Local business owner on embracing her femininity in a male-dominated industry

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Founder of Musgrave Crafted Spirits, Simone Musgrave. Image provided by Enhance PR
Founder of Musgrave Crafted Spirits, Simone Musgrave. Image provided by Enhance PR
  • Simone Musgrave is the founder of Musgrave Crafted Spirits, a business idea that was launched in 2015.
  • Her experience in corporate South Africa spans more than 20 years, particularly in the retail business. 
  • She has always taken on male-dominated environments with confidence and embraced her femininity.

The founder of Musgrave Crafted Spirits, Simone Musgrave, has been swimming against the tide in her career.

From her 20 years of experience in corporate South Africa to a male-dominated environment and owning her crafted spirits brand. 

But she tells W24 she developed tools to be noticed in this world and equally embrace being a woman. 

"Mostly, I find if you are honest, confident, maintain your femininity and use its strength as a woman you have more space to grow and thrive than the men do in their world," she says. 

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With all the challenges that come with her entrepreneurial journey, Simone would not have it any other way.

"Being an entrepreneur is as thrilling as it is difficult, but seeing all the hard work succeed as a small brand, but up next to the big brands is so rewarding and intoxicating it just keeps bringing me back and pushing harder. The highs are definitely the consumer reactions.

"It is rewarding when our consumers love our products, share their Musgrave moments on social media, and send us messages of how much they love Musgrave. The lows are the trade environments where we are small players, and we don't have the muscle to do what the big liquor companies can do."

career, work, women in business, entrepreneurship
Musgrave Crafted Spirits founder Simone Musgrave's entrepreneurial journey has been thrilling and rewarding. Image provided by Enhance PR

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While working as a general manager of The RCL group innovation hub, a position she occupied for 10 years, and as ideas and insight manager for a further three years, Simone was involved on all levels of innovation and strategy.

She travelled the globe to scout ideas and approaches, analysing and applying trends, predicting trends and product directions. On one of those trips, it was then that the idea to launch Musgrave Gin was born.  

She shares advice about starting a business as a woman in South Africa so more women can take charge of their financial futures.

"Owning your financial future is freedom, and it's about time more women step into their power and take control of their destinies. Every single one of us is capable," she says. 

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women in business, success, entrepreneur, career,
Simone Musgrave has never felt her need to shrink her femininity to compete in male-dominated environments. Image provided by Enhance PR

Here are pointers from her successful journey

Coming up with a great business idea

Many people get stuck on this point. So instead of brainstorming business ideas that could make you money or that you have experience in, first try to figure out what consumers need and find a way to solve it.

Also, consider what excites consumers and figure out how you can make a difference in their lives. Then tap into your talents and passions and see if you can do and offer as a solution. As a trendwatcher in the food industry at my previous company, I knew I had a knack for spotting up-and-coming trends. And so, I paid close attention to what was happening in this sector and for anything I could bring to South Africa that would make an impact and be an opportunity for a business. 

My idea to start a gin brand was born out of my understanding of brands and product. Ideas are essentially things you feel and understand rather than sit down and create. If your passion, product, and idea has been given all your energy and thought, then the money will come. You must worry about making money from your idea. This is always a consideration in any idea. 

Embrace business fundamentals

Not understanding money can quickly result in the downfall of your business. And don't try to kid yourself; many men also don't understand how to handle money.

The best thing I ever did was employ someone who could help me, and make sure you are honest about your capabilities. Ask for explanations a million times but make sure you understand your costings and margins.

Once money begins to come in a rush to grow too quickly either. It is what many entrepreneurs do, as it can feel empowering to have your own money. I recommend building up your business slowly, and not having a lot of overheads.

Some people rush off and spend a lot of money on building an elaborate website, or on office space and furniture too, even before they have any customers. Don't do this. Keep it simple and negotiate yourself into the best deals always. Ask for terms, ask for less all the time. One of my rules is to never give away consignment stock as this can destroy your cash flow. A deal is only worth it if it works on your terms and your capabilities.

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Step into your power   

Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman and what women have that is unique and powerful is their femininity. Even though women have made strides in the workplace, they are still not backing themselves enough and they seem to think they need to be just as good as men if not better.

Owning your femininity is how you'll distinguish yourself as a leader and a business owner and will set you on the right path for future success. Sadly, many men are intimidated by powerful women who will try to discourage you on your path to financial independence and even stop you from pursuing your business ideas.

If confronted with this situation the best thing you can do is to avoid trying to beat them by being like them, and rather tap into what is essentially your superpower: femininity. Women are naturally gifted leaders thanks to their brilliant ability to multi-task. They can get a lot more done in a fraction of the time. Believe in yourself and you will go far.   

Finding opportunities in a world dominated by men 

It might feel like there is a solution for everything, and there are no unique business ideas left for you to tap into. The opportunity lies in finding ways to make people feel free and in charge of their own choices.

We are so disempowered by governments globally that where we can feel we are making our own choices is where the opportunity lies by producing products and offering services that give us freedom to feel empowered.

In the case of my business, I launched Musgrave Pink Gin to appeal to women and their love of beautiful things in a classically male-dominated category. It worked because it made women feel empowered. Remember that people buy with their eyes and emotions so if you can tap into that and try to create happiness and excitement you may just have a winning formula. 

Additional information: Enhance PR

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