Alice Dlamini’s story

My journey with Dawie Roodt has been stretching, and has truly forced me to reassess what I was doing and why I was doing what I thought was right. Oftentimes, we allow circumstances to push us into doing things we don’t enjoy doing – and I was not liking who I was, and where I was headed, which was nowhere, if I am honest with myself.

I went through a period of what I would like to call an ‘internal clean-up’ process – my husband likens it to ‘colon hydrotherapy’ – a total cleansing session. I had to do this! Not only was I going nowhere, I was headed for depression.

Once I understood what was wrong in my life, I could then re-evaluate what was not working and what needed to go. Though it may sound simplistic, it was not. It was a tough three month’s rehabilitation process. I had lost who I was prior to that. Talking to Dawie, and his sharing his success stories, not only in business but in life, made me understand that it is actually quite OK – no, it is great! – to fail, because then you have only two decisions: stay where you are and blame life, people, South Africa, the president; or realise that rock bottom meant I needed to use that to my advantage and bounce back up.

I didn’t know how long it would take and I still don’t. I had no idea how hard and painful it would be to use the floor to propel myself up, but I gave it a go. I have done that and am still doing that. Let me tell you something interesting: the moment I stopped caring about others’ opinion of me regarding ‘success’ and where I was headed, that was the moment I realised my true potential. I had hit rock bottom and I had nothing more to lose. Now, I am in a place and space where I am doing the things that I only thought the most outrageously gifted people could do.

Dawie often spoke of Alice’s Kitchen when I started my food business. There were twists and turns, but, eventually, I started beekeeping and developed the brand, Alice’s Honey. Dawie may not realise this, but his fish business got me going. I started off buying honey for myself and friends from a local beekeeper whom I got to know well, because good honey is difficult to find. Then I saw a market and started buying to sell. Back then, I had no labels – just a plain bottle.

Slowly, with the profits made, I was able to have my label designed and printed to look more professional. Then I managed to buy one hive. I now own 21 hives, I have re-designed barcoded labels, and I’m selling privately and in two Spars in Johannesburg.

I have also expanded and differentiated Alice’s Honey to include creamed honey, and infused (chilli, cinnamon, allspice, lemon, ginger, rosemary) honey for hotels. This hotel offering is in collaboration with Lisa Raleigh.

I am also working on an urban agriculture development programme to have rooftop vegetable gardens with beehives, because this is what Alice’s Honey is all about:

1. Communication and education about bees and their importance to life and the environment, because bees pollinate approximately 75% of our food. Without bees, the fauna and flora would die, and human beings would cease to exist.

2. Increased flora means more oxygen, thus impacting oxygen and carbon dioxide levels –reducing the effects of global warming.

3. Bees increase food production naturally, and this has an impact on global hunger and food supply.

4. Beekeeping and agriculture are the easiest forms of job creation. In South Africa, it is important for empowerment and skills development. South Africa is a labour-intense country due to the low levels of literacy. Hence this is one of many solutions to reduce unemployment.

So, in a nutshell, if Dawie hadn’t shared his experiences and allowed me to fail – so I could get up and get out there – I would not be where I am right now, looking at all these possibilities and doing something about it.

I am grateful to The Mentorship Challenge for allowing me to be a part of this special programme, and to Dawie Roodt, who will never realise the impact he has made.

Alice Dlamini

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