#WIB – Q&A with Manuela Dias de Deus, Founding Member Of One-eyed Jack

Can you tell us more about your business?

One-eyed Jack is an award-winning specialist entertainment marketing agency.

We have three key focus areas:
  • PR & influencer marketing
  • Launches & brand activations
  • Sponsorship rights management

I founded the company in 2011. At the helm of this specialist agency, we have won several PRISM Awards for media relations, sponsorship and reputation management; all within the live eventing space. 

Recognized by the industry, I’ve judged the Loeries and am a regular panelist at marketing conferences.

When, how and why did you start your business?

Music and festivals are in my blood, and when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work right?  This is why I chose to study PR, as it’s a qualification that can be applied across various industries.  

After qualifying in Johannesburg, I moved to the UK to realise my passion for live brand experiences and sponsorship and worked at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, VFest and Reading Festival. I’m no stranger to industry events either, having worked on the BAFTA’s, Q Awards, Kerrang Awards and the Mojo Awards (I once had a casual drink with Leonardo di Caprio, appeared in Bridget Jones and hijacked Motörhead’s limo to an afterparty).

Motivated and determined, I moved back to South Africa in 2008 and after a three-year stint as Group Account Director at Ogilvy, I  travelled India and Myanmar for three months, then moved to Cape Town in 2011 to make my own way in the business world and have never looked back. 

What is your role in the business?  

New ideas and new campaigns inspire me.  My role is to procure new business and create new events, which I then hand over to my team to implement and maintain.

Where did you study and what did you study?

Wits Technikon, National Diploma in Public Relations Management.

How did you finance your business?  

When living in the UK I’d saved some money to put down as a deposit on a house when I returned to South Africa.  After working at an ad agency for a few years I realised that going solo would be way more fun, so I took the risk and spent what little money I had on starting my own business instead.

I started One-eyed Jack in my lounge and when I finally moved into an office space and started building a team, I had to borrow money for salaries once or twice as I hadn’t quite mastered my cash flow.  Luckily it all fell into place and we’re now the strongest that we’ve ever been.

Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

I generally scan my mails before heading to the office, then check in with the team and write down the key things that I need to achieve that day.  They’re varied, and range from brainstorming creative solutions for a pitch, to whittling down a multi-million Rand budget, to having a one-on-one with a client. 

When I’m in my home town Cape Town, I spend a lot of time at my desk pulling together proposals, but when I’m in Jo’burg on business (very often), I enjoy the productivity of client and supplier meetings.

How do you balance your home life and your work life?

Balance? What’s balance?  J I’m a single mom, so my time is spent trying to be the best mom I can be to my two-year-old daughter Eden whilst running a business that I love. I try squeeze in long weekends away when I can, as I love the bush, being active outdoors and enjoying an ice-cold G&T. 

I brought my business partner onboard in 2012 which has been an incredible support.  We also have a strong management team, which frees me up to focus on my personal life when I need to, without the business suffering.

What drives you and inspires you?

The better we do, the better we want to do.  I surround myself with like-minded people that inspire and encourage me to always move forward.  I also visit creative seminars and design and innovation events as often as I can, as they always get the creative juices flowing,

I’m a very determined person and won’t take no for an answer.  I take criticism positively and always want to learn, which fuels my productivity too.

A couple of years ago I joined the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) Accelerator programme. I got so much out of the people involved, and it really helped me focus my efforts strategically. As a result, we doubled our revenue in a year.

Where and when do you have your best ideas?

Generally in the early hours of the morning when I’m sipping on my first cup of coffee. The house is quiet, the phones haven’t started ringing and my head is clear.  I enjoy running too, and a lot of thinking happens then too.

Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads?

We get a lot of repeat business and referrals, but the sponsorship side of our business actually generates a lot of PR work for us. We meet with brands to pitch them an event to get involved with, they like our vibe, realise we do PR and event creation too and then contract us to conceptualize and implement their next campaign.

What is next for your business?

I opened another business earlier this year (a female focused festival) which was aimed at profiling the incredible female talent that we have in SA across music, fashion, comedy and art.  Unfortunately our title sponsor pulled out and we had to put the launch on hold, but we’re hoping to get back on track in no time.

What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?

Communicate. Collaborate. Support. 

Communicate: I used to work in a silo, conceptualizing something and then seeing it to fruition, only involving those that needed to be involved.  As my network grew, I realized that when I told clients, colleagues and friends what I was doing, they opened up doors for me and elevated my concept to new heights. It’s very encouraging.

Collaborate: It takes time to find the right strategic partners in this industry, but if you share the same work ethic and company culture, the results through joint ventures or collaborations can be exciting and lucrative.  Working with people that you like is good for the soul.

Support: When I first moved to Cape Town and started up on my own, I was overwhelmed by the support I received from other women in the industry.  Instead of holding their IP close, they gave me advice, shared experiences and referred business my way.  In my experience, supporting fellow entrepreneurs has enriched my life and has broadened my net. 


021 426 5923


IG: @oneeyedjacksa

Twitter: @OneEyedJackSA