Shashi, for our readers who may not be acquainted with you, tell us a bit about yourself, background and family upbringing.
I am a South African television presenter, model, actress, MC and entrepreneur. I was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, matriculating from Alexander Road High School in 1997. I then moved to Johannesburg to study chiropractic medicine, which I completed in 2007 at the University of Johannesburg. I have one older sister Antosh who is a dentist and mother to my beautiful niece Niya. Our parents raised us to be hardworking and disciplined in a loving environment.
Beautiful! Share your journey with us on how you started Alushi Models.
When I started as a young model it was almost impossible to find an agency that would represent me. At that time, model agencies in South Africa were very strict about only taking girls over 1,73cm and a size 0. After having gained experience in the industry, I really began to feel that this was a dated concept of what a model should be and decided to open up my own agency to represent a broader scope of models, called Alushi.
That was nine years ago with just 10 models to start with. We know represent over 200 models, and I am very proud of the fact that we were a ground-breaker in changing that stereotype of what a model should be. Most agencies now too represent diversity in people and I feel in my own little way I have contributed to that growth in beauty standards in this country.
That’s amazing! As a businesswoman and entrepreneur, what motivates you to get out of bed every day?
I’m very goal driven and knowing that I have so much more to achieve just keeps me going. I’m far from content and the desire to master my craft keeps me motivated! Also what I love about my job is that no two days are the same. One day could be spent in the office working behind the desk, another in a client meeting or on location shooting.
Sounds exciting! So what qualifications have you obtained to date? And how has that assisted you with your current business?
I studied medicine and the discipline of it really prepared me for the life of an entrepreneur. It’s helped me to be consistent and focused, and to pay attention to detail.
Awesome! Do you have mentors to assist you?
My mother has been a huge mentor and advisor along the way; her advice and life lessons have really moulded me on this journey and allowed me to think through every stage.
Stunning! So how do you upscale your skills and abilities to ensure that you’re always on top of your game?
I attend workshops, events and conferences in both the beauty and fashion industries to ensure I not only keep myself skilled and relevant but also to stay abreast of industry trends. I also feel it’s important to align yourself in business with people who have skills that complement yours and complete areas you may be personally lacking in. This way you get to learn whilst ensuring your business benefits from their skill set too.
So true! Share 5 life lessons that you’ll never forget from starting and maintaining businesses.
- There is nothing more powerful than setting goals. I’ve always been a very goal-orientated person. I believe in having short- and long-term goals. Health, wealth and business, spiritual and social.
- I’m a big fan of planning by writing things down. As important as strategy is, it’s critical to make sure that you’re meeting your goals on a day-to-day basis.
- Networking has been vital in my career. The runner you were rude to today could be the director whose making the decision on whether on not to involve you in the next project.
- I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain your integrity and be ethical in all that you do. Taking moral shortcuts or having sub-standard business practices will always derail you in the long run.
- Above all for me is service, giving a helping hand and paying it forward. I’m currently working on a show called The Domino Effect for Massiv Metro online radio and it focuses on how we can change people’s lives one person at a time starting with us doing one good deed and allowing the domino effect to take place.
What challenges did you face on starting your businesses and how did you overcome them?
A lot of industries are a closed community and it can take time for people to accept and welcome you. I’ve always had to learn my skills from scratch in both businesses because despite being a model or a girl who loved the business of beauty, I had to learn actual new skills to be able to perform and participate in both my businesses. I always start by being hands-on and ensuring I can fulfil the main roles of my businesses.
That’s fascinating! Do tell us about the obstacles you faced to be where you are in terms of your businesses and advancing them.
Initially, with Alushi, I had to overcome the typecast parameters that existed in the industry. My desire to introduce a non-stereotypical model and focus on more than just height met with quite a few roadblocks and adverse reactions. However, I stuck to my guns and worked hard to show that because we all come in different shapes and forms there was a definite need to represent every type of man and woman.
With the Laser Beautique I had to undergo significant training and also secure state-of-the-art machinery which was a huge financial challenge. I was mainly able to overcome this by being disciplined enough to save and avoid bank loans, as well as having the guts to follow my vision regardless of industry norms.
Fabulous! So how do you balance your personal life with your career and finding “me time”?
It’s important to prioritise because one day when all the lights and cameras stop flashing you will always have your family, friends and personal life so it should come first as often as possible. Planning your days is key to this and I keep an iron-tight diary for this very reason. A lot of my work requires me to be fresh-faced and energetic so I make sure to get enough R and R and take good care of myself. The best way to de-stress for me is maintaining my SWEAT 1000 classes, and letting off steam that way.
What do you do to relax and unwind after a long, HARD day?
Most people don’t know that I’m really a homebody and the best thing for me is to unwind with a good series or book in bed… it’s my most precious and valued time to relax with loved ones.
Share your guidelines with young women who wish to follow in your footsteps of starting a business.
Don’t neglect the basics… good old fashioned hard work coupled with my five life lessons above have helped me on my journey.
Share some words of wisdom, insights and quotes that you live by every day.
I believe in “oneness”, we are all connected at the end of the day and it’s so important to treat each person as such. I also always I aspire to be the change I want to see, as stated so eloquently by Gandhi.
Which famous women inspire you and why?
Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi (born October 28, 1955) is an Indian American business executive and the current chairperson and chief executive officer of PepsiCo. She has consistently ranked among the world’s 100 most powerful women. She is dynamic and truly inspiring, showing me that I’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of what I can accomplish in this life.
What legacy do you wish to leave behind as a phenomenal woman?
Above all I want to be able to show that you can achieve anything with sheer determination, hard work and perseverance. As a woman I feel honoured to have lived in such a time as this, where I am able to be independent and pursue my dreams against all odds.