Tsitsi Mutendi, founder of Jewel Magazine, Mucha and Mufaro dolls is a girl from Masvingo, born in Harare and partially raised in the UK. She spent eight years of her childhood in the UK before moving back to Zimbabwe.
Tell us a bit about Tsitsi Mutendi
I decided earlier on in life that I was more suited for entrepreneurship than I was to a career. Mostly because I enjoy starting things. I love creating new companies or entities and seeing them succeed and/or learning from their failures.
My entrepreneurship journey started when I was 24, back then I wanted to be a fashion designer. I have had the privilege and honour of creating different products and taking them to a market.
How was Jewel Magazine born?
Jewel started in February 2011 after I lost my child. I loved reading magazines and decided to create my own that would be an outlet for the different ideas I had. Ideas to inform women about things that could help them empower themselves.
The first issue went to print in June 2011 and came out in July. I wanted a magazine name which reflected what I thought of women and what they should think of themselves. I couldn’t think of any other name better than Jewel.
To me women are like precious Jewels, sometimes they are covered in the earth, growing roots and preparing to germinate, sometimes you have to dig deep to find them.
Do you have any plans of reviving Jewel?
Jewel for me was a journey; it’s unfortunate we got to a place where we couldn’t print it anymore because we kept breaking even. The decision to stop printing was hard because I felt like I was giving up on my baby and no mother wants to give up their child.
I think Jewel is one of those product pieces in the journey that has made me grow stronger. It has brought me more focus, and has always had the power to renew my will and vision to move forward.
Unless we can bring Jewel back bigger and better than it was, without having to shelve it again, I think for now it will always be a part of Zimbabwean history.
Tell us a bit about Mucha Fashion
Mucha was born before Jewel. I love African print fabric and loved what West Africans were doing with it at the time; It was so modern and chic and no one in Southern Africa was doing it.It involved a lot of creativity with fabric and garments, and most of our clients allowed us to revamp their wardrobes.
Unfortunately, I had to let go because the market became saturated and there was a lot of replication.
What is Danz Media all about?
It is our flagship product company which has been running for many years. So many great products are housed under it. For example, my husband, Daniel Mutendi’s Nama’s award winning children’s book, Tsuro na Gudo: Misi yese haifanani.
We have also produced other Shona educational books, and continue to work with organisations and schools.
I love Danz media because it allows me to be creative and to explore different media platforms.
How did Mufaro come about?
Mufaro came from wanting a soft cushy doll for my daughter. I could not find it in shops so I learnt how to make one. Wanting to venture into the toy market only came after realizing no one else was doing it and the opportunity was there.
So my husband and I decided to attend the Spiel Warenmesse toy fair in Nuremberg which was held in February 2011, to exhibit our Mufaro Dolls. It is the biggest toy fair in the world and it ran for six days. Africa is very much underrepresented in the toy industry, so it was an amazing learning experience for us.
We are in the process of implementing and working with the different partners that we met when we were there.
Where is the Woman of Legacy Foundation now?
I stopped running the foundation as a stand alone organisation but instead focused on corporate social responsibility. I invest in other women and provide individual and organisational mentorship.
We provide scholarships as a family, not only to students who excel academically, but those we feel will invest in tomorrow.Entrepreneurship is not easy but gives one the flexibility to choose when to work Click To Tweet
What are your entrepreneurial journey highlights thus far?
- The ability to spend time with my family. Entrepreneurship is not easy but gives one the flexibility to choose when to work.
- Meeting so many remarkable women. It’s not when you start profiling women, knowing who they are, and learning why they do what they do ,do you truly realise how powerful we are as women.
- Risk taking. I don’t know what a comfort zone is. Entrepreneurship has taught me that risk taking is not for sissy’s, neither is it something that you should be afraid of. Most of the lessons I have learnt are because I have taken chances. I wouldn’t change my entrepreneurship journey and I definitely wouldn’t get a job.
What are your top entrepreneurship lessons?
- Entrepreneurship has its pro’s and con’s but it has taught me responsibility. You never stop learning really. It has also taught me that I am the master of my own destiny.
- No amount of capital or investment is going to make a crappy idea work, you have to go out there and put in the work.
- At times you might not know if you are going to reap or how you are going to pay the next bill but it’s still important to stay true to your dream or vision.
How do you prioritize your time between being a mother, wife, entrepreneur?
I work with my husband and we both work from home- so our children see us all the time. I also have a good support system. It includes my two mothers and the woman who helps me with the kids at home. She is now a big part of the family. My husband is also very supportive. When I was away for a month for the Women Fortune 500, he looked after our daughter.
Constant communication is essential for balance, you must be able to speak up when you need help. I have also learnt to say ‘no’. Sometimes you just have to say no to a client or to a job because you cannot meet the demands.
As I grow older I value time, I can never get back the moments I laugh and play with my daughter or where I just sit and do nothing. Time means much more to me than any amount of money.
How is it working with your husband?
I spend an average of 20hrs a day with him. We don’t have to be talking all the time, we can just be working in the same room in silence. We have an understanding where being next to each other makes us feel safe and comfortable.
Communication is the key to our relationship. Lack of communication kills most relationships. Understanding that we are different has really assisted us in working together.
How does your brand support the Zimbabwean economy?
Our content is produced locally and we try to fly the Zimbabwean flag high. For example when we went to Germany, we were the only Zimbabwean company there.
What would you like to tell other young women in business?
You must challenge yourself to be better than you were yesterday. There will always be other people better than you, but just remember you are unique. Don’t worry about everyone else just do you and stick to your lane.
What career or business projects have you started?
Let us know more about you and your story here