3 Local Entrepreneurs from the Bay

  • 27 November 2018 | By Anje Rautenbach

Running a successful business and being your own boss requires a lot of hard work, and while you have to deal with your fair share of obstacles, the upside for most entrepreneurs is that they get to do what they are passionate about.

We checked in with local entrepreneurs from Nelson Mandela Bay and ask them how they got started, what challenges they face, what advice they have for aspiring entrepreneurs and also where they go in the Bay to unwind and relax after a long week of being their own boss.

Have a read what these three Bay boss ladies had to say and tell us which local entrepreneurs inspire you!

The Creative: Zinzi May, Graphic Designer

Photo by Niki M

Who and what is The Stable Studio?

I am Zinzi May and am the founder, Graphic Designer and Art Director of The Stable Studio, a boutique creative agency based at the Donkin Village Creative Quarters in the Nelson Mandela Bay.

I was born in Port Elizabeth and grew up in East London, I was raised by a family of entrepreneurs, my grandad owned a butchery and we grew up hearing stories of his work ethics and social entrepreneurship practice, where every year around Christmas he would gather all the elderly people and give them Christmas parcels. My mother then took in his footstep and opened her own butchery and as time went grew to explore other business ventures. It is in this whole spirit of entrepreneurship that I believe gave my mother the ability to encourage us to become what ever we wanted in our careers, and although I still have to explain what I do for a living I know she supports me 100%.

I discovered my love for art and its social impact when I change subjects in high school from Biology to Art, but it wasn’t until I got university where I studied Interior Architecture that I found out Graphic Design and all the creative avenues I could go into. 

I had always known that I would be an entrepreneur because I’ve always had a vision for where I want grow into, so I studied Graphic design at NMMU (now NMU) and was excited in final year when as part of a module called Professional Practice, we had to come up with a business plan for a creative agency. I started doing commissioned work for people while I was a student and after graduation I was toiling between going fully into doing my own thing or looking for a job, during that time I got called by Port Elizabeth’s large scale advertising agency (Boomtown) to join their Bayeza Incubator programme and took that on to gain experience. It was there where together with a friend and colleague of mine started an initiative called Colours of You SA, in order to break away from the corporate world and create an environment for creatives to express their true colours and celebrate our various cultures thought art and design.

It was through the work we did as Colours of You that we started drawing attention to other agencies around Port Elizabeth, two years into it I was approached to work for a smaller agency (Strategy), I felt compelled to join the smaller team of creatives of 6 at the time because it would give me the opportunity to understand the business of running a creative agency more. 

It was there where I finally landed my 1st retainer client, a digital agency called FullyAlive. In the same year I entered a national competition called Cointreau Creative Crew and made it as South African top 15 and was awarded Facebook Favourite grant entry by the public, this pushed me to kickstart the Stable Studio as an expansion to my work and for the opportunity to impact industry in ways I always believed I could. The name Stable is a direct translation of my name Zinzi, I used this to pay homage to where I come from, The Stable Studio aims to build uniquely South African brands from humble beginnings, giving them a fresh and unexpected new lease on life. 

What is the most rewarding part of running The Stable Studio?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the most amazing clients, being in industry and having your own vision for your career and where you want to go with it can be frustrating when you work for someone. Running The Stable studio has been rewarding for me in the sense that I know I’m in control of my own dreams and most of the clients I’ve working with have trusted me in collaborating with them in building their brands. I’ve been privileged enough to work on brands that I feel have great potential and also seeing clients happy in the results of my work is extremely rewarding for me.


What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Know your brand and be open to constructive criticism, I’ve come across a number of entrepreneurs who want to become entrepreneurs of the sake of what seems to be lavish lifestyle but are really just reinventing the wheel and go into a breakdown when their companies don’t do well. Any product that involves people is never about you but how people receive your product, I once heard that people are loyal to their needs and not your brand, so when you are building something you need to be open to criticism and always have the end user in mind. 

Before starting this business, no one told me…

That you put in a lot more hours when you are working for yourself and that you have to wear all the different hats of you company, getting new work, handling financials and delivering the actual product, basically you need to know your business’ ins and outs in your sleep.


Work-life balance is difficult for entrepreneurs, do you have any advice?

It’s a bit difficult for me to advise on this one, because I don’t think I have it right, but I heard once and this has stuck with me, that as entrepreneurs it’s difficult to draw the line between work and life because even when you are home or with family or friends you are thinking about work, and that we should diarise and mark out times for our selves to rest as we do with work tasks, I also mark out times of when and how I communicate with clients, not liaising after 5pm, on weekends and on WhatsApp helps me to disengage at times and keep a professional relationship with clients.

Where can people find your work?

The Stable Studio's website, click here.

Zinzi's Social Media: 






Let's talk about your love for Nelson Mandela Bay…

Where is your favourite breakfast spot?

Hello It’s Me, also for their beautiful interior design and decor. 


If you have to choose a coffee shop as an office, which one would you go to?

It would have to be between Heritage Cafe or La Boca


Where do you go in Nelson Mandela Bay for a bit of rest and relaxation, to charge your batteries?

I go to any spa really, or a walk / run around St George’s and Settlers Park.


Any sights, places or attractions in the Bay you’d visit over and over again?

Addo Elephant National Park


The Book Worm: Nadine Rose Larter, Book Shop Owner

Who and what is The Littlest Bookshop?

I must be honest, The Littlest Bookshop started on a bit of a whim. For a couple of months I’d been toying with the idea of moving my family to a smaller town and while I was in the beginning stages of that idea I sort of went “Once we’ve moved, wouldn’t it be nice to open that second hand bookshop that I’ve always fantasized about but never worked towards?” and after voicing that idea to my mom and then my friends it kind of snowballed. My mom donated my first bit of stock to me, I raided my own personal library for stock (not gonna lie – that was hard!) and an extraordinarily large number of people donated stock as well. All in a very short space of time. At that point I wasn’t sure I was even going to move yet, but then I just figured that even though the bookshop started out as an “if we move” idea, there was no reason that I couldn’t just have a bookshop in my home. And that’s where I am now. I’m a kind of  weird, somewhat reclusive lady with a bookshop in her house. And it’s a bookshop that you need to make an appointment to visit because I don’t really keep regular hours or anything like that – the shop slots into an already quite busy life. But sometimes we have cookies so the inconvenience is totally worth it.


What is the most rewarding part of running The Littlest Bookshop?

I love books. It kind of starts and ends there. And I’m doing it my way which is odd and makes my husband raise his eyebrows from time to time but I just got to a point where I went “this is what I want it to be like” and I’ve given myself permission to have it the way I want it. That’s satisfying. Knowing that this is mine and I am in control of what it looks like and how it runs. And if I want ten cats to be my co-workers that’s totally my business!

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

When I was starting out I was chatting to a group of people about what I was doing and this guy round-about my age (I think – I’m terrible with guessing age) started going on about how he always wanted to own a bookshop but you obviously need to be exceptionally knowledgeable because otherwise there’s no point in doing it and I could see that he was convinced that he had to be some sort of wizened mage to do this thing. It made me balk for a second, but then I just realized that he was wrong. You don’t have to be any specific thing to go after what you want. I’m a huge book lover, yes, but never in a million years would I call myself well-read or particularly knowledgeable in all things books. But you know what? Every reader who I come into contact can teach me things that I don’t already know. And that’s a beautiful thing. I don’t know everything about books. But I can find out. And I’m not ashamed to admit when I don’t know something. This is my thing. I’m doing my thing. I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be, but in a month I’ll be closer to that goal. In a year even closer. I could have listened to that guy and given up before I even started, and I think in life a lot of us do that. I certainly have in the past. But I’m glad I didn’t. That guy had his own demons to deal with. And that’s something we need to remember: It doesn’t serve us to take on the demons of others. I’m rather going to play with my book fairies instead. 


The biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far…

For me the biggest lesson has been a personal one. As someone who often struggles with exceptionally low self-esteem I have had to acknowledge that in this particular journey the people in my life has given me more confidence than I knew I was capable of. Friends and family member have been so supportive of this crazy idea. And whenever I’m feeling like “oh my gosh what have I done?” I just think of the nice things folks have been saying and I get to tap into that confidence again. It’s a weird lesson, I guess. Learning that you can actually “cheat” confidence. It’s a heck of a lesson to be grateful for though and I truly am.


Work-life balance is difficult for entrepreneurs, do you have any advice?

None. When you figure all this balance stuff out let me know. I am EXACTLY like my father when it comes to “work”. And when I’m busy responding to Facebook Page posts at ten o’clock at night I find myself giggling and going “yeah you used to give Dad so much grief about working too hard and now look at you…” I have to force myself to take a break, but even then I still have to busy my brain with something else because otherwise I’m just working in my head. I am the worst.

Where can people find The Littlest Bookshop?

As I mentioned before, The Littlest Bookshop is currently being run out of my home. We have since decided that we are moving to a smaller town next year and the shop will be moving with us – where it will still be run out of my home. But of course because I am and always will be a die-hard lover of PE and because my mom is my favourite person, I will still be here regularly and will happily keep providing my PE customers with reasonably priced second-hand books. Most of my sales go through my Facebook page anyway and I am using Paxi to courier books all over the country.

Facebook, click here.
Instagram, click here.


Talk to us about your love for Nelson Mandela Bay…

Where is your favourite breakfast spot?

Jack’s Bagels. Their bagels are REAL BAGELS and seriously every time I eat one I get a bit tearful because I have been craving real bagels ever since I lived in New Jersey for a couple of months back in 2001.


If you have to choose a coffee shop as an office, which one would you go to?

Honestly I have never gone to a coffee shop to use it as an office haha! Which ones in town have free wi-fi? I’d go to one of those.


Where do you go in Nelson Mandela Bay for a bit of rest and relaxation, to charge your batteries?

The Plantation. Book one of their rooms for the night and make sure they feed you. Gosh. So relaxing. So tranquil. And that food? Yes please.


Any sights, places or attractions in the Bay you’d visit over and over again?

Kragga Kamma Game Park. Those animals hit me in the feels every single time it doesn’t matter how often I go. 


The Cereal Mom: Lize Fouche, Nutristart

Who and what is NutriStart?

Nutristart is a Breakfast Cereal company based in Port Elizabeth,  started by mom-entrepreneur Lize Fouche. The business came to life in 2013 after the birth of Lize and Stephan’s second daughter Phoebe. “We all have limitations at times, we moved to back to Port Elizabeth after spending 3 years in Cape Town. The girls where small and we lived out on our farm in the Elands river. I did not have the means to travel into town everyday – so the idea of roasting Muesli , was born. I had received an oven as a gift from my dear friend Maranda Engelbrecht for helping her with Babylonstoren Recipe book.  The first recipe for the Granola/Muesli was the original recipe I developed for our family guesthouse Manor 38, situated in Summerstrand. “ says Lize.


What is the most rewarding part of running Nutristart?

Waking up every morning and knowing we have created a healthy breakfast solution that families all over our country and neighboring countries are enjoying as a Nutritious Start to their day.


What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Put in the effort and don’t make excuses. The worst obstacle is procrastination.

Before starting this business, no one told me…

That there is so many entrepreneurs out there. I thought I was the wild – crazy one stepping into this new journey, that none other venture into. I soon realized that South Africa has a network of amazing entrepreneurs who are keen to support and encourage one another. It is not a lonely road. For me it has been a adventure with so many learnings and loads of personal growth.


Work-life balance is difficult for entrepreneurs, do you have any advice?

When you involve your family it becomes exciting. Although none of my families works for the business. I share my stress and victories with them . My daughters, now 6 and 8 often join me when I have a market day or an expo.


Where can people find NutriStart products? 

Nutristart is now distributed Nationally in PnP, Dischem, Clicks, Spar  and Food Lovers we also have a list of smaller outlets that stock our new Hello Range , in and around Port Elizabeth.
Find Nutristart on Facebook.
And on Instagram.

Talk to us about your love for Nelson Mandela Bay…

Where is your favorite breakfast spot?

Brioche in Main Road Walmer.

If you have to choose a coffee shop as an office, which one would you go to?

Werk – I actually often consider just to get a desk there to be in the buzz.

Where do you go in Nelson Mandela Bay for a bit of rest and relaxation, to charge your batteries?

Sardinia Bay- We have taken up Kite Surfing as a sport.

Any sights, places or attractions in the Bay you’d visit over and over again?

As a child growing up in PE my favorite outing has always been the Animal Welfare. When it was my turn to choose a weekend activity , visiting the Animal Welfare was always my choice. Nothing has changed – now my girls India and Phoebe also join me- we love the outing, stopping at Sacramento afterwards to play and swim in the rock pools.


That it folks, tell us in the comments below which local entrepreneurs inspire you!

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