I would normally interview people who have been at SoloFLAMENCO for a while, but this is not the case with Toni Stuart who joined our studio only this year.
BUT TONI IS A POET !
And she will also be appearing on Wednesday 5 September with dancer, choreographer and dramaturge Ella Mesma in PAPYLLON at the Fugard Theatre, as part of the Open Book Festival.
Fadziso Choto: unpretentious drop-dead gorgeous girl who is a speech therapist and founder-owner of Bushflower.co.za artisanal beauty range … and this girl can Flamenco!
Our studio is filled with extraordinary people and inspiring souls that have chosen to prioritise flamenco in their already busy lives, hence the decision to feature student Anna Geldenhuys.
What strikes me about Anna is her down-to-earth and absolute unpretentious persona. She is known as the mermaid in class with her long blond locks, bubbly smile and is always game for a glass of Champagne to celebrate life.
Some might be surprised to learn that she is an entrepreneur driving a very successful bridal shop, factory and online store, supplying various independent boutique stores as well as Spree.co.za.
She started with modest beginnings in her mom’s kitchen, where she would experiment with dyeing techniques on beach skirts. After 10 years of committed work, her brand Jacoba is more successful than ever.
Personally I think Anna must also be a master of time management that many businesses (and people) can learn from, because it is super rare for her to ever be late or miss a class! She has even created a new wardrobe for us with a 48 hour notice period, and still didn’t miss her classes that week!
What Inspired you to start your own clothing brand?
My Mom was a sewing teacher, it’s in my blood! My first essay in Sub A was about my clothing shop that I was going to open when I grew up.
I started by making dip-dyed and hand beaded beach skirts that I sold at Greenmarket Square, but I got bored. I realised that there was a gap in the market for evening and cocktail dresses for boutiques and that was the start of the Jacoba brand.In the beginning I did everything myself and will never forget the relief when I hired my first seamstress! A few years into supplying boutiques, I opened my own shop and the rest is history.
I love business and being an entrepreneur: having the freedom that comes with it to be whatever and wherever you want to be. I also love the challenges, risks and victories that come with the territory.
What do you love most about your job?
I love creating beautiful dresses that suit all figures, it is like solving a puzzle. We design for bodies not trends. It’s almost like figuring out a puzzle when I design, to create dresses for all body types and sizes. I love the challenge of it. Working with my staff is also a big motivator, I believe that you should always try to be the best you can be, but do it while having fun and lots of laughs. I also love it when we hear from clients that were happy with our service. That’s the best!
I saw a flamenco show in Seville and really loved it. I never realized how hard it actually is until I had started, but I was in love from the first class!
Tell us your magic formula for time management
Eeeermmm…It helps being a Virgo where a natural flair for planning (read: control) comes standard. Throw in a passion for life and a healthy dose of Calvinistic guilt and Bob’s your uncle hahaha! I guess I just love everything I do, so I have to fit it all in.
What has Flamenco taught you anything?
Tanya always manages to make our dance classes a metaphor for life, on top of pushing us past our comfort zones!
My favorite lessons from her: “If you don’t think about it, you can do it. If you think about it you mess it up. Don’t think!” or “Don’t obsticulate yourself”!!!
And also that you don’t have to get something right the first time, you will eventually if you keep on trying. Just enjoy the process…very important lesson for a perfectionist!
What is the best part about coming to class?
The people! And when there’s Champagne and cupcakes afterwards…!
What would you like to be in your next life?
A professional dancer or singer! I think it must be the best job ever.
Some time ago, actually many many years ago, I wanted to start a SoloFLAMENCO monthly newsletter, but somehow we are always too busy … so to keep it quick and easy, we are going the blog route ...