When Tamerin Bushby started out as a receptionist at Thokozani Wines, she had no idea how the wine industry would alter the course of her life. The Managing Director of Thokozani, Denise Stubbs, recently called her “one of our greatest success stories”. We caught up with Tamerin to ask about the journey and her next big step.
How did you get your first position at Thokozani?
I started working at Thokozani/Diemersfontein as a receptionist back in Dec 2007, after completing an Advance Diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Tygerberg Hotel School. Some time later I was promoted to the wedding coordinator. I used to shadow the previous coordinator during my first six months there and knew exactly what was going on in her schedule. So when I got promoted, the job was more enjoyable than stressful.
Did you have any interest in the wine industry before?
I had no interest in wine whatsoever before I joined Thokozani/DF back in 2007! My interest was kindled when I joined the team. My focus was on hospitality, but I soon realised I could combine the two (hospitality and wine) and it was such a great way to learn more about the wine industry.
How did your career progress from there?
I’m good at planning and organising, which are two key elements for arranging weddings and functions. I was promoted to Hospitality Manager where the housekeeping staff and reception desk reported directly to me. Then in 2018 I was voted by the Thokozani staff to become one of the directors on Thokozani Staff Holdings. Knowing myself to always be up for a new challenge, I accepted. And what an amazing, informative time it was!
What were your biggest challenges along the way?
I had to quickly adapt to situations along the way, which required a mindset change from being a receptionist to moving into a director’s position. I moved from a junior to a senior level in the blink of the eye. At certain times, I was the youngest on the team and everyone reporting to me was much older, which came with its own challenges.
Did starting out as a receptionist give you a different perspective as director?
That was the best place to start. A lot of the sales come though reception and you interact with people from all walks of life. This is where you begin to learn about the details of the business and also where you promote the company to guests and clients. The director’s role gave me more insight into the financial situation of the company and the challenges the company was facing, whether it be a lockdown, water restrictions, etc. This is where we as a board needs to make huge decisions to take the company to the next level.
Did you have specific mentors or role models?
My father was definitely one of my biggest role models when it comes to business. He worked for a very successful company for over 20 years and when I was in high school, he decided to resign and open up his own business where he had the privilege to follow his own passion for over 15 years. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household where my dad used to talk to us about having your own business and the challenges that go with it. He sadly passed on in July 2016.
Denise Stubbs, Managing Director of Thokozani, surely was surely my greatest mentor. She has invested and believed in me throughout my career and still checks in regularly. This woman really believed in me and opened up so many doors for me. She didn’t just motivate me, but also showed me you can rise above all and achieve any goal you set yourself. I’ve shared so much with her and she’s guided me to the level where I am in my career today.
God also blessed me with two amazing kids and an amazing partner, Kevin. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive home structure. I come home to someone who supports me in everything that I do and someone who always sees the best in me and this makes me want to do more and achieve more within my business and also my family and personal goals.
What are your goals?
I love to explore and learn new things and the best way of doing this is definitely by travelling. My personal goals was to achieve the highest position that I possibly could within the company and along the way to learn as much as I possibly can about the wine and hospitality industry. I’ve travelled and learned so much that I think I’ve reached my personal goals within Thokozani/Diemersfontein.
At the back of my mind I always knew that I wanted to run my own business and along came Covid-19 (lockdown) which opened my mind in so many ways. It made me realise I can run my own company. I had motivational meetings with my partner every night and I’ve realised that there is no better moment then the current. I resigned from Thokozani at the end of Dec 2020 to follow my dreams.
Tell us more about the new business and future plans?
I’ve started my own company called Wine and Event Design which has two legs – an online wine sales platform and an events company. I fell in love with the wine industry and being an events planner is what I enjoy and what I believe I’m good at. By combining the two I can follow my passion for events and never stop learning about wine.
I obviously want to run a successful business and I am currently spending much time marketing and attending as many seminars as possible. I’m also tapping into the international market as I’d like to bring the international brides and grooms back to our wonderful winelands.
Tamerin has some words of encouragement for anyone who’d like to emulate her achievements. “These are simple words with real meaning: passion, passion, passion,” she says. “You must have passion for what you do. Believe in yourself, be open to change and never stop learning. A good support system at home is also needed.”
Tamerin Bushby is a Paarl local and currently resides in Wellington. You can reach her in the following ways: