UJ Alumni Anele Sikakana Top 25 finalist for Mrs. South Africa 2021!

Meet Anele Sikakana, a UJ Alumni from the Marketing Management Department and a Top 25 finalist for Mrs South Africa 2021! She is back at UJ and currently enrolled for her Masters in Marketing Research and the meantime she is busy with a fund raising event “Women4Women” and she is also an entrepreneur. We caught up with her capturing her journey with UJ, Mrs SA, and her as an Entrepreneur.

What is your main reason for entering Mrs SA 2021? Having followed the Mrs South Africa program from a distance for many years, I always had the sense that it would be a worthwhile journey because I recognised the transformative power of the platform to empower and bring out the best in women. Towards the end of 2020, I really felt like I was losing the essence of who I was, and desperately needed to re-acquaint myself with Anele!  This meant stepping out of my comfort zone and really opening myself up to new experiences. The decision to enter the competition was the beginning of that journey of self-discovery and personal development.

And how has your journey been so far? I began my journey as a Mrs South Africa Top 100 Semi-Finalist. I committed to working hard on myself; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I experienced all the highs and lows that come with any transformative journey, and it all paid off on the night of the 20th of August, when I was announced as a Mrs South Africa Finalist (Top 25) check https://mrssouthafrica.co.za/welcome/index.php/2021/top-25-finalists. I have met some phenomenal women and have built so many great friendships and bonds with some very special women. I have also been fortunate enough to form some great business relationships along the way. This journey has really granted me an opportunity to learn, experience and grow as an individual, and has helped me expand my network. I really feel like I am coming full circle.

How are you finding your Masters experience with UJ? Having completed two qualifications with UJ, the natural progression was to peruse my Masters. My experience thus far has been pleasant. I am enjoying the challenge and both my supervisors have been very supportive. I am really passionate about my chosen dissertation topic, Sustainable Luxury, which makes all the difference.

Who is your Masters supervisor? I am fortunate to have Dr Lubbe as my Supervisor, and I am co-supervised by Dr Cunningham, who actually inspired me to pursue my master’s back in 2017, after obtaining my first qualification with UJ. She was my research lecturer at the time and was instrumental, in me not only obtaining a distinction for the module but developing a love for research.

Tell us more about your Women4Women event? My Women4Women fundraiser was hosted by The Sustainable Luxury Exchange (SLX) Auction, which is an experiential platform created by myself that offers consumers an opportunity to engage with sustainable luxury goods in a fresh and authentic way. The event took place on Sunday, 24 October and was held at The Maslow Hotel Sandton, which has been awarded “The Greenest Hotel in Sandton”, with the aim of raising funds for Women4Women, is a non-profit organisation focused on female empowerment, community upliftment and youth education. “Women empowerment is a topic that is close to my heart. As an entrepreneur, I want to encourage the next generation of young females to achieve their dreams and create their own opportunities”.

You are an entrepreneur and you launched your own non-alcoholic gin label this year, tell us more? “Iconic Citric Rose” is a sophisticated and naturally distilled non-alcoholic spirit, that draws inspiration from the Iconic natural landscapes and botanicals of the mountainous Cape region of South Africa. Made from a combination of select natural and classical London-Dry ingredients, blended, and distilled to produce a refreshing and floral taste.

Why non-alcoholic only? When we decided to embark on the journey of creating a beverage, we knew that we wanted to create a beverage and a brand that resonates with the future drinking habits of consumers. The research from my master’s study confirmed that the consumption habits of consumers (especially millennials) were changing rapidly and drastically. Consumers were becoming more health conscious and mindful of the impact that their consumption habits had on them physically and on the environment. With this in mind, we knew that this was the route we wanted to take; to create a sophisticated, non-alcoholic beverages rooted in sustainability, using high quality ingredients to deliver a delicious taste.

What major hurdle have you had to overcome as an entrepreneur? Big retailers and distributors have a low appetite for start-up beverage companies without a proven track record in the market. Creating the right brand equity required a lot of financial investment upfront, if we had any hope of scaling the business. Funding therefore, plays a crucial role and remains one of the biggest challenges for many entrepreneurs. With this said, we have had to self-fund our business fully from the ground up. It has required a lot of sacrifice; however, it has been worth it.

How are you balancing it all, have you found the secret to time management? One thing that I have learnt in this busy season of my life is that when juggling many balls, it is important to remember that the balls are not made of glass! So, every now and then, when a deadline slips, or you get your dates mixed up for a zoom call, it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is to pick the ball up, do the necessary damage control and continue.

Anele Sikakana

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