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Meet the Duo Breaking the Stereotypes About Young Entrepreneurs

Marisa Logan, 29, and Leandi Jamneck, 27, co-founders and directors of Butter Knife PR

Leandi and Marisa studied Public Relations at CPUT, and graduated two years apart. They met while completing an internship at a boutique PR agency and, after working in the industry for a few years, were eager to start their own agency. And so Butter Knife PR was born, which conceptualises and implements creative, personalised campaigns for clients. The brands they represent range from lifestyle and consumer clients to FMCG and corporate entities. Today, with 11 employees, their agency has been selected asaffiliate South African agency for local campaigns by global communications and PR firm Cohn & Wolfe. They have both won the Gold PRISM Best Up-and-Coming PR award (Marisa in 2010 and Leandi in 2011). Butterknife.co.za

On initial concerns…

We were concerned that we would not be taken seriously because of our age – we were 25 and 23 at the time. However, our fears were allayed as soon as we started signing on clients, building a portfolio of reputable brands and winning new business pitches from credible PR agencies that had been established far longer than us.

On challenges…

Our clientele at Butter Knife PR grew quickly and we were faced with having to turn away business as well as recruiting at the same time. Training and mentoring new staff while managing campaigns and client expectations was very challenging. And we still had to make time for running a business successfully – including IT, operations, finance, HR and new business pitches.

On misconceptions of entrepreneurship…

We find that more and more people are starting their own business, which is very inspiring and great for the economy, but there is much more to being an entrepreneur than coming up with a ‘good idea’. It’s about sacrifice, hard work, believing in your business no matter what, rolling with the punches and being prepared to fail but not give up.

On learning lessons…

Marisa: I am often too hard on myself. When running your own business, you’re involved with so many new and different facets that you’re constantly learning and there is always room for improvement. I have learnt to put less pressure on myself and be more content. At Butter Knife PR we are faced with daily challenges and a lot of responsibility, so it’s very hard to find balance and make time for other things that I am passionate about – all while trying not to neglect family and friends.

Leandi: I never thought that I would own my own business at the age of 23; society puts an age to every milestone or chapter in your life. I think I’ve proved it wrong. This might sound like a cliché, but one of the biggest lessons learnt would be never to underestimate yourself or what you’re worth. There is no limit or age attached to success – don’t allow anyone to put you down!

On what SA women entrepreneurs need more of…

Support and a platform to be taken seriously. Female entrepreneurs should be seen as a threat to competitors, as we possess many skills that will see us succeed!

On advice for other entrepreneurs…

Do your research, know your target market well and, more importantly, truly believe in your business before taking the leap. Don’t be discouraged by competitors; instead investigate how you can make your product/service better. Also, be a team player, be willing to help others and make the effort to network. There is a misconception that you have to be cutthroat in order to succeed but the truth is, you need a thick skin and confidence but should never burn bridges or play dirty.

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