by Libby Peacock
“These trying times have shown us that we matter – we’re not only doing gardens but changing people’s lives.”
Green-fingered aunt-and-niece team Dinah Kgeledi and Lesego Seloane are carving their way in an industry dominated by men: landscaping. And they say the Covid-19 pandemic has shown them to be resilient and able to “pivot a lot” – “our homeowner clients are so appreciative of their gardens, particularly because many of them are now working from home”.
The Gauteng-based pair use their botany and horticulture expertise to provide landscaping planning, design, implementation and maintenance services through their business, Ronewa Creations.
More than just growing an enterprise, they’re establishing a legacy, says Seloane – they grew up in a home surrounded by lovely plants of different species and were inspired by her grandmother, Kgeledi’s mother, who is now in her 80s. “She still loves gardening, and she is still schooling us to this day.”
About 90% of the suppliers and partners they work with in different parts of their service offering are men and most of their team are male, adds Seloane. “Since our business is male-dominated, we have to be strong, mentally and physically.”
“From the plant names and knowing how to care properly for your plants, to leading a team of mainly men, you need clarity of vision and the right talent on board with the right mindset, because this is tough … working in the rain, under the scorching sun …”
Kgeledi adds, “Although we don’t know many female landscapers in the industry, young women are truly inspired by us. It’s our biggest dream to give back to the young. We want to have an impact on people’s lives – especially young women who want to pursue business.”
The right guidance has been vital on their own journey, she says – it’s not only about business, but also about personal development and having the “right mind and attitude”. Perseverance, a strong will, passion and a love for people are important.
The pair have a similar vision and deep trust and share a goal: to grow the business in other provinces, employ more people, and empower others through environmental advocacy – all while having fun.
Their tips for young women following in their footsteps? “Just start! Women are incubators and we can achieve so much when we realise how great we can be once we are in business,” says Seloane.
* Ronewa Creations is supported by insurer Hollard’s Big Ads for Small Business initiative that aims to help small, medium and micro-enterprises thrive, to their own benefit and that of their communities and the broader economy.