I was born in Johannesburg and my mother taught me that life doesn’t come on a silver platter. She told me that you have to work hard to be specialand of course I want to be special! She has always been a single, hard working mum and raised me and my younger brother by herself. It was – maybe because of that – tough love; I had to do a lot on my own from a young age. Now I appreciate it more than I did back then. I have experienced that working hard pays off and I realize more and more how strong she is and that she wanted me to be strong as well.
I started working at Unilever right after graduating from Rhodes University where I did a master in Economics and Management. Unilever has given me the chance to explore what I’m capable of. It’s a company where you can easily be yourself and that made me a self-confident person. I could have worked there forever, but I started thinking about the meaning of success and what makes me really happy. Being successful has nothing to do with being a director one day. Success to me is about creating the life I want and following my dreams whether they meet socially acceptable standards or not. I tend to think about those things more seriously now that I’m 26 and the big 30 is nearing.
Over a year ago I met my boyfriend. It’s true love and in spite of my mum being a very happy single parent, I’m very convinced that I do want to spend my life together with someone. Unlike me he has a very strong bias for action. While I spend time doubting myself and calculating whether to – quit my job, start in media, become a fashion stylist etc. – he just goes for it. We’ve spoken a lot about pursuing our dreams and the right time to go for it. I have always known that I would start my own business one day. He fueled the fire of my childhood dream of having my own restaurant, we made a plan and now we’re about to launch our Shisanyama restaurant ‘SOAL’ in Durban.
Everyone deserves to be special
I had the opportunity to go to University because of my hard working mum. In the next few years I’d like to explore my dream by creating a fabulous and profitable restaurant. My long-term goal is to take care of the people I love. There still is a huge knowledge gap between rich and poor. Black people of my generation are still often the first of their family to go to University and the first to work in a corporate environment. I’d like to bridge that gap for my loved ones financially, but especially with the knowledge I’ve gained so far. Everyone deserves to be special, but some of us still need help reaching for and using the right tools to become just that.
I interviewed Lerato for the website 30to30.com, read more stories there.