A great idea fuelled by passion and purpose is the Holy Grail for many a successful entrepreneur.
For Durban’s Kate Snell, a mission to bring her husband home for good has impacted positively on local, small business. The 43-year old Glenwood mum-of-two owns The Office, a shared co-working space in Morningside. It is a business she began as “an exit strategy” for husband, Quintin, who works as a commercial diver in the offshore industry. For the past 14 years, Quintin has been away from his wife and two young daughters for nine months each year.
She made it happen! Durban mum and wife, Kate Snell, is living her entrepreneurial dream with The Office – a shared, co-working space in Morningside that began as a project to bring her husband home from his offshore job, for good.
Two years ago, having had enough of juggling single parenthood with her nanny placement and training business, Edubabe, Kate birthed Project #BringDadHome. “The lightbulb moment came in mid-2016 when we moved into our home in Glenwood,” explains Kate. “The area had no internet coverage and all of a sudden I was running from coffee shop to coffee shop trying to get some work done. If only there was a professional place I could just go for a day to sort my email, print candidate CV’s and conduct interviews and training. The rest is history.”
For problem-solver Kate, failure was not an option. “#BringDadHome was – and still is – a theme in our home. We discussed it with our kids even before we went ahead with plans for The Office. We talked to them about finances being tighter, about access to mom being less and more aftercare at school, all with the clear vision of having dad/husband free of the offshore industry commitment, free to stay home with us, to attend sports days and talent shows, here to celebrate birthdays and holidays. And here long enough to relax without the dreaded countdown until we have to drop him off at the airport again.”
Now eight months old, The Office, situated in Innes Road, is a thriving facility that is popular with freelancers, digital nomads, consultants, solopreneurs, mompreneurs, academics, creatives and out-of-towners on business who tap into the venue’s uncapped Wi-Fi, flexibility of access, drop-in hot-desks and access to great local business networks.
“The fact that The Office is now up-and-running brings my daughters and I a step closer to having Quintin quit his offshore job and head home to help manage the business. The fact that this #BringDadHome project is simultaneously making a positive impact and is helping drive meaningful change among non-corporates who service our economy, is an unbelievable feeling,” says Kate.
The UKZN BCom Marketing and Economics graduate has tackled the #BringDadHome initiative with the same tenacity and resilience she displayed when her parents immigrated to South Africa from Poland in 1991. “Nothing is easy when you are 16 and uprooted against your will to move continents to a place where you do not speak the language,” reminisces Kate. “So I learned the value of hard work, adaptability, tolerance and humility since it was only a few children in my school who had the patience to be friends with the foreign girl who spoke no English.”
Now, almost two years into her mission to bring Quintin home for good, Kate is using Project #BringDadHome to teach daughters Olivia, six, and Sarah, nine, valuable life lessons. “My success can pave the way for others. I want to show my children that academic/corporate route is not the only option. That a deep belief in something can translate into a profitable sustainable enterprise. I was also deeply frustrated by the red tape of the big corporations I worked for before – I have many, often unorthodox ideas, and in my own business there is no one to prevent me from trying these out.”
It is this entrepreneurial spirit that is reflective in the community that frequents The Office and for Kate it is a minefield of motivation. “I find inspiration daily just from the people that I come in contact with via The Office – ordinary authentic people with extraordinary stories of determination, vision, tenacity and perseverance in face of great odds. I take great comfort in knowing that I do not have to be Tony Robbins or Richard Branson to make a difference in my corner of the world.”
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