She owns a model agency, co-owns a clothing line, an internal audit manager in the public sector where she works from 9am to 5pm, an executive member of the Intellectuals in Management and Business Initiatives in Southern Africa (IMBIZA) consortium, a mother and she is set to launch more new companies in a few weeks.
Welcome to the world of Brenda Nomusa Melefe, born 35 years ago in Ladysmith, Kwazulu Natal to a father who was a police officer and a mother who was a nurse. It was her parents who inspired her to move to Gauteng and study accounting because they had established a business in the transport sector and she would help her father count money from his business every night.
“My parents planted the entrepreneurial spirit in me as my mother always sold stuff, from fried chicken to starting a spaza shop,’ says Molefe.
All this drove her into studying finance and accounting, leaving home for Gauteng at the then Pretoria Technikon, now TUT. While completing her BTech degree she received a job offer at the Caurier and Freight group, a subsidiary of South African Post Office (SAPO) as an internal auditor.
She stayed with SAPO for just over three years then moved to Gobodo Forensic Accounting and later joined her current employer, Gauteng Provincial Treasury as an internal audit manager.
“My love for books saw me graduating with two degrees in 2015, Honours in Internal Auditing from UNISA and Masters in Business Administration from MANCOSA. After completing my MBA I started my company called the Last Born Creations (PTY) Ltd which gave birth to all the other businesses and ideas that I have right now” she said.
The mother of two, 11 year old girl, Angela and 5 year old son, Tiro, is a last child in a family of five, hence naming her first company the Last Born Creations. She started the company two years ago and it’s the holding company for all her businesses, Sister Rising among the others.
Juggling between one role and the other is not a problem for Molefe as she has no formula; she just makes life work at its own time.
“I make sure that when I’m at work I focus all my attention to my work responsibilities and dedicate one hour of my time during the day to checking my business emails and respond to any new applications or castings”.
“When I get home I dedicate my time to cooking for the kids, we love dancing so we have our own dance sessions before we sleep. Before retiring to bed though, I focus on business related engagements. I thank God for technology because it makes life easier as I do most of my business on my smart phone.”
She however has an assistant who shares the agencies load. She responds to orders for clothes, advertise new stock and respond to potential investors by email to set up weekend meetings.
“So during the weekends is when I focus my attention on business. Sunday I go to church and have some ‘me’ time. I’m also lucky that my partner understands my responsibilities and also assists where he can, so life just works out.”
What really drove her to start a company though, since she already has a full time job in the public sector?
“When I was young, my mother used to take my sisters and I to model for well-known clothing brands when they needed to showcase their new clothing lines. In high school I wrote and stared in my own play that won position 3 in the Love Life “Say no to drugs” campaign,
In the same play I co-wrote and performed a rap song. Because I’m from a small town, music and art were not really seen as a career but just entertainment. That passion slowly hid behind accounting, although at tertiary I used to belong to a technikon group called Top Talent where I would have a chance to nurse my passion and I kept on recording music for fun. I also once recorded with an MTV Africa award winning artist,” she reminisces.
She adds that all these activities prove that modelling and preforming have always been running in her blood stream.
“In 2016 I decided to join a plus size model agency which is something I’ve always done before but this time around, the owner made me a manager of the Guteng branch. However, with the many challenges I discovered were faced by plus size ladies, I decided to start my own agency but not to only focus on plus size models but all women as I felt all women should be celebrated.”
As the Sister Rising agency grew, the Talent leg also started having actors and a female vocalist, Miss Tee. The agency also consists of male models and this month there are launching the Sister Rising kids.
Her clothing line which she co-owns with Herve Champagne who founded it in 2016, Hudess Couture is a unique clothing line with T-shirts, hoodies, Africa print pants and dresses, all of which are uniquely designed and custom made. Sister Rising also has a kids clothing line called ShAngy bags and designs. At the moment, they sell their clothes via social media as plans for an online shop are underway.
“I have always liked making and buying clothes. Although I do not stick to labels, I always received positive feedback about my outfit selection whenever I wore them. Growing up, I had an aunt who use to work in a clothing factory, I’ve always been fascinated by the process of making clothes.
“When I met Herve and he told me about his clothing line I fell in love with the concept embedded in the name HUsstle Determination Succes. I came in as a financial manager and business strategist that helped to get the business into the professional stage it is at right now.
Besides all the jobs she does, Molefe also from time to time does business and financial plans for entrepreneurs under the LBC umbrella.
“My biggest financial consulting currently is for a fashion consortium that was established in February this year.”
In the meantime, she has four businesses running and three to be soon launched and a few concepts that are still in the cooking pot.
About IMBIZA where she is one of the executive members, she explains that it’s a concept started by a few MBA, MBL and Doctorate graduates who felt the need to have a place where they can harness their skills and also get the opportunity to study further without being judged or being made fun off for desiring to study further.
The corporative has co-written a book about their MBA/MBL journey which is yet to be published.
“Besides assisting members to complete their masters’ degrees, we have a series of business and educational opportunities to be launched soon. We aim to bring the dignity back into education and encourage the African child to study further.”
She says the starting point to establishing any kind of business is understanding the need or gap to be filled. Molefe urges people not to start a business for the sake of having a CIPC number only, or aiming to just make money as money will come after one has understood their market and their needs.
“Know how you can bring change to make life a little easier for the next person, an entrepreneur gets uncomfortable when they encounter an opportunity for change. For example, the person who invented the drive through and banking apps wanted to make life easier for the end user, no more standing in queues but driving through or doing your banking on the phone.
“So ideas and opportunities come through every day but it’s just for the special individual to see them and turn them into a successful business.”