Gladys Sheilla Mpemba is a labour consultant, independent arbitrator, owner of Ice Cherry Boutique, director of Retreat Lodge and Conference Centre, founder of Dream Achievers and sits on a number of schools’ board of management. She is married to Shepherd and has two daughters. She is also proudly a United Methodist congregant.
I reached out to Gladys to find our about her success, pursuing her passion and how she is able to juggle all of her responsibilities.
What inspired you to pursue Retreat Lodge and Conference Centre?
Retreat Lodge & Conference Centre is my husband’s vision, which I have fully embraced and supported from day one. Owning a business gives me no limitations on the profit and opportunities that I can gain.
The repetitive and routine nature of working 8-to-5 does not feed my burning passion for creativity and innovation. [It] felt like doing what society expects of me instead of making a difference in the world. It is through starting our businesses that I got to express my creative ideas and fulfil my dreams.
Tell us about Dream Achievers. What led to its birth?
A fire in my heart told me that I have a strong purpose in the world to help empower women. I gave it a try in July 2017, and it worked when we got a gathering of over 250 ladies who have dreams to achieve. And since then, we have been a bond.
What were your fears when starting out?
Like anyone else, I was anxious as to whether the inaugural event would succeed and if the turnout was going to be good. On the day we launched Dream Achievers on 31st July 2017, the weather was not favourable, but we had an exciting turnout.
Did you have any experience?
Not at all, but I made sure I developed networks and had comprehensive preparations to ensure success.
What were some of your biggest challenges before and while building your business and now? How did you overcome them?
Starting your own business is very much like having a baby. You begin with the seed of an idea and labour to bring it into reality then dedicate yourself to nurturing your creation and helping it grow and [flourish]. Getting into a business without prior knowledge of it was a challenge, but if your direction is more important than your speed, you succeed.
We are first-generation entrepreneurs with no family business mentors to rely on; therefore, the start to business was a challenge.
We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges, and this also applies to business.
I have always had a positive mental attitude, never accepting defeat, looking on the bright side of things, directing my thoughts and getting where I want to go.
I have a good network of colleagues running similar businesses, and we often exchange notes.
I am a strong woman. I dealt with hard times, wiped my tears and managed to pick myself up again. I have grown through the things that were meant to break me and have become stronger. I have God to thank for that.
What keeps you going on tough days?
I tap into technology. For example, instead of driving to a meeting, I use Skype or conferencing technologies.
Prayer keeps me going as my consultancy business has stressing challenges. I also read a lot and I have a policy of learning something new every day.
When the going gets tough, I sometimes take a break.
At times, I work when everyone else is sleeping, and at my consultancy, I put trust in others and delegate.
How do you balance being a mum, wife, professional and public figure?
As a businessperson, mother and dream achiever (by the way, I am still pursuing my other dreams), I have found myself in this position many times, trying to balance my entrepreneurial ventures with my efforts to create a warm and loving environment for my family.
I won’t lie, I have struggled to find harmony between these roles and more than once, one part of my life has been momentarily overshadowed by the demands of the other. However, with practice, I have learnt some lessons that make it easier to create symmetry in my life between these roles.
Balancing business and family is a familiar battle most businesspeople face. I would not be able to do what I do without the support of my spouse and girls.
I travel a lot on business and at times holiday, and I often travel with family.
What do you consider to be some keys to success?
With business, there is no such thing as overnight success. Remember, you are running a marathon and not a sprint.
The following keys help:
- Trust yourself, and be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
- Check your results; see if what you are doing is working.
- Don’t change your vision; stay committed to your goals.
- Keep an open mind; listen to your heart.
- Love what you do, and have fun on the journey.
Do you have some advice for women wanting to pursue their passion?
- Failure is never fatal. It can be overcome. It is not a problem to fail. It is only a problem if one does not learn from their failure. Failure should be seen as a set up for a comeback.
- Time is a limited resource. Everyone has 24 hours each day, no more, no less. One can get back lost money, but you cannot get back time; therefore, prioritise your tasks and strike a balance between your various responsibilities.
- Make time for something you love other than work. It energises and refreshes and enables one to nurture the creative thought that is essential.
- Remember life is not a competition.
- Women who invest in themselves go further.
- Building a successful business takes a lot of risk and entrepreneurs smile.
- All good things come to those who never give up.
- Just be a good person. Love who you can. Help where you can. Give what you can.
- Dreams are like stars – you may never touch them, but if you follow them, they will lead you to your destiny.
- When you admire something about another woman, tell her. Get into the habit of lifting each other up.
- Your dream does not have an expiry date.
- Keep walking through the storm. Your rainbow is waiting on the other side. Strong women are not simply born. They are made by the storms they walk through.
- Don’t believe in luck. Believe in hard work.
- Get around women who talk about vision and ideas, not other people.
- Successful women should have a loyal tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Be a woman who lifts others.
Lastly, we all need friends on this journey as we just feel between. Knowing that we have someone we can rely on if we ever need advice or just knowing they are there is a comfort and gives confidence to keep going.
Keep your fellow women entrepreneur friends close to you and be there for them when they encounter their own challenges or anxieties. After all, that is what friends are for!