MEET MICHELLE D - PTA entrepreneur extraordinaire.
Michelle D is a 34 year old “Boss Babe” as she likes to call herself; a former TV Presenter & Model, an all-round coffee lover and dog-mom!
This dynamic lady grew up on stage and behind the camera. From TV presenting jobs, to modelling, Michelle was born to be in the spotlight. In 2012, Michelle decided to take her love of shopping and her obsession with handbags and turn it into a business, Macaroon Collection.
Tell us about your company Macaroon Collection?
Macaroon Collection brings the best of South African designer jewellery, handbags and travel bags to those who seek to make a statement. We are especially proud to be the store of choice when buying premium leather bags.
We strive to support our local entrepreneurs and designers by stocking locally produced ranges, thus making our store a complete collection of home grown products - and we promise to bring our clients so many more exciting ranges.
Macaroon Collection is all about finding that singular item which is an indulgent expression of a person’s personality.
You are a former TV presenter, and model - what made you give up a life in the entertainment industry?
Life is about choices – I absolutely LOVED the time as a kid on TV. Was back in the days before SABC. And I remember running around in the wardrobe room, recording the songs we sang in the studios, etc. Had SO MUCH FUN. But in Grade 2 it came to light that I had a severe dyslexia, and my parents decided that it was more important for me to focus on my occupational therapy and remedial (a girl has to learn to read after all) than that of a TV career. I continued with my performing arts as extramural activities though.
When it came time to study, I felt a good education was irreplaceable and I pursued on my BCom degree with great focus. And then went straight into starting up my wedding planning business BUT the entertainment industry always called me back. Between ad-hoc modelling jobs and TV presenting opportunities that came my way I decided to enjoy whatever crossed my path. And now …. another great opportunity has come my way again and I am thrilled to be back behind the cameras again.
What makes the fashion industry one that you enjoy?
I have had a thing for shopping since I was a teen. I don’t know what it is but shopping and fashion just gets me all excited. I do not by any means consider myself a fashionista but I think it has to do with pretty things. I also enjoy the pace of it – the new trends that come out with every season. I love the way it evolves from season to season (that which is bubbling under the surface this season just explodes the next).
I love collaborating with the designers I work with – gauging what the consumers are liking, what is not so hot any more … what is happening the Europe and what will trickle into our industry here.
And then I have to say that I love working with clients – it is so interesting to me to see how tastes differ. What I like compared to what the client likes, and also the difference from one client to the next. As our philosophy at Macaroon Collection goes … Macaroon Collection is all about finding that singular item which is an indulgent expression of a person’s personality” and I truly do enjoy that adventure of finding that item for each and every client.
Describe a typical day in the life of Michelle?
Typically I start my day off with a coffee (a good cuppa sets the tone for a good day). I then check my morning mails and get myself out of the house and to the office.
A large part of my working day is admin and client relations – getting orders out, helping clients who pop by the showroom, managing stock arrivals, meeting suppliers to view ranges, etc. There is never a dull moment when it comes to my work life – and there is never a day that is the same.
After a busy day at the showroom, I look forward to going home and going for a run. Nothing clears the mind (and stirs up the idea machine) like a good run. I then typically spend some time in the garden with my dogs and then either cook up something for dinner or catch up with a friend over a glass of wine.
When did you first discover your passion for fashion and accessories?
As I mention, I have always loved shopping. For my 16th birthday my mom spoilt me and took me shopping at the newly renovated Menlyn Shopping Centre. It was one of the best birthdays I ever had. And I think it kind of bit me there. Handbags and shoes is where my passion lead to and when I decided to move out of the wedding industry, the natural progression was to take my obsession with bags and turn it into a business.
Where do you import your products from?
I try not to import. 90% of my products are LOCAL entrepreneurs and I am proud to say so. All my bags I currently stock, as well has my clothing ranges, are all local.
There are a few industries that still need some development in RSA. For example, the shoe industry. Leather shoe manufacturing has grown nicely over the last few years and I am so excited about that. But, I do stock HUNTER boots and FITFLOP. Both imported but both quality products with no comparative brands made in South Africa.
We have such amazing talent and brands from South Africa and I like to support and promote our local products before I consider an imported competitor.
Do you believe running an online business requires specialised skills?
I don’t believe you need a special skill set to run an online business. I have designed and managed my website / online store in-house. Everything I know about my business has been self-taught. And if I didn’t know something, I made it my business to research it or find someone who does know and ask them.
I do believe that what a person does need, and this is for any business, is passion and perseverance. If you have those two traits you can make a success of anything.
What are some of the challenges faced within the online business industry?
Within my business I find two challenges
1. Our online industry is still very under developed. Only a few years ago when people found out that I had an online shop they would ask me “do you make money that way”. It was just the other day that online shopping was still a very abstract concept in South Africa. It is growing nicely and I am very excited to see where it is going. But South Africans are still very cautious when it comes to online shopping. I still often get client who don’t like the idea of putting their credit card details into the payment gateway when having to pay and I do get phone calls from people first wanting to verify “that we are a legitimate company” and not a scam. So TRUST is an issue holding the industry back from its full potential.
2. Sadly – life would be so much easier for the online industry if we had a reliable and efficient postal system. Abroad you order something and it gets delivered by the postal service within a day or two. Here unfortunately we don’t trust the postal service and thus rely heavily on courier companies – and courier is unfortunately more expensive.
Would you ever consider going back into television?
Of course yes – in a heartbeat!
Which local or international TV star do you admire, and why?
Reece Witherspoon – I just love her career progression. From child actor to movie (and now TV) star, producer, mom and all round super woman. She just proves that with passion and hard work (and the right people by your side) you can do everything and anything.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start an online business?
Decide what excites you – if you are not passionate about what you are selling online you have made your first mistake. Secondly, start small … even amazon started small. And lastly, know that it is not an overnight success story.
What is one item you never leave the house without?
My lip gloss (yes such a girl thing).
Lastly, what is one must-have fashion accessory for summer?
Sunscreen … if I have to be responsible. Your face is an investment. I never leave the house without my CF Suncare! But, if I have to be a fashionista – a good big pair of tassel earrings.