Lynette Johnson, Founder and Creative Director, House of Basadi, winner of the 2019 Standard Top Women pitching den, Kimberley

Briefly tell us more about yourself and your journey thus far.
I’m a Vega Communication Management graduate and worked in media agencies as a Media Buyer and Out of Home Media Planner and Implementer. I loved working in the creative space and managing clients’ accounts but my time in media was short lived when I moved to Abuja, Nigeria in 2013 with my family. It’s the 5 years spent there that solidified my life’s purpose through the work I did empowering 75 women as Coordinator of a skills development centre. It’s also there that my hobby-turned-sewing-business journey took off as demand for my African print inspired clothing and matching accessories grew within the expat community. Now back in Kimberley, SA as of August 2018 one year old House of Basadi aims to continue making beautiful items yet also contribute positively by empowering disadvantaged women through offering training of its products.

What’s the ethos of your business, House of Basadi?
Basadi means women and through offering our product making skills as a skills development program with the underprivileged women of Kimberley we make these women resourceful, skilled and production orientated. We assist them to develop their human potential and talents to promote entrepreneurship which in turn creates sustainable economic activities for themselves. In essence creating shared value and building an empowered, skilled labour force for the business with employment growth potential.

On your road to success, what have been some of your biggest challenges and successes?
One of my biggest challenges especially on starting out has been managing all aspects of the business myself from admin, marketing, data recording, product creation, etc. I quickly recognized how worn out I became and introduced creative, cost effective ways of reducing some of the workload. Utilising my contacts in outside SA market has proved highly successful resulting in our number 1 hot seller, the foldover clutch purse being a much loved and repeat purchase item. Winning the Standard Bank Top Women Northern Cape pitching den is definitely a notable achievement I did not expect.

Do you find that women often meet different challenges than their male counterparts?
Yes, especially in the workplace, business environment and in many facets of society. Challenges such as equal pay, gender discrimination and sexual harassment etc are more prone especially in a male dominated setting. I’ve personally experience some of these but rose above it by being diplomatic and steadfast in my pursuit to succeed in the workplace instead of allowing it to make me cower.

Besides designing and dressmaking, what are some of your greatest passions in life?
I love to cook, bake and read books on personal development / entrepreneurship. Meeting new people makes life more beautiful and spending time inspiring others through sharing my story gives me great joy.

If you could give your teenage self any advice, what would that be?
To young Lynette I’d say love you for your difference for not all of us can be the same. Don’t fret too much about not fitting in with the cool crowd because self- discovery is a journey so be gentle on yourself as you’re getting to know you. 

Quick-fire questions

Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who choose to get involved by helping those living in the most vulnerable communities. Problems inspire me to think of solutions.

What is your favourite getaway destination?
Locally, Johannesburg (I’m based in Kimberley). Internationally Miami, Florida. The energy

If you could have dinner with any 3 people, who would they be and what would you serve?
I’d love to have dinner with designer, Khosi Nkosi and Paul Simon, founder of YDE. I wish Nelson Mandela could have joined us for the heartfelt storytelling and wisdom sharing. I’d serve a typical 7 colours, Mzansi meal with an Asian flavours tweak in the meat and sides. For dessert I’ll serve my tried and trusted red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
I would relax in a hot tub of lavender oil water, a pastime I enjoy but most recently hardly have or make time for.

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