BusinessLocalThe Women Behind the Brand

We celebrate Women’s Month this year by learning more about some Umhlanga boss ladies who run amazing and successful business on the East Coast. They share a bit about themselves, their businesses and their words of wisdom for their fellow businesswomen.   Fiona Furniss from Ageless Grace and Nia   Fiona is a Nia black belt teacher and Ageless Grace International Trainer and Educator.  “I have a background in dance teaching and love that I...
The UmhlangaAugust 27, 2020

We celebrate Women’s Month this year by learning more about some Umhlanga boss ladies who run amazing and successful business on the East Coast. They share a bit about themselves, their businesses and their words of wisdom for their fellow businesswomen.


Fiona Furniss from Ageless Grace and Nia


Fiona is a Nia black belt teacher and Ageless Grace International Trainer and Educator.  “I have a background in dance teaching and love that I help people get moving in a way that is beneficial for both their physical and mental health.” Nia is a fitness programme that combines many different movement forms such as dance and martial arts. Ageless Grace is a brain health programme that moves the body to exercise the brain. Both programmes are uplifting, great fun and are done to inspiring music!


Not only does Fiona teach classes, she also trains people to become Ageless Grace Educators so that they can teach classes to others. The programme is for almost anybody – it’s formative for children and restorative for adults. She has been teaching online classes during the lockdown, but her regular classes are held in Umhlanga, Mount Edgecombe, Durban North and the Berea.


Fiona loves Umhlanga because of its relaxed and friendly environment. She also belongs to several women’s forums such as the Umhlanga Women Achievers and KZN Women in Business where she has experienced so much support and encouragement, which is very much appreciated in these challenging times.


“I am a positive person. I love to have a good laugh and I believe that life is to be celebrated. I follow this quote by James M. Barrie: ‘Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.’” With inspiring words like that, we know that Fiona and her Nia and Ageless Grace will go far!


083 258 5880

Facebook pages: Ageless Grace – with Fiona and Nia – with Fiona


Shannon Smith from Smith & Partners


Shannon Smith started Smith & Partners when she saw that there was a dire need for sound financial advice underpinned by value-add service provision to business owners in the SME market. “The businesses in this market so often lack the right internal expertise to meaningfully unpack financial results and the messages conveyed in those results,” adds Shannon. Smith & Partners has this expertise and their services can be outsourced for your business, too.


Shannon and her team strive to present financial information that is insightful and accordingly facilitates the effective decision-making of their clients and the businesses that they serve. Shannon has an amazing and hard-working team that constantly strives to offer more value by going above and beyond for their clients.


Shannon loves being a businesswoman in Umhlanga as she feels women are trailblazing through industries faster than ever before! “Women are warriors for their families, for their businesses and for the important people in their lives. As a business owner, I value my clients and their successes, and if I can help to improve their strength and performance, I’m all in!” Shannon is excited to see what women can do to change the corporate landscape and considers herself privileged to be a part of that force.


Shannon is very proud of her company and facilitates its growth by promoting other women into senior management and partnership roles, like the recent admittance of Tamryn Pechey as a partner in charge of outsourcing. “We’re going places and Tamryn and I are excited to see where this journey takes us!” Her mantra is what propels her great success: “Life is short, hurry to be kind.”


031 819 5850


Anneme Coetzee from Accelerated Excellence


“I believe that the pain points, voids and struggles in our lives become our best lessons, resources and values. My pain transformed into passion and I built my business on those values, to heal and empower the world,” says Anneme Coetzee who started True Awakenings, a world-class, internationally accredited NLP coaching and training institute, in 2010.


“Initially, I coached individuals only, which included business owners. It organically grew into a training centre and I furthered my qualifications in 2016 when I became a trainer.” Anneme is passionate about unlocking her client’s potential and assisting them in understanding themselves in a much deeper and more profound way, so that they can achieve personal excellence.


Anneme loves the culture of business in Umhlanga, which has become a hub of major companies. Anneme adds, “Gone are the days of running to Johannesburg for business – we have key players right here on our doorstep. You can start your day with a run or walk on the promenade, watching the beautiful ocean as your day starts to unfold – what could be better than that?”


With over 10 000 hours experience with individuals, Anneme is referred to as: “The coach that tells you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.” What drives Anneme is that she wants to heal and empower the world. She also believes that the most important thing to remember is that your words don’t describe the world you live in, but rather they determine the world you live in.


082 887 1600


Noeline Rajbally from Hey Gorgeous


Alongside being the Franchise Owner of the Hey Gorgeous shop at La Lucia Mall, Noeline is a loving wife, mum, businesswoman and life coach. “Spirituality is the basis and the core of who I am. All of my principles and values emanate from my belief in knowing that all that I need is within myself and successes are attributed to the love, peace and happiness which radiate from within myself,” says Noeline proudly.


Hey Gorgeous is a skincare brand that focuses on attaining healthy skin naturally. Their motto: “If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.” Hey Gorgeous offers natural, organic and vegan products for your skin, body and baths to enjoy. “We are a company that doesn’t cost the earth. We pride ourselves in being not only Proudly South African, but also Beauty Without Cruelty accredited,” adds Noeline.


What does Noeline love about being a boss lady in Umhlanga? “We have a wonderful tribe of businesswomen who support each other fiercely. These women are trailblazers who have stood up to the challenge during these unprecedented times and continue to make strides in their industries. I salute every woman who has held and still continues to hold their homes, businesses and families together.” We love to see women supporting women in our community! Noeline finds it difficult to choose just one mantra, but Maya Angelo’s words, “When you know better, you do better!” is at the top of her list!


064 870 7030

Facebook: @HeyGorgeousLaLucia

Instagram: @hey_gorgeous_lalucia


Taryn Flanagan from Taryn Flanagan Interiors


In 2012, Taryn Flanagan founded Taryn Flanagan Interiors, an interior decorating and design business in Durban. Taryn leads a small, fully-female team who are all highly skilled in their departments. “We work closely on every project, making each job a very personal and original piece of ‘art’,” adds Taryn.


Taryn originally worked in the clothing industry for ten years, where she gathered exceptional knowledge on colour combinations, fabric, proportions, production, pattern construction, negotiating skills and sourcing abilities. This helped her greatly when she started her interiors company as a side business, which eventually became strong enough to become her primary business and interest. Talk about a boss lady!


Taryn Flanagan Interiors is now moving from strength to strength, having worked on four large-scale homes, two lodges in northern Natal, two private lodge renovations, three Super SPAR renovations, many smaller private house room updates and one international advertising agency renovation.


What does Taryn love about being a businesswoman in Umhlanga? “The freedom it allows me to have with my children. I’ve always wanted to be the one to collect them and drop them at school as much as I could, and be home to do their homework with them, as well as not miss a sporting event. The juggle is sometimes difficult!”


Possibly a reason for her success, Taryn shares two quotes she lives by: “Everything is achievable if you want it badly enough,” and “Never turn down a job, no matter how big or small it may be, they all count!”


031 001 1010


Shirley Pearson from ActionCOACH iNala


Shirley Pearson bought the ActionCOACH franchise in Umhlanga in 2012, and hasn’t looked back since! ActionCOACH is the world’s leading business coaching firm with coaches in more than 70 countries. Shirley adds, “I work with business owners to untangle them from their businesses so that they and their business can reach their full potential. I love working with business owners who are ready to go beyond making money and who are driven to leave a legacy that benefits future generations.”


She has employed two business coaches who work with small to medium size businesses to create sustainable, profitable businesses, and with Shirley as their leader, they’ve adopted the name iNala to differentiate them from other ActionCOACH franchises. “iNala means ‘abundance’ in Zulu, which really speaks to our belief and commitment to contribute to the growth of South Africa by significantly impacting employment through profitable and sustainable private enterprises.”


Alongside being a successful businesswoman, Shirley has three amazing children and a wonderful husband. She grew up on a farm in KZN and later graduated from UCT. “Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I have only ever had one employer. Since 1993, I have run my own businesses, doing a stint as a part-time commissioner for the CCMA when it was first formed,” says Shirley. She lives by this quote by Victor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”


082 783 6905

Beacon Rock Building, Umhlanga


Dionne Collett from Take Note


Thirteen years ago, after the birth of her son, Dionne started Take Note Reputation Management. She explains the beautifully similar relationship between raising her son and building her business:


“My Take Note journey began with sleepless nights, much the same as having a newborn baby. With both Take Note and my son having just celebrated their 13th birthdays, it is remarkable the similarities in raising these two!


From birth to age eight, it is a time of rapid growth and skills development, just like how my new enterprise was nurtured into a young business. The focus was centred on creating and defining our brand, establishing bonds, rapport and trust with clients and media, and devising effective work-processes.


The next stage is middle childhood, a time of slow and steady growth, value instilling and social development. Having Take Note’s office close to home means that I am an integral part of my children’s everyday life and I am grateful for every moment I spend with them.


Now, as a young adolescent, my son is establishing his identity, as is Take Note cementing an identity and reputation as a leader in integrated reputation management, as shown by our outstanding performance as a finalist in the 2020 Prism Awards.


In this transitional stage between child and adult, there is tremendous growth taking place. One can either be out building on your legacy or hiding in the shadows, feeling awkward. I can safely say that both my children and Take Note are creating legacies in the bright limelight!”


Shana Giessing from MEG The Skin & Body Experts


MEG, known 15 years ago as Men’s Executive Grooming, started as the first of its kind in the country, headed by businesswoman Shana Giessing. Now located in Mayfair on the Lake overlooking Chris Saunders Park, Shana’s business has transitioned to MEG The Skin & Body Experts, becoming a family-orientated practice.


“We’ve chosen the specialist end of the market, and we’re not your average skincare centre. We have a very limited menu, and we’re specialised in what we do,” says Shana proudly. MEG puts their focus on three areas. One is sports massages, sports injuries and deep tissue work. Regarding skincare, they focus on anti-aging skin solutions, pigmentation disorders and acne problems. And finally, grooming – which is anything related to keeping you looking great, including manicures and pedicures, sheering and permanent and non-permanent hair removal.


Shana loves Umhlanga because it’s the pulse-point of Durban. “Umhlanga is the hot-and-happening area of our town! All of the main corporates have moved their head offices here and I feel we’re in the epicentre of the business district,” she adds.


Shana loves how her business has grown with her, from a busy worker bee to now also a wife and mother. She follows Proverbs 16:3: “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” Shana adds, “I really believe my business has stood the test of time because I commit myself to God. I know with Him at the helm of my ship, He gives me the strength, power and wisdom to action out the desires of my heart.”


031 821 0018 / 084 810 3540

Office 4, Ground Floor, Mayfair on the Lake, 5 Park Lane, Umhlanga


Janna Strang from Promote Communication


A born and bred Durbanite, Janna Strang is the owner and Director of a dynamic, one-stop communications company, Promote Communication. “I lead a team with experience in reputation management, marketing, crisis management, advertising and design. Although we’re based in KZN on the North Coast, we work with clients and media based all over South Africa and even overseas,” says Janna. Her hard work and commitment has definitely paid off as Promote Communication has recently received a PRISM award for crisis management.


Opened in 2012, Promote Communication has found success in being a one-stop communications agency that is able to offer clients a wide variety of internal and external communication services thanks to fantastic collaborative partnerships they have established with specialist suppliers. Janna adds, “What clients seem to love the most is that they only have to deal with one person and one company to get all of their communication needs met.”


Something Janna is also passionate about is her family. She comes from a supportive, close-knit family and she lives on the stunning Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate. “My six-year old son, Ethan, is the absolute apple of my eye and the world is undoubtedly a better place with his infectious laugh and beautiful soul. Despite the current challenges that we are faced with due to COVID-19, I feel truly blessed to have an incredible family and friends who are always there to support me through life’s ups and downs.”


Janna loves being based in the Umhlanga area and feels it is so exciting to see head offices of medium to large companies move to the area. “Living and having our offices based here makes the various business and lifestyle opportunities even more accessible to us. In recent years, I have noticed in the business world people’s perception of Durban being changed from a ‘sleepy hollow’ to a creative and affordable hub to tap into. I believe both locally and internationally various industries are seeing the benefits of doing business in Durban and it’s exciting to be a part of.”


Janna works through challenges in a very special way, which is probably the reason for her success!  It probably stems from her time growing up when she used to visit her grandmother (fondly referred to as Gogo Joni) in the school holidays, who used to have a poem called ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling prominently displayed in her house that Janna often used to read. “It has always resonated with me, particularly during more challenging times in the latter part of my life. I would highly recommend people reading it as the message is probably more appropriate now than ever.”


031 825 1244


Leanne Pechey from Matriarch


Single mom of two and incredible businesswoman, Leanne Pechey lives by the words of her Scottish grandfather: “You can do anything as long as you believe in yourself, work hard and never give up. This is the best advice she’s ever been given! Leanne is the founder and leader of Matriarch (originally Hotstuff Marketing), a local marketing agency, and loves spending her free time with her children and entertaining family and friends.


“I consider the people I work with as part of my extended family and I am very proud of the formidable reputation that Matriarch has earned when it comes to delivering solution-solving and impactful activations on time and within budget,” Leanne says. She has worked with huge companies such as Woolworths, Unilever, Beiersdorf, Pioneer Foods and Standard Bank, and her goal for the business is to remain the leaders in their industry. Leanne is also particularly interested in growing cause-related marketing in order to get funding for programmes and initiatives to make meaningful change in South Africa and the world.


Leanne loves Umhlanga as it is a place that attracts many locals and visitors, making it a great area for creating world-class, experiential advertising for their clients. “Umhlanga is a hive of activity with wonderful shopping, restaurants, entertainment and general lifestyle options to choose from. The vibe and atmosphere in the Umhlanga Village makes it a melting pot for inspiration and creativity!”


087 350 1207

Unit 1, Thynk Retail Park, 23 Riverhorse Road, Riverhorse Valley Business Estate, Durban


Sarah Collins from Wonderbag


Sarah Collins has a passion for those less fortunate, and the Wonderbag was born from this deep passion. Inspired by the sense of community and equality instilled in her by Zulu women while growing up, her life’s work is focused on empowering women living below the poverty line through grassroots efforts.


The Wonderbag is a non-electric, portable slow cooker, and Sarah has been focusing the business’s efforts on the impact that Wonderbag can have in the carbon credits market. “Having initially based the business model for Wonderbag in 2008 on the mantra that, “Doing good, is good for business”, I am thrilled at the recent turn of events that has seen the business come full circle again. Wonderbag now offers appealing investment opportunities for heavy carbon producing businesses to offset hundreds of thousands of carbon credits through Wonderbag’s various mitigation projects.”


Why does this inspiring woman love being a businesswoman in Umhlanga? “Many big corporates have moved their head offices to the Umhlanga area so the opportunities to connect and do business here are great! Furthermore, my home and the Wonderbag factory are both on the North Coast, which makes Umhlanga very central.”


Sarah is ultimately driven by a deep sense that every human needs to make a contribution and leave this world a better place. “I really do believe that in business and our communities, the old Zulu proverb still rings true: ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’”


031 536 8220

Instagram: @thewonderbag