#WIB – Q&A With TDMC Strategic Account Director Zandile Dlamini

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1. Can you please tell us more about your business?

My professional journey has been quite dynamic, rooted in Copywriting and Trichology, which is the science of the hair and scalp. I initially focused on leveraging my expertise in Trichology to offer consultations to hair care brands and individuals dealing with hair loss.

This experience allowed me to gain valuable insights into the intricacies of hair care, scalp health and the black consumer. While running my own consulting business, I encountered successes and challenges, prompting me to take a step back. This decision led me to broaden my skill set and eventually transition into a role with a digital agency at The Digital Media Collective. In this position, I was specifically hired for my insights into the black consumer market.

2. When, how and why did you start your business?

I started my consulting business during the lockdown while awaiting graduation. At that time, nobody could graduate, I felt a sense of sadness and frustration, having dedicated so much effort to my studies with nothing to show for it. Despite these feelings, people who had hair loss concerns and different brands continued to approach me for assistance. What began as individuals seeking help also turned into businesses seeking me out, broadening my clientele. It was through a client that I had done some consulting work for in the past, that I came to meet Cheryl Ingram, after two interviews, I was hired at TDMC.

3. What is your role in the business?

I am a Strategic Account director at TDMC, specifically brought in to provide insights on the black consumer and ensure our clients can effectively engage and connect with the black South African consumer. My job entails a combination of strategy and copywriting.

4. Where did you study and what did you study?

I have studied two completely different things: first, copywriting at AAA School of Advertising and then, years later, Trichology through The Trichological Society, based in Romford, London.

5. How did you finance your business?

I just used my own money to kickstart my business. I wanted something that wouldn’t need a lot of cash up front and consulting fit the bill perfectly.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.

I get to work, check my emails, reply to clients and have internal meetings. One of our offerings at TDMC is influencer management. I spend a lot of time finding influencers and liaising with various brand managers to ensure that content creator campaigns run smoothly. I’m still fairly new and finding my feet, so I lean quite heavily on one of my bosses, Nicola Ashe, who has been doing this for a while and I learn from her as much as I can.

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

I have to be quite regimented, or else my life descends into chaos. I have a scheduling app that I use daily which allows me to structure my day down to errands I need to run after work.

8. What drives you and inspires you?

I grew up extremely insecure, a chronic overthinker and I had a particular knack for self-sabotage. I got to a point in my life where I had to make a decision to stop getting in my own way. Right now, that’s what drives me – to be a little better than I was yesterday, to grow more confident and self-assured. I still have days where imposter syndrome takes over or where I completely doubt myself, but I’m committed to overcoming that self-deprecating internal voice. I believe that to succeed at anything, you have to give yourself permission. Until you give yourself permission, life will just constantly move around in circles. So right now, I’m driven by wanting to reach my full potential and make decisions with complete trust in myself. A cool book I recently read was “Rejection Reset” by Scott Alan.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas?

When I read, I learn and anytime I learn something that resonates it gets my brain rolling. I love learning something new and having those lightbulb moments!

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

TDMC manages over 120 retailers and has only ever relied on word of mouth. It’s testament to the relationships built with clients over the last ten years that new business leads are mostly still via word of mouth. Since winning an MMA Award earlier in 2023,  TDMC has been approached as an industry expert to comment on the retail landscape and has appeared in press on numerous occasions.

11. What is next for your business?

Having recently been appointed at TDMC as a Strategic Account Director allows me a great opportunity to understand e-commerce, digital marketing and learn how brands grow and function in such a competitive environment. It’s one thing to have a brand or business, but without understanding the right channels to get to your consumers and the right way to create engagement with them, it’s like shooting in the dark.

During the short space of time that I have been at TDMC, I have learned so much and I am in awe of just how much knowledge the people I work beside have. And when I am ready to move forward in my business, I know that I’ll have insurmountable experience and knowledge in regards to learning how to build and successfully market a business.

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

No matter how naturally skilled you are at something, you have to research—research like your life depends on it! Create a business plan, understand your company’s mission, research industry competitors and try to figure out what sets you apart. There was a point in my life where I had dedicated myself to reading every day. My motivating factor was knowing that I could go to bed having learned at least one new thing. Lastly, business isn’t easy. There’ll be unforeseen pitfalls and some months will look better than others. Don’t be afraid to make hard decisions. 

For more visit: https://tdmc.co.za/