always ready for a laugh and the next adventure, even at the age of 95. Her soul is lighthearted and forever young. She is filled with a life’s wisdom to share but still always asks questions and learns from those around her. For me, it’s the biggest compliment if someone says I’m a bit like her, even if it’s just a little bit.
As an entrepreneur and business owner, what has been the one piece of advice you have received which you would like to pass on to the person reading this right now?
You can have the absolute best product offering, but without marketing, it won’t get you anywhere! Invest in strategic marketing to reach your target market.
What are you most proud of?
As a small business owner, it’s so hard to choose only one thing.
However, I am incredibly proud of my husband for his exceptional creative thinking to develop Sloom and the various product offerings. It’s been a process, but I can confidently say we have a high-quality product, that is the first and only of its kind in South Africa, and it is 100% made in South Africa.
Secondly, how widely known our brand has become. When I hear someone talking positively about Sloom, out of their own, just because they are so impressed. When we see our name featured as highly recommended on Facebook groups and forums and when our name features alongside the big brands that have been well established for the longest time. Happy customers really make my heart burst with pride!
What is the one thing you know now, which you would tell your 16-year-old self, and why?
To never stop dreaming and to not be scared or shy to pursue those dreams. I am not sure why, but at some point in my youth, I stopped dreaming for myself, and only applied my energy to other people’s dreams. This is something I have to remind myself of regularly, and I have worked this into the mattress as a little easter egg. Behind the label is a little note reminding the reader to “Keep on dreaming”, because I think in our busy lives we often forget to just Keep Dreaming!
Puzzles. Okay fine, let’s be honest, puzzle games on my cellphone. Haha!