Q & A with Chrizanda Botha, Mom and Owner of Summerhouse

1. Tell us about yourself. Have you always been entrepreneurial? What led you to taking the first step and setting up your own business?

I won’t say I’ve been as entrepreneurial as I’ve been passionate about being surrounded with lovely things. Apart from the fact that I do enjoy making money, I’ve also always believed that 8 hours in your day is a too big chunk of your time to spend on doing things you don’t absolutely LOVE doing. In my case that is exactly what led me to buy Summerhouse. It is a small shop that sells fabric and makes curtains, blinds and custom products. It has heaps of potential, perfectly located and keeps me busy with all things lovely.

2. How did Summerhouse come about and has it changed your life?

Summerhouse was a pie in the sky, it has always been a dream to have my own something. I actually always thought that ‘that-something’ might be a flower shop with a big harvest table in the centre, serving my mom’s winning cheesecake and stacked with all sorts of beautiful rare finds, ornaments, art and candles. In Afrikaans there is a saying, ‘my gat jeuk’, and that is when you urge to take steps and just do something. So, on my 31st birthday, much like searching for a house, I searched for a business. There is often the question of why do you spend as much on buying a business when you can use that capital to just start your own thing. One, the location of the shop was perfect, and two, the recipe of what they do is a winning recipe and exactly what I’d like to do. They are also established and while I spend my first year tweaking the business model to what I would want it to be, it is business as usual. Summerhouse isn’t a side hustle, this is it. It has to work and I’m working very hard to grow it to the potential I saw when I first considered it.   

3. What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

Nothing comes from sitting. If you want something to happen, make it happen. No-one shares your dreams and your goals, yes, they will celebrate your victories with you, but you have to set the table and buy the champagne.

4. What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

There have been so many influencers over the years coming from the different industries I’ve worked in. Starting back in the day with Catherine Luckhoff who played a massive part in my life, still today she amazes me! That is a business woman of note, and inspiring from the way she runs her business to the way she leads her life. Then as I started to shape my own life with the things I find important and the brands I resonate with, I started following design brands. From the likes of Sophie Ashby to Blue Bell Gray, which is a fantastic inspiration and always coming up with something new and fresh, I’ve always thought that Blue Bell Gray is my 10-year plan – that is the potential I see in Summerhouse.

More recently my very best friend, Jana Leonard, has influenced me so much in her “no-nonsense, get up and go” philosophy. We often tend to overthink things. While we think, she is busy doing, and that is so inspiring. She is a go-getter, she is clever and she is passionate!

5. If any, what challenges have you experienced as a woman in your industry?

I’ve been very fortunate where I’ve grown up with parents that never really made a fuss about “a boys job” or “a girls task” type of thing. So from the get go I always thought I can do anything I set my heart to. I’ve always been encouraged to dream big and pushed to work hard.  I really can’t say that I’ve ever been dissed because I’m a woman. If anything I think my upbringing played a big part and that I could’ve possibly been quite naïve and not really recognising any gender inequality. I am grateful that it didn’t affect me in any way, as I know how it is still a massive challenge in many industries.

6. What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

My number one goal, and that is just around the corner, is to get my online shop up and running. I’ve got some beautiful designs ready for the season, as well as fantastic outdoor furniture from deck chairs to outdoor floor cushions covered in fabulous outdoor fabric. My second goal, and that is more of a “next year this time” type of goal, is to launch a Summerhouse Fabrics fabric line. Designed and printed by ourselves.  

7. Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)? If so, please tell us about it.

We’ve just finalised the new Summerhouse branding. The shop never really had a Corporate Identity, and now it has. I used a female-owned agency very close to my heart, Yellow Door Collective, to help me conceptualise the brand identity and bring my dreams for Summerhouse to life. I am so proud of the look and feel. We are still busy phasing it in, but the website is live (http://summerhousefabrics.co.za), the swing tags are hanging and the lightbox is going up soon. 

8. What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring female business leaders reading this?   

It would be the advice I heard from a speaker early in my twenties. He said that if you are under 35 and comfortable, get up and do something. You are young enough to make mistakes, and you owe your talents to the world. You can do whatever you want to do, just get up and do it!