Brutal Fruit presents Success Tastes Better Shared
Words by Naledi Sibisi
Catapulting her career through a public relations internship at a communications agency, PR Professional and Brand Management Specialist, Zoe Msutwana has always paraded a strong passion for entertainment and pop culture. She has since taken multiple career strides from being promoted to a PR Assistant and Account Manager to overseeing PR/Reputation Management and Strategy Development for brands such as Brutal Fruit, a telecommunications organisation and well-know celebrities and global brands.
Today, Zoe is heralded as one of the leading voices in celebrity brand collaborations and campaigns through her platform Guide To Celebrity (GTC). “2018 had so many highlights for me”, she recalls. “I think just having my audience understand what GTC is, as well as what the content stands for was one of my bigger highlights. The platform’s way of reporting and telling brand stories is very intentional (as niche of a market it may be). That has been my mandate since day one; to have our readers and brands respond well to that type of content. Because it is very new to the South African market, it is something we do not take for granted. GUIDE, our digi-mag supplement has been positioned as a visual runway for brands. It is a dream come true”.
Reflecting on where she started, as well as the different experiences and titles she held before pursuing her own business, Zoe cites “comfort” as a defining moment or factor for her. She mentions that her definition of comfort did not sit well with her. “I’ve always been a dreamer, since childhood, so I yearned to go after my dreams and this desire became a lot more intense with time. It was in that moment that I knew I owed it to myself to chase these dreams”.
We plunge into a conversation about personal success. Zoe expresses that she used to associate hard work to success, however, with age, she is learning that the path to success will not necessarily favour those who work hard. “What has helped me over the years is my ability to not give up when I face challenges along the way. I definitely think I would have given up on trying to become something in life a long time ago had I not believed that ultimately things will work out for the greater good. Hard work, consistency and most importantly my faith have been the key contributors to my success”.
When it comes to who inspires her and who she looks to for motivation, she references the women who are close to her. “I am so blessed to have so many inspirational and supportive women around me. At the present moment, I’m embracing newness and new energy. Anything revolving around new beginnings, the idea of change and new life is what is currently driving me. I wake up filled with so much joy and happiness knowing and living the new beginnings some of the women close to me are experiencing and the ones that I know await theirs. My mother recently started a new job, occupying her dream role ahead of her retirement in a couple of years. My sister is gearing up for a life-changing move as a graduate, and my best friend is starting a new chapter in her life. At the same time, my precious cousin is finally pursuing her lifelong dream of starting a luxe clothing label. It is really motivating to exist around such energy”. She likens this part of her life to the recent Brutal Fruit Campaign, #SuccessTastesBetterShared where women are builders, cheerleaders and each others’ soundboards.
One of the fundamental aspects for longevity, particularly in this industry would be collaboration and shared growth or success. Zoe tells me that she would love to work with Lawrence Manyapelo of Previdar Magazine in the near future. “I have always thought that he is one of the greatest creative minds we have in South Africa and I hope we get to create magic soon as I take our magazine property, GUIDE to newer heights this year”. She adds that Khanyi Dhlomo was a huge influence on her ambitions in the media industry. “I’ve always dreamt of working with her. Taking in everything that has been happening at Ndalo Media has not been easy to process and I don’t think it has sunk in yet. There’s a lot to take in and a lot to learn and I still hope that one day, I will get to work with her”.
While she looks to others for inspiration as well as lessons, there are some lessons and pieces of advice that Zoe is sure to keep in mind as she continues to grow in this space. “Not every critic is hater”, she declares. “Be prepared to receive criticism and build from it, success doesn’t come easy that is why it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people who will be your inspiration and also draw inspiration from you.” Acknowledging that it took her a long time to appreciate this aspect, she maintains that true wisdom is being able to dissect feedback without it being a reflection of who you are. “If I was to advise anyone hoping to make their mark in a similar field, I would say work hard on honing your skill. When you know your story and you are excellent at what you do, no systems can keep you away from getting a seat at a table”.