Many people dream of one day owning their own business but only few possess the resolve, vision and determination to make it a reality. Candice van Vooren, the owner of Crystal Garnet Bridal Boutique, is just such a person. From its inception, she had a clear vision of what she wanted and even created a dream wall (vision board) to help her stay focused.
Crystal Garnet Bridal Boutique was launched on 7 August 2010 and officially registered on 21 October 2010. Candice remembers: ‘My mom and I renovated her garage into a mini bridal boutique and that was where I consulted with clients on a part-time basis for about 3 ½ years, as I was still in full-time employment.’ In April 2014 she submitted her resignation, went into business full-time and moved into a beautiful bridal boutique in Fourways, Johannesburg. This was a special boutique indeed, as it was the very image she had put on her dream wall two years prior. It was when this opportunity presented itself and the premises became available that she felt the timing was right to take the big leap of faith.
She could now offer her customers and brides what she believed they deserve: ‘To be treated like a queen from the moment they step into our boutique and throughout their whole experience with us.’
Candice has also had to face a variety of challenges – funding being one of the largest. She describes, ‘I had requested government funding about two months prior to moving into the premises. I had some start-up capital available, but it wasn’t enough. This process was eventually finalised after 1 ½ years but my application for funding was declined. In the same period I had also tried to obtain other means of funding through other government organisations, private funding organisations, banks, etc. but none were successful. It was a very difficult time and I was convinced that I needed the funding. But then, I eventually reached a stage when I realised that I neither wanted nor needed funding in order to make the business a success. It actually meant that I did not incur additional liabilities into the business.’
She also saw the value and importance of having a good team of people working for the business. Candice believes that, ‘Your business will only succeed if you have the right team in place to support you – staff who are skilled in what they do, believe in your vision and are committed to you and your customers.’ The business has mainly worked with contract and temporary staff, i.e. two sales consultants, two seamstresses and one general office assistant, but is now in the process of changing their structure. It is being developed into a franchise model and manufacturing organisation. They are also planning to launch new services in the next few months that they believe will accelerate business growth significantly and in turn provide many more opportunities.
Candice believes that in order to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to: ‘Have a clear vision/dream for your business. Believe in your vision and believe in yourself. Take action and make things happen for you. Find your purpose in moving your dream forward and let it inspire you to never give up no matter how difficult it gets.’ She also strongly recommends that business owners, ‘Always learn more and engage in personal development – read more, research more and take risks! Learn from your mistakes, your staff, customers, suppliers and any other stakeholders in your business and make more informed decisions going forward. Always remember, many great entrepreneurs failed their way forward!’
When asked why South Africans should support small business and the #ShopSmallBiz Movement she emphasized how we need to remember that small businesses provide financial income to many households. ‘In my case, a few of my seamstresses who were employed by us were responsible for providing financial support to their entire families, as the only breadwinners, to their children, grandchildren, etc.’
Through supporting small businesses, we enable them to grow and create more job opportunities in our communities. This, Candice emphasizes, will help alleviate the unemployment crisis in a country, which she believes will help reduce crime, poverty and many other issues that we face as a nation.
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Small Business Friday is brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and Nedbank (Title Sponsor) and encourages all South Africans to interact and support small business everyday; especially every Friday and even more so on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This grows local communities, drives job creation and ultimately builds the nation. With your support small business will be able to employ more, therefore reducing rates of unemployment and harvesting the entrepreneurial spirit.