Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs Vanessa Jansen

Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs: Vanessa Jansen

Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs Vanessa JansenWelcome to Matoyana’s series on celebrating South African entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Here we chat to the diversely skilled Vanessa Jansen.

What do you do?

I am a TV professional with a background in fashion. I run two businesses; one in each field. Afroccentrique is my baby; an idea born 10 years ago. I am the owner, designer, seamstress, salesperson and marketer. The AV Text Lab is a vehicle to share and provide resources in TV at entry and professional level. I provide TV professional services like writing and content development as well as train, mentor and consult.

Why do you do what you do? 

Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs Vanessa JansenI have always loved clothing and was designing and making clothes when I was kid. I also had a deep fascination for TV when it was first introduced. I accidently got into TV but was very happy to stay as TV, for me, presents a unique opportunity to influence thinking around national identity and to tackle some of our social ills. After 21 years in TV, the calling to use my fashion background just became too strong and the vision of an African print range that could be worn anywhere by anyone was compelling. I am happy it did because now I get to work in two fields that I am very passionate about.

How would you describe yourself? 

Driven, hard-working, passionate. I am very bubbly but can be very serious and focused especially when it comes to work. I love learning and being exposed to new things. I am an innovator, a perfectionist and creative.

What do you love about being an entrepreneur and having your own businesses?

Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs Vanessa JansenDespite the challenges and hard times, there are many things that make running my own business worthwhile. High on that list would be interacting with customers, especially at markets. The markets themselves are mostly relaxed, outdoor family events with a broad mix of locals and international visitors that make them interesting and enjoyable spaces. Getting brand recognition is also very satisfying as it validates the long, often tedious, hours and tasks behind the scenes. Investing in something that is entirely my idea, driving it, getting results and generating income, no matter how small, is very rewarding.

What’s your biggest work challenge?          

Running a start-up is very demanding. My biggest challenge to date I would say is finding suitable assistance in the business mainly in the form of production. At the moment I do all the sewing myself which means I am spread very thin and can’t focus too much on any one thing.

Please share your favourite quote with us:

Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs Vanessa JansenI keep a few handy! They change as I find new ones that resonate. When I find one, I will use it as a screensaver on my phone. The current one is: “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world; not even your troubles” a quote by Charlie Chaplin.

Who has been your biggest inspiration / s? 

From a business perspective Richard Branson’s journey and attitude have been a key source of inspiration. Having started from nowhere with nothing he managed to overcome many challenges and failures to be one of the biggest business people on the planet today.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Ideally with a business (or two) that is successful and stable. I would love to get my products in stores nationwide or even own a chain of stores myself. I would love to have a business that creates jobs and has a positive impact on the people of South Africa. I would also love to go back to school to learn more that could help me and my businesses grow.

Celebrating South African Entrepreneurs Vanessa JansenWhat are you doing on Valentine’s Day? 🙂 

Hopefully working! I haven’t been successful in love, so these days Valentine’s is a Sales & Marketing opportunity rather than a social event.

What’s your greatest hope for South Africa?

I pray that our country raises out of the quagmire of corruption and greed and that our government really invests in a growth plan for the country that includes better access to education and better access to capital and markets for entrepreneurs. I truly believe that this country can be more than a nation of labourers if education and business are central to everything that we do. 

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