My Journey To Success With Businesswoman Getty Gizaw
Ethiopian-born businesswoman Getty Gizaw has successful businesses in New York City as well as in South Africa, she lets us into secret to success
Take us back to your childhood, have you always been entrepreneurial, or did you aspire to a certain career?
When I was eight years old, I had a lemonade stand. Making my own lemonade, setting up a stand and selling it, I think really imparted a strong sense of my ability to create and trade. It was fun, I enjoyed it a lot and was able to make money from it! What could be better? Plus, I met so many people and made some lifelong friends… how is that not awesome??
What inspired the move to New York where you started your media company, G2 Media, Inc,?
I’d travelled all over the world, attending schools in Africa, Europe and Canada. NYC was the inevitable, natural next step for my university education. I couldn’t imagine living in any other city that would be as diverse as NYC.
How did you manage to build a successful company in the US?
I followed my passion. I LOVED school, I LOVE learning. I completed three degrees in university. I used what I learned towards my career. I woke up every day, excited and looking forward to creating various campaigns for our G2 Media, Inc, clients. That passion opened many doors and allowed us to succeed.
What have been some of the highlights of the services you were offering through your company?
G2 Media, Inc, is a marketing, PR and event production company. We landed a contract with a prominent media company in Nigeria. We were able to produce the largest, most successful music and conference events in Africa, touring the biggest names in entertainment, sports, modelling and politics.
Tell us about starting SOHO NYC Salon in South Africa in 2011, what sparked that idea?
My father has lived in SA for over 28 years and I was often visiting him while on school breaks. So, I’d been visiting SA and travelling and seeing the country since childhood. Later on, I was in SA in 2010 for the World Cup, working on the production of the Opening Ceremony. We had various artists in the country to perform and I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a beauty and grooming place that was reflective of SA’s very modern infrastructure. I didn’t want the international talent to buy into the negative stereotypes that are out there about Africa. It was frustrating to not be able to show them that Africa is able to have and operate high-end businesses such as beauty and grooming places. I was personally frustrated at not being able to find a modern, clean, high-end salon that could accommodate my fast-paced schedule in which I wouldn’t need an appointment, and could receive excellent treatments with a strong customer service focus.
And how did you manage to successfully set up shop, especially in a saturated beauty market?
I was relentless and persistent, despite having various doors closed or slammed in my face. No landlord was willing to give me a chance. They said that I’m not South African, yes- I’m Ethiopian but I’m not from the local market and probably don’t understand the local market. I’m not a nail tech, I’ve never worked in beauty, I’ve never worked in retail, I have no credit in SA, I’ve never even taken courses in a beauty school and I have no health or beauty services experience- soooooooo…. Nooooo! I told them that I have common sense and a good idea so that should be enough. I was unrelenting in my belief that my idea would succeed. Once they gave me a chance; I didn’t look back or give them anything to have to go back and question their decision.
What sets SOHO apart from other salons?
I honestly would say that it’s our unrelenting focus and attention to detail, creating an experience for our guests and our love of serving our guests.
You have managed to penetrate into and make a success in the media and beauty markets in two different countries, share with us how and please share tips for local entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in other countries?
I think the only sound advice which I could ever impart is really to follow your passion, stay focused no matter what, learn from all our mistakes and just keep at it. Persistence, consistency and integrity- all PARAMOUNT!
How have you managed to keep the salon successful over the years, and afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic?
I would have to say again, persistence, consistency and integrity.
How big is your team at the salon and how would you describe your management style?
I’m very hands on, I can sometimes micro-manage and continue to try to ease off and trust in our team’s strength and ability. We are a team of approximately 50, currently.
Apart from SOHO, what other business ventures are you part of?
G2 Media still works on various, once-off projects from time to time.
We also have our products company which is producing various nail, skin, body and home goods products, as well. These are products supplied to SOHO.
As an entrepreneur, how would you define success and do you feel you have achieved it?
If you feel like you need to wake up and do something only because you need to make money from it and make a living- that to me is not success.
The freedom to come up with an idea, wake up every morning excited to do it, creating it, having others buy into it, actually trading and generating revenue and profits from it; for me that defines freedom and success. I stay focused and am consistent, persistent and always believe in the importance of integrity. That works for me.
SA is celebrating Women’s Month, how have women played a role in your own success journey and in what way?
How have women NOT played a role?? I am surrounded by incredible women in my family and in my business. Each and every person is so unique, and I thrive on being able to learn and be inspired by each and every one of them every day. That is a blessing! Women to me, are the epitome of strength; we are pillars. Without women there is no life; it’s that simple.
Lastly, what are your success tips for young people?
We have to really LOVE what we do. We have to do it to our best ability, we have to believe in it, we’ve got to stay believing in it despite inevitable hardships, keep at it and focus on always improving! Integrity, persistence, consistence and relentlessness are key ingredients to success.
For more information about SOHO Nails|Beauty|Waxing, visit: www.sohonycsalon.com