Tammy Lederle is founder and CEO of both Brandnew Creative Agency and Take Charge. She started her own catering business from her mom’s kitchen when she was 19 years old, having learned from the ‘best She Boss ever’ – her mom, who also successfully ran two businesses. Here’s how Lederle baked her own entrepreneurial passion.
Having completed a part-time public relations course, where she learnt the importance of communication and promotion, Lederle joined the marketing diploma course at Red and Yellow School in Cape Town. That’s where she met some of the greatest marketing and advertising minds in the country, worked on incredible projects, was pushed and stretched in ways that were uncomfortable but necessary, and learned to be a team player. But that’s not where it all began.
‘She Boss’ Lederle.
‘She Boss’ Lederle.
Lederle’s entrepreneurial success was preceded by playing school-school in her mom’s kitchen and gathering her 5-year-old friends together in the dining room to hold very serious board meetings. Her first business out of Silwood Cordon Bleu cooking school was Tammy Lederle Catering (TLC), working for private clients and corporates and catering for up to 300 people per event out of her parents’ home kitchen with one assistant. She went on to work as a chef in the six-star Park Hyatt Hotel, cooking for guests like the Gates family, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.
It’s a ‘kitchen passion’ that’s lasted, as the Brandnew office still receives many treats, because Lederle loves baking, despite having moved on to greater things, as she always knew she was an entrepreneur. She also keeps those creative ideas flowing, with her side-line business, Take Charge, flourishing – she stumbled on a product that charges smartphones on the go while in Sydney in 2013 and developed a local line of genuine leather handbags, purses and tablet cases with built-in power banks that charge your phone or tablet from dead to full in just an hour.
But Lederle is by no means alone in her entrepreneurialism, saying SA is “a nation of born entrepreneurs,” as we’re motivated from a young age to be business owners and forge paths where others haven’t ventured before. She falls into this category herself, having started two successful businesses of her own before the age of 20 based on the desire to run her own show and teach others, which prompted her to ‘start my own thing’ as soon as she was able to.
Entrepreneurial lessons from corporates
That’s not to say she’s always followed an entrepreneurial path, as Lederle shares that having worked for corporates for five years – as marketing executive on Seventeen and National Geographic magazines, and later as marketing manager at 8 Ink Media publishing house as well as group marketing manager at Associated Magazines, working on the esteemed Cosmopolitan; House & Leisure; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Marie Claire titles taught her the importance of time and budget-keeping, systems, operations and the need for financial prowess.
That’s important because entrepreneurship forces you to fully commit to your idea, putting your own money, time, energy and heart into the business you’ve created and conceptualised. Lederle says, “It’s quite easy to unemotionally work for someone else, and spend their money and time, but when you decide to be an entrepreneur, you suddenly realise that every ounce of passion, cash, time and thought matters.”
And as the times have changed in our country, so a stronger need for entrepreneurialism has emerged. Lederle says because it’s not as simple as it once was to find a job you really want, so comes the birth of startups by youngsters who figure they may as well enter the real world by kicking off with an idea of their own.
She says the positive side of this – other than the free-thinking, free-spirited humans the culture of entrepreneurialism creates – is that big businesses are putting energy and money into assisting startups to grow and reach their real potential, guiding them with business know-how, networking and basic finance.
Rise of ‘there-isn’t-even-a-box’ thinkers
On how ‘entrepreneur-mindedness’ benefits those in the creative industries in particular, Lederle says, “Having an entrepreneurial mind means that you never see what is, you see what could be. You see potential and opportunities in everything, constantly gauging how things could be done, felt, created, consumed better.”
This means you’re relentlessly curious about new ways of exploring the usual, and generally have a natural born understanding of the way humans react and behave. The benefit of this to the creative industry? There’s an army of there-isn’t-even-a-box- thinkers who ceaselessly chase new avenues and unashamedly forge new paths, instead of following and copying other creators. Lederle says this results in new art, technology, experiential and communication ideas never thought of before, which are often so simple and necessary that we wonder how we didn’t think of the ideas ourselves.
But do you have what it takes? In March 2009, while sitting at a dinner table with family friends, Brandnew Marketing was born when they needed someone to do their marketing for a small hospitality and property brand. Despite Brandnew’s successes along the way, it’s not always easy, and you need to be able to keep going, even when the clock strikes 5pm and the corporate world switches off of ‘work mode’. Lederle adds that no one has it all figured out, stating, “We all look at other entrepreneurs and assume they know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re headed next, but when you sit down and have an honest, authentic chat, you realise that everyone’s just winging it and hoping for the best.”
Lederle lists the following qualities of a good entrepreneur:
A drive to succeed, despite the inevitable obstacles and set-backs that arise.
A natural curiosity for how things work and how people behave. Excellent entrepreneurs would make the best post-crime scene witnesses, because they notice everything on the scene prior to the crime: The waitresses’ strange hairstyle, the off kerning on the menu, the wilting pot plant in the corner, the way the man at the back seemed uncomfortable in his own skin, etc.
The ability to put aside your ego and ask questions and advice from those who know more and have more experience than you.
The open mind to read, learn and absorb information that’ll make you a better business owner.
Leadership skills that mean you work in the trenches with your staff/team, instead of delegating and expecting them to do it all.