Life has a way of taking away from us; but it has the capacity to give, particularly if we stay true to our dreams and aspire for the best. Sharon James, now the managing director and founder of Style Cabin Zimbabwe, a home decor and furniture company that specializes in exclusive lounge suites, modern sleigh beds, headboards, arm chairs and more, was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. This is her story…
My story is one of defying odds and [overcoming] adversity. Many would be forgiven for having written me off at an early age if my life circumstances were anything to go by. I was born on a small farm in Melfort, and I lost my mum when I was only 11 months old. I then went to live with my grandmother, who could barely afford to send me to school. It is only by the grace of God that some organization came to the rescue and paid for my tuition.
Like the old adage says, ‘When it rains it pours,’ my life was hit by one misfortune after another. Life was a bitter pill for me, and even with my orphan status, having lost my mum at an early age, circumstances continued to pile misery on me.
I was only 6 years old when I lost my virginity to a 30+-year-old neighbour of ours. That rape took away my confidence at school, and facing that man every day was torture, but I couldn’t share the sad news with anyone because I did not feel loved enough.
A saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ and I believe the woman that I am today is a direct result of the difficult experiences I had to undergo while growing up. Some days I would just wish to go cry on my mother’s grave, but I didn’t have the comfort and privilege for such excesses. My greatest instinct was survival against all odds.
When I got to Grade 5, my uncle said I should look for someone to marry once I finish my Grade 7 exams. [Since I didn’t] this decree meant I became homeless after writing my Grade 7 exams. I then started working for a headmaster who later asked me to go back to school. I even got scholarships, but it didn’t change a lot because I was still surrounded by people who crushed my confidence. One thing led to another, and even through all the downs of life, I kept my resolve and hoped for a better tomorrow.
It so happened that in 2013, while listening to a radio program, there was an interview about someone called Aaron Wisbero. I got his contacts, called him and talked to him about my love for music. That radio program threw me a lifeline because after getting Aaron’s contacts, I met his producer and joined a gospel music group, which led to so many opportunities to work with a lot of musicians.
I went to Harare, Zimbabwe in 2014 still doing music but more as a passion and pastime…as it was not paying. Besides my love for music, I also loved fashion, mostly red-carpet dresses. I had more than 10 of those dresses, and a friend asked me to rent them out to musicians and models. This idea started working, but it was just for survival. Most clothing companies would hire me as a model or face of their products.
In 2017, I was hired by a company called Danstel Fashions, and I worked there for a year. The money wasn’t enough, and still misfortune pursued me. I got pregnant a few months after getting the job at the fashion house, and life challenges started to pile up, which in a way gave birth to the Style Cabin idea, a business venture that is now fast claiming its space in the local home décor and furniture business.
Getting pregnant meant I had a whole human being coming and in need of my support. This is a child I didn’t want to see suffer like I did.
It so happened that one day I got a call from someone in Marondera who was looking for a TV stand, and I thought to myself, ‘Maybe there is shortage of furniture,’ so I looked for a man who I knew from my previous job. He was making furniture as a start-up. I started advertising that furniture on my WhatsApp stories, and I would give him the jobs, but he was very slow. My tummy was also growing, so I couldn’t do much, but I was trying. Sometimes, I would go for months without customers, but as they came, I always felt like things would get better, and it gave me the resolve to soldier on in the newfound furniture venture.
After giving birth in 2018, my drive to go all out with Style Cabin grew, and I started investing in the business, buying equipment and all. I would leave my child at the nursery when she was only 3 weeks old. I started working hard and buying machines one after the other until I was able to hire two guys and set up a workshop.
In 2019, I hired two more guys and opened a small showroom in town. We added four more carpenters, and with that growth, my motivation was no longer coming from my past and my daughter, but I also had ten people looking up to me. Giving up was no longer an option.
As I continue bringing the perfect aura and beauty into people’s houses and office spaces, I believe Style Cabin Zimbabwe is a brand for generations, and I encourage all progressive women to chase their dreams regardless of circumstances and limitations.
Like Nelson Mandela said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done,’ I believe Style Cabin is going to be providing home décor and furniture solutions for generations to come. We should never allow circumstances to limit us.
My message to women who wake up to make a living and fight to put food on their tables is that they must keep pushing. This is 2021, and I can safely say that at Style Cabin, we are doing great and growing bigger. We want to have presence and delivery all around Zimbabwe. The idea is to be one of the best in Zimbabwe and beyond.
The downs in life must motivate people to chase their dreams. My motivation came from not having anything; it came from poverty. I wanted to fight lack so much that I wanted to create employment for both women and men. I really thank God for the strides we have made and for where we are going. The possibilities are many.