Founder Getnon Perfect Stitch and Trim
Getrude Nonhlanhla Ndlovu is the founder of a company called Getnon Perfect Stitch and Trim.
The name, she says means, “I get what I want, and no-one can stop me.” This name well represents Getrude’s dynamic approach to all her endeavours. Her husband died when their children were young, so she has been a single mother to her five children for most of their lives, and now has 15 grandchildren.
Getrude explained that her sewing career started from an early age. She was 10 years old when her mother taught her to sew on a manual sewing machine and she was given sewing tasks to complete. Getrude commented that as these tasks stopped her from playing, she used to feel resentful. Now, she has realised that her mother assisted in developing a talent in her, which has served her well.
This talent is especially relevant as Getrude never attended school. During the early years of her marriage, Getrude lived in Hammarsdale and got a job as a machinist in the textile industry manufacturing car airbags.
Getrude worked there for six years and became a team leader. When she was retrenched, due to the company’s closure, she bought two industrial machines and worked at home doing alterations and making church uniforms. In 2018 she decided to return to factory work because business was very slow.
A pivotal role
Getrude’s successful application for a job as a qualified machinist resulted in her obtaining a position as a causal worker at the Wonderbag™ factory in Tongaat. The Wonderbag is an award winning non-electric slow cooker that uses heat retention technology to continue cooking food once removed from the heat source. Importantly, the Wonderbag business is owned by Sarah Collins, who has played a pivotal role in Getrude’s journey.
“In 2019, Sarah came to the factory with questionnaires asking the staff how the company could be improved. The question asking how she could improve her company caught my attention,” explained Getrude. “I said that I wanted to open my own small factory to manufacture bags and supply them back to Wonderbag. Sarah accepted that request, without hesitating, because she trusted me and because she had a lot of orders for the bags.”
In January 2020 Getrude found a site for her factory, and Sarah contributed two industrial machines. Getrude hired four machinists and two general workers to clean the bags. Initially, Getrude appointed a production manager while she continued with her job at the Wonderbag factory. However, she said this manager failed in his role and she was forced to leave Wonderbag to manage her business.
Getrude added that Sarah was very supportive of her endeavour. “Sarah is a wonderful person who has helped make me, she is my role model. Sarah is very supportive because when I need help, she’s a shoulder to cry on.” Her factory, says Getrude, now supplies 1500 bags per week, 6 000 per month, and she has 28 staff members.
Getrude has experienced many challenges in establishing her business. Covid was an initial problem and the business had to close. Loadshedding has also had an impact as during these times, the machinists cannot operate. When they cannot work then there no pay.
Another problem that Getrude has experienced is dealing with staff from different backgrounds. She says that her staff do not always have the same insights, so she needs to communicate with them and encourage them to work as a team. “I give them the advice that there must be no fighting in the socialising outside of the workplace to avoid conflict.”
In addition, says Getrude, she leads by example. “I’m still a machinist. If there’s someone who is absent, I sit down and do my job to reach the target. I’m not a boss to them, I’m their friend. I’m their mother. They call me Granny, Gogo. I’m that person they can go to for help.”
More job opportunities
Although Getrude plans to continue to work for Sarah, she is always looking for possibilities to open more businesses, to employ more staff and to give more job opportunities through creating employment. She explained that she would like to open a bakery in the rural area where she was born as bread is very scarce there.
Getrude says that she is very driven and a very strong person who always gives of her best. She added, “I have never given up on my dreams and even if you fail – you shouldn’t give up.”
In advising young people Getrude would say that they should not stay in one place and hold only one job. “They must keep on thinking what they going to do to move on with their lives, especially while they are still young. I advise them to work with me, but they must do something else to earn some money, and not to rely only on what I’m paying them.”
Getrude is very community minded and explains that she is open hearted with a strong desire to uplift the people around her especially those who are less fortunate. She says, “I want to collect all the young people to give them jobs. I like to help the community. If someone comes and cries Gogo, I’m hungry, I need some money, then my heart is very open, and my hands are open.”
In addition, Getrude is an active participant in her church and is contributing to the costs of a new building. She added that she trusts God a lot and each day, at the factory before work, they pray to God to be with them, to guide and protect them.
In conclusion, Getrude commented that she is very happy and excited to be part of the KZN Top Business Women initiative especially as it is reinforcing herself as a role model in her community and that her story will be shared to motivate other people to succeed.