The entrepreneurial spirit
After almost two decades of practising law, and gaining a reputation for one of the best lawyers in town, Peet’s law career hit a rough patch, culminating in his leaving the legal profession. “I learned a lot from that time in my life,” he says. “I thought I was resilient before – I learned to be tougher. I thought I was resourceful before – I learned to maximise the skills at my disposal. I took the challenge I was faced with to heart, and decided to reawaken my entrepreneurial spirit and become a businessman. I knew it was up to me to make the most of a tough situation – no one else was going to do it for me.”
Peet saw an opportunity in the beauty industry, spotting a gap in the market for high-end luxury products that was not being serviced in South Africa. “I have always had a love for the finer things in life – I appreciate quality and the skill required to make quality products,” he says. “I brought that love of quality into the beauty industry, and I’m proud to say that it has been a success. This has been my focus for almost a decade now, and aside from being able to carry through lessons learned during my career as a lawyer, I’ve also learned some new lessons along the way.”
Peet says that one of the most important lessons he has learned from being an entrepreneur that one should be firm in one’s business values, but flexible in executing strategies for achieving success. “If your values are strong and unwavering, you can be flexible in accommodating the normal ebbs and flows of being an entrepreneur,” he says. “If you do not learn to be flexible, you will not be able to move quickly when opportunities present themselves. You will also struggle to solve unique challenges if you are not prepared to think outside of the box.”
Another important lesson Peet has learned is to surround yourself with good people who are experts in their field. “As a lawyer, I was used to being the one with the skill – people came to me for help, not the other way around,” he says. “I’ve learned that in business, you have to rely on experts in their field to perform their given skills, while using your skill as a businessperson to co-ordinate everything and ensure success. You cannot delegate accountability, but you should delegate responsibility, and people thrive when you allow them to perform at their best. I have an excellent team of people that have helped my business grow to where it is now, and I take pride in their work as if it were my own.”
Giving back is another lesson that Peet has learned throughout his varied career journey. “I come to understand that if you have the opportunity to give back to others, you should take it,” he notes. “There are many less fortunate people who would be able to shine if they just received some assistance; a helping hand. I firmly believe that even if you have worked hard for your money, like I have, you still have the responsibility to help others – none of us can say we achieved our success in isolation.”
With this in mind, Peet has a number of causes that are close to his heart. “I believe firmly in the empowerment of women,” he says. “The beauty industry is a wonderful place to encourage women entrepreneurs, business owners and service providers, and I am currently mentoring a female high school student who shows a passion for the industry. Coaching and mentoring are critical to the success of others, and I participate in this as often as I can, both formally and informally.”
Another passion of Peet’s is wildlife and animals. “I enjoy spending time in the bush, and I have a love of nature and escaping city life to enjoy it,” he says. “I support a number of wildlife and animal charities in their operations, including the SPCA. I believe we have to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and preserving our natural heritage for generations to come is an important part of that.”
Lastly, Peet recently generously donated over 1 000 fabric masks and hand sanitizers to those working in essential services during the national lockdown due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Understanding that many on the frontlines of the essential service industry, such as fuel service station workers and retail employees, do not have the means to procure masks or sanitizer of their own, and therefore could risk increased exposure, Peet commissioned the manufacture of reusable, washable, triple-layer hygiene masks made of durable fabric, as well as 70% alcohol hand sanitizer, and distributed over 1 000 of these to essential service employees.
Peet says that he understands many employers might not have access to protective equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer, due to a countrywide shortage, and set about doing something to correct the problem. “If I couldn’t buy masks to help out, I was going to make them,” he says.
His words: “There is always a way to be found, a plan to be made”, embody his attitude to his career and life in general – pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get busy making a success of your life.