How Mpho Vackier went from full-time employee to entrepreneur

Last week Refilwe taught us that it is critical to take time to study the market and industry you want to get into. Your understanding of what customers want, combined with your skills can be your knowledge base. Using this knowledge in the right way can help you run your business more efficiently and help you make the most of the opportunities. 

This is exactly what Mpho Vackier did. Having spent several years in the engineering industry, Mpho had a desire to move into the creative space. To help facilitate this, she completed a course in design. Mpho's successful career transition was  a combination of studying her new field and internal drive and confidence. She then quit her job and formally started her own interior design and furniture design company called DesignPeo. She later launched a furniture brand under DesignPeo called The Urbanative. The brand celebrates the individuality of clients by offering customisable and truly defined furniture pieces.

Please share your story. How did you move from the corporate world into being a business owner? How did that process unravel?

Having initially studied extraction metallurgy as well as having worked for a couple of years as a process engineer, I always knew I wanted to do design. When the opportunity came, I went back to school and studied interior design. After graduation, I worked for a really cool company that gave me the opportunity to be fully involved in projects as well as the business side even at the level of a junior interior designer. When I finally decided to go on my own, I was confident in my ability to run my own business. Whilst studying interior design I developed the product and furniture design bug and knew I wanted to pursue that. I have always been in love with the clean functionality of mid-century European furniture design and the philosophies of the Bauhaus movement. Now, I enjoy juxtaposing those concepts and aesthetics with the vibrant geometric style of African cultural artwork and graphics.

What were your fears about making the leap from a full-time job with a steady income and benefits to running your own business?

Financial security because when I resigned from my job as a process engineer I had a very good salary and incentives.
When I left my interior design job, I would question if I really had something new to add to the design industry, so finding my voice as a designer was one of my biggest fears and I also worried once I found my voice about the reaction from everyone, would they love and understand the pieces I was designing, would they get it?

What is your experience so far as an entrepreneur?

It's exciting, energising, lonely, hard and not for everyone.

What advice would you give to women who want to start a business?

Being an entrepreneur is lonely in the beginning. Most times only you can see where you would like to be whilst having to explain your decisions and sacrifices to everyone. Trying to build a business from the ground up whilst being a mom, wife and a friend is pretty tricky. You juggle what you can and sometimes somethings fall off, but you have to cut yourself some slack.
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So in conclusiong, it's important to remember that you are not alone. If you want to "be your own boss" but you still feel stuck, reach out and connect with other entrepreneurs in a variety of ways. You may be surprised by the invaluable contacts that are right at your fingertips.