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Q: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

A: Gina@work offers a complete uniform solution from design development, to manufacture and distribution. We pride ourselves on our superior service and quality. Gina@work has a national network, with head office being located in Johannesburg and regional offices in Cape Town and Durban.

Q: Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

A: Colin Joiner, CA by professional, I found the allure of running a fashion company to tempting to resist. Over 30 years ago, I bought Gina@work, which at the time was a manufacturing facility selling tailored skirts to hawkers. My wife, Jenny Joiner, and I have successfully run the business since then.

Q: What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

A: Our business model has evolved significantly over time, since we identified a gap in the corporate uniform market. We expanded to cater for our first big contract which was Life Healthcare, and have since grown the business to target a greater diversity of segments from healthcare, to banking, to the travel industry and many more. With increasing pressure on companies to present their customers with a professional brand image, the need for uniforms has increased significantly.

Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

A: Always do what you you say you are going to do
You don’t have to have a unique product or idea, you just need to be better and more innovative than your competitors
Cash-flow management is critical in small business management

Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

A: Financial expertise
Courage of your convictions

Q: How many hours do you work a day on average?
A: We have 9 hour days. We work typical factory hours and open early at 7:00am

Q: To what do you most attribute your success?
A: Ability to evolve with a changing market and identify new needs

Q: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

A: Given the niche target market we have, the majority of our marketing involves below the line, direct marketing tools. Relationship management is a critical part of our business and one of our most important marketing objectives. Our catalogue has historically been the pinnacle of our marketing campaign, however as the world evolves to a more digital platform, we have evolved into this arena more recently, launching our website and entering many social media platforms.

Q: Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

A: Gina@work is a family owned operation and has been self funded since inception.

Q: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

A: Maintain a balanced lifestyle
Manage cash flow
Move with the market

Q: Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

A: Given that it is a family business, my goal is to retain it as such.
We hope to continue the growth we have experienced historically, through a greater diversification of segments within the uniform market.

Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

A: Apple – they’re always ahead of the game, they are completely customer centric and user friendly, making the customer experience as seamless and enjoyable as possible

Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
A: Good employees are everything!

Q: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A: I think one of our strengths has always been to recognise when we have made a poor decision, and to never be afraid to move on.

Q: What motivates you?

A: I like to feel that I am providing a good standard of living for my employees
Brand image motivates me – it forms the crux of everything we believe in
Delighting our customers, through world class service

Q: What are your ideals?

A: We believe that there is a slice of pie for everybody and we pride ourselves in our good relationship with our competitors.

Q: How do you generate new ideas?
A: Through creative brainstorming with our management team
Through constantly analysing customer insights, and ensuring our offerings meet their needs

Q: How do you define success?

A: Happy staff, delighted customers, money in the bank
Money to invest in growth and new assets

Q: How do you build a successful customer base?

A: Strong relationship management
Loyalty driven business model

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

A: Every day is different
Freedom to make decisions as I see fit
I get to be involved in many diverse functions

Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A: Renewing contracts with happy customers is very satisfying

Q: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A: The freedom to make decisions quickly

Q: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

A: We care! And we deliver! We do what we say we are going to do and we deliver on our promises. I instituted this culture, because I think this is critical in differentiating yourself in a competitive world

Q: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

A: Dynamic, but not without its scary moments.

Q: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

A: Nothing, I love being my own boss.

Q: How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
A: Positively. I have a great work life balance. I have the added advantage of working with my family everyday.

Q: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
A: Cashflow problems – this is an ongoing challenge with small business

Q: How did you decide on the location for your business?
A: Central, quick highway access for employees. Suited to a manufacturing environment.

Q: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

A: Complete conviction and dedication to the project on hand.
Continuous innovation and ability to read the market.

Q: If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
A: Steve Jobs – he’s one of the worlds greatest innovators

Q: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
A: My wife

Q: What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
A: I love any books on trend forecasting e.g. Dion Chang

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A: I like to think we have grown from our mistakes, and we make many, as everyone else does.

Q: How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
A: You cant – you can just learn form them and move frowardtakes

Q: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
A: Golf, wine and spending time with my grandchildren

Q: What makes you happy?
A: My family
My dogs
A good bottle of wine is key!

Q: What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
A: Financial sacrifices

About Gina@work: Gina@work is one of the leading uniform suppliers within South Africa. We offer a complete solution to your uniform requirements from design development, through to manufacturing and distribution.

Company Name: Gina of Charles Street (Pty) Ltd

JOHANNESBURG HEAD OFFICE:  44 Richard Street, Selby, Johannesburg, P.O. Box 39338, Booysens, 2016, Tel: 011 493 3338, Fax: 011 493 3355
CAPE TOWN OFFICE: Unit 6B, M5 Office Park, Cnr Berkley & Upper, Camps Road, Maitland, Tel: 021 511 9930, Fax: 021 511 2422
DURBAN OFFICE: 1st Floor, Pharos House, 70 Buckingham, Terrace, Westville, 3630, Tel: 031 266 0488, Fax: 031 266 0494