“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
Sandhya Singh and Raksha Mahabeer are two passionate, creative individuals who met in the corporate world but yearned for entrepreneurial success. Today, they are the co-owners of SummerTime, a creative studio based in Johannesburg, specialising in graphic design, brand development and marketing support for the SMME and corporate markets. With a philosophy and understanding of attention to detail, the SummerTime team’s differentiating factor is their attitude towards good customer service and solid relationship building. From courteously answering telephone calls to a fast turnaround time, Sandhya and Raksha believe maintaining service standards as a fundamental business practice is the reason for their repeat clientele and by-word-of-mouth referrals.
Starting SummerTime and growing it into a sustainable business has certainly not been easy for Sandhya and Raksha. After an initial ‘honeymoon period’ off the back of secured clients through the Enterprise Development System, they found themselves learning a valuable lesson: business does not come easy. At the beginning of SummerTime’s fifth year, the team joined the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, where strategy, planning and goal setting were competencies on which both of these entrepreneurs needed to build. “With the knowledge we have gained at the centre and the networks that it has exposed us to, we have been able to lift our business out of a reactive mode and into a proactive mode with purpose”, explain the co-owners. The training has proved invaluable to this creative duo, who last year moved SummerTime into its own office space and recruited two new staff members. This year, they plan on employing another fulltime employee due to the sustained growth of the business.
Today, SummerTime is a multi-disciplinary creative studio offering a range of services including development of brand identities, creative graphic design services, marketing support services, employer branding campaigns, engaging team and client events, branding workshops, supply of promotional material and photography services. And they are not done yet. The forthcoming phase of their business strategy will include the divisionalisation of their service offering. Three divisions polarising the business channels will be established, namely SummerTime Create, focusing on design and brand development, SummerTime Splash, incorporating team and client events, and SummerTime Spark supporting small businesses in South Africa through corporate gifting.
Today’s frugal economic climate has seen the team at SummerTime innovate ways to remain current and relevant, including various networking systems with other stakeholders in the industry. Employing several freelance contributors and collaborating with other businesses on larger projects has kept monthly overheads manageable, and the team has opened their doors to two students learning the ways of the creative industry, thus incorporating training as a philanthropic offering to their community. Moreover, the business is actively involved in projects that support orphaned children in Gauteng, South Africa.
With goals of building SummerTime into a self-sustaining business employing up to nine creative individuals, Sandhya and Raksha have set their ambitions on additional business ventures, furthering their scope within the creative and marketing industries. “We want to contribute to creating a better country for our children to grow up in; a country with less poverty, less crime, more job opportunities and a stable economy,” they explain.
Inspired by their parents and grandparents, all of whom were successful business owners, Sandhya and Raksha are both well on their way to achieving their own entrepreneurial success. “Challenges and change are constant in business”, they explain. “But they are opportunities for growth, and as a business owner, you must just keep swimming!”