5 steps to maintaining your balance as a closet entrepreneur

In a conversation I had not too long ago, I had realized and pointed out that one of the things I love about Johannesburg, is that it’s a place where more often than not, you meet people who have day jobs (9 – 5), but also run businesses and have side-hustles after-hours.

These are often centred around their passion, interests or basically what they enjoy and are good at. They vary from person to person.

For example: 

Nkgabi, who started off in advertising, left corporate and started her own company and also dabbles in some blogging for her blog – Diary of a Rad Black Woman.

Duke, who is quite talented when it comes to woodwork. He’s in the construction industry but makes furniture.  He’s made rails for me, server tables and is currently in the process of making pedestals.

Mlue, who is a chef and runs a catering business that he’s grown over the past few months. From participating in market days where he sells his local cuisine, to catering for intimate dinners and parties, he too has a 9-5 in advertising.

Myself, a market research analyst from 9- 5 and returns home to run an online clothing business; Barbara Mckenzie.

Although the word hustle has historically had a negative connotation describing scams and fraud, over the past few years this has changed and now people are proud to be called hustlers.

From the above-mentioned individuals and anyone else who leads such a busy life of juggling two jobs at once, they are multi-taskers and jugglers of note.

And for those looking to grow their interests into income-generating ventures, here are a few tips on how to maintain the balance.


Eat the elephant one bite at a time

As closet-entrepreneurs, we do not necessarily enjoy the luxury of working in our businesses all day like full-time entrepreneurs do, so we need to roll out tasks into smaller and more manageable sizes.

Diagrams and lists often help here and ticking or crossing off completed tasks enable you to see your progress at a glance and see what needs to be done immediately.

For example, if you make products that you sell, one afternoon or evening can be set aside for collecting all that is needed for production and prepping for it. The next two afternoons or evenings can be set aside for the production and the weekend may be for corrections or changes and so forth.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Whether you’re working after hours during the week or over weekends, your time needs to be well planned for to ensure that you’re getting the most of the limited time that you have.

For example, answering emails at 09:00, then 12:00 and then at 16:00 allows you to fully focus on the work at hand instead of being distracted with emails that come in every 30 minutes or so. This enables you to have more hours to work effectively on your 9-5. 

Another angle is if you sell products that need to be shipped out, do your shipping on certain days for an hour instead of doing them individually for an hour every time could save you a lot of time.

It is also important to note that scheduling your family and friends is just as important, as work does tend to take over one’s schedule leaving loved ones neglected.

You can save time and energy by using your income from your 9-5 to invest in your side business Click To Tweet


Often as owners of our businesses, we tend to want to do everything ourselves, which is not the wisest thing to do. Where you can get help and outsource, do it.

Sometimes, instead of buying stock or materials yourself, you can hire and pay a daily rate to a runner. Another idea would be to buy online and have them delivered to you.

You can save time and energy by using your income from your 9-5 to invest in your side business or simply add it into the product’s costing.

Do things that create more time

Often you’ll find that customers have very similar questions, one way to address this is to have a frequently asked questions page that answers shipping queries, accounts queries, standard rates etc.

This is where outsourcing is an idea as well, if you ship out products, having a company handle all your shipping is better than having to run to the post office everything someone makes a purchase.

Use a vision board. When you can see what you want to achieve, it gives you that extra push Click To Tweet

Kick procrastination

Avoid this by all means. Although quite a difficult one to avoid, with proper planning and discipline, you can set aside rest days to binge watch Being Mary Jane or Insecure so that when you have to get back to work, you’re well rested.

Another idea is to also divide your work into smaller intervals of work with 15 minute rest periods in between them, this keeps you fresh and alert.

My own personal method to keep myself motivated is to spend about 10 minutes on Pinterest looking beautiful and fashion-forward clothing from around the world. This not only inspires me but also gets my creativity going and excited to create more clothes.

Others find a that a vision board helps, when you can see what you want to achieve, it gives you that extra push.


In conclusion

For those who have both day jobs and run a side-business, I believe you’re some kind of special human. Aside from the 9-5 hours you work, you still come home and gather up some more energy to work on your side business.

Naturally, this means we have less time and freedom than full-time entrepreneurs, but we still keep it all together and keep our businesses going, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired.

It’s great to look back at what you’ve done and accomplished with that limited time, kudos to you!

Got any skills on how you balance your multiple jobs? Let us know here.

Looking back at 2016’s lessons

barbara mckenzie kendi sapepa lessons
It’s crazy to think what a difference a year can make, @Kendibone_S shares her lessons Click To Tweet

As we stroll into 2017, I wanted to take a look back at it, and see what has stood out as really important lessons learned in 2016. First up, we have;

Listen to your inner voice

As cliché as it may sound, sometimes when working on certain projects or people, there is often a small voice telling you to say ‘no’. Yet whether it doesn’t make sense financially, does not suit your brand or just a personal reason, we often agree and suffer the consequences of it.

I have slowly started getting used to saying ‘no’ to making clothes that do not complement my brand or my brand’s style. After reading how saying no, can be one of the best self-care, I’ve been slowly getting into saying it more.



Don’t be a lone-ranger

Although I work best when working alone, I have come to appreciate how much collaborations can help and grow your business. Learning to mingle with industry leaders, influential people and chatting to some —even if it’s just to ask a question— has really made a difference in my business’s growth and reach.

Working with both like-minded people and “unlike-minded” people, helps you see things differently or in some cases, build on what you already have. Simple things like collaborating with a start-up courier company can help you lower your costs and help them grow their client bases and develop their track-record.

Make your customer service your best marketing tool - @Kendibone_S Click To Tweet

Value your clients

They are the lifeblood of your business. Make your customer service your best marketing tool, simply because it is far more organic and real. A referral from a trusted friend is far more effective than a paid for Facebook advert.

Not to say that one should not participate in paid advertising, but when you cannot afford it, your customers will do it for you, free of charge. And when they can’t, you simply engage in some referral-based marketing and offer discounts and free gifts for every new clients they bring. This is totally worth it and far more effective.fierce gif


We as entrepreneurs often spend each and every waking hour slaving away at building our businesses and often forget to take care of ourselves. Like in emergency airplane situations, you are instructed to put on an oxygen mask on yourself before you can help anyone, even children. One must take care of oneself before they can take care if their business.

I started practising self-love recently, when I painted my nails after months of not making time to do it. Self-love need not be extravagant, it just has to be something that makes you happy. Something as simple as buying yourself an ice-cream cone and taking a walk or giving yourself a half-day from work, can go a mighty long way.

Get uncomfortable

It’s crazy to think what a difference a year can make. I started off the year with just my clothing brand and its online store, but the tail-end of 2016 I had an actual walk-in boutique that opened early December.

Before this I had fears about the cost and implications of opening a store, possibility of zero sales, being unable to cover overheads, and for a long time was paralysed by it. But as the famous meme says, the magic happens outside the comfort zone.

if-you-believe-lavwemThere are those who are happy to not try anything and that’s all right, but for those who dream and wonder if they would be successful at something, just do it! It’s okay to fail, it says you tried! Most of us are very quick to drown ourselves in the negatives and consequences of taking a chance, that we barely come up for air and say; “but what if it does work?”

As the next famous meme goes; “What if you fly?” We need to train our minds to be selective in the kind of thoughts that we allow into our heads, we need to be as selective of those thoughts as we are with our selfies, clothes and so on. The mind is a powerful thing.

We need to train our minds to be as selective of thoughts as we are with our selfies Click To Tweet

And with that said, I look forward to starting off the year on a high note.

Kendibone Sapepa: Barbara McKenzie started off with me making garments for myself

Kendibone Sapepa
@Kendibone_S I wanted my brand @_BMcKenzie__ to be a brand with purpose Click To Tweet

Imagine starting out making clothes for yourself and then moving on to make a business out of it due to popular demand. That’s the story behind Barbara McKenzie, a clothing brand, styling service and consulting service based in Joburg. Barbar McKenzie is run by Kendibone Sapepa, a fashion enthusiast who wants to provide customers with classic fashion-forward clothing. You may have read some of her writing right here on SLA where Kendi schools us on different careers in fashion.

Read on to find out how Kendibone Sapepa, a Marketing Management graduate is growing her brand and what she has to say about New Year resolutions for businesses.

Tell us about your journey to starting Barbara McKenzie clothing.

Barbara McKenzie started off with me making garments for myself. When people took an interest in what I was making, I decided to create a business out of it.

You established Barbara McKenzie in 2013, how has your brand grown? Has it exceeded your exceptions?

It has grown to become what I had wanted from its inception and much more! From just making clothes at home for fun, I’ve dressed admirable women and it continues to grow.

Kendibone Sapepa: Barbara McKenzie's target market is women who emanate elegance & femininity Click To Tweet

You have a degree in Marketing Management, do you use what you’ve learned in university in running Barbara McKenzie? If so, how?

Every single day. Brands need to be marketed, other wise, how would people know that Barbara McKenzie exists?

Activities vary between advertising, collaborations, to anything you can think of, as well as the strategic side of it which the public sometimes does not see.


10% of your profits go towards helping a girl-child, can you tell us more about this initiative?

It is a new initiative that I’ve just started. I often come across many stories about how girls cannot go to school and I’ve decided to do something about it. 10% of Barbara McKenzie profits will go to an organisation that helps young girls in need, or directly to these young girls.

This of course does not exclude those who cannot afford school fees, and with FeesMustFall —we will help where we can. I wanted my brand to be a brand with purpose, so if people are buying clothes to look good, let them also feel good as well by knowing that when they buy from Barbara McKenzie, a young child is helped as well.

Tell us about your consulting service, it sounds quite unique to bring clients on to be part of the design process. How did you come up with this idea? Have there been any particular difficulties implementing it?

It is not really unique, as many designers offer this service to all clients. It was not really a matter of coming up with it, but rather clients who wanted a specific looking garments.

Difficulties vary, from clients wanting garments that do not compliment my brand, to changing their designs half-way through production, but at the end of the day customers’ happiness matters most.


What/who would you say captures the Barbara McKenzie style?

The brand’s target market is women of all ages who are feminine and prefer classic style with a modern element in their clothing.

Women who emanate effortless elegance and femininity.

Kendibone Sapepa went on a mini-mission to find out more fashion-related careers Click To Tweet

From your articles on SLA, you seem passionate about different careers in fashion, how did this come about?

A couple of months ago, a young lady in grade 10 came to me to somewhat “job-shadow” me as her school does on an annual basis. When we spoke I learned that her parents, like most, wanted her to follow a career in science. They thought a career in science ensures a comfortable and secure life, but as one can see today, this is not how it goes.

I’ve seen many a picture of people with degrees, standing at robots asking for jobs. So I went on a mini-mission to find out more about these fashion related careers to better inform these young people about what they entail. I mean with employment in RSA at its worst, why not follow what you like anyway, and also encourage entrepreneurship?

What will be your New Year resolutions for Barbara McKenzie?

I’m not sure if a entity can have New Year Resolutions, but I personally don’t. One need not wait till January of each year to start doing something, one just starts. Why wait for the next year to start doing something, when you can do it sooner?

@Kendibone_S - One need not wait till January of each year to start doing something Click To Tweet

I’ve started the help-a-girl-child initiative at the end of this year, I don’t think waiting until the beginning of 2017 would be any better, just so I can say that I have a “New Year Resolution”.

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