Looking back to your early years, is this the life you envisaged for yourself?
Ellinah: Absolutely! I have always loved the entertainment space and it’s all I ever wanted to do.
Chiedza: I wanted to be an actress, remember, so I thought I’d be acting on a stage somewhere. But I wouldn’t trade the life I have for anything. I love living in Zimbabwe, in spite of the occasional difficulties, my heart feels at home here and this is where I found love. I enjoy my work and I’m blessed to have wonderful family and friends. Happiness and peace of mind mean much more to me now than when I was younger.
What have some of the biggest highlights and achievements been?
Ellinah: Building a brand with national recognition and growing it in ways we could never imagine! It’s given us both such confidence and I’ll forever be proud of this.
Chiedza: I’d definitely agree with Ellinah that the success of Unplugged is a point of particular pride for me as well. Specifically knowing that we have had over 200 different artists on our stage, that we’ve brought in some of the hottest African acts too. When we first came out of the red and went into a profitable position, it felt amazing because it confirmed we had built a viable business.
And what have some of your biggest lessons or AHA moments been?
Ellinah: One of the biggest lessons was that you can never please everyone. Everybody will have an opinion on what you should be doing, what you should not being doing, they’ll even tell you your business idea itself doesn’t make sense. Self-reliance then becomes crucial. You dig deep to find inspiration and resolve. All you can do is put your head down, focus and build the best way you know how.
Chiedza: People and respect are vital in business. I enjoy working with people that buy into the vision, because they bring their best to the job. If you don’t get what we’re doing here, I’d really rather not work with you at all. Respect as a business value is crucial, I refuse to work with people who are rude, insolent, pushy, work on their own time or entitled, and worst of all, I refuse to work with any bigoted individuals! I’ve also learnt that you can be compassionate in business, but there is no room for people pleasing and the most powerful thing you can say is NO.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received and why did it resonate with you?
Ellinah: Never give up on your dreams…however hard it might be. This advice motivated me and kept me going because in this industry and probably in any business, there are times you just want to give up. I think you also develop a natural commitment to your business when you’ve truly built it from the ground up. You know all its nooks and crannies and you develop a real intimacy with it – you don’t give up on it.
Chiedza: The two best pieces of advice I’ve received are to be reflexive and to trust my intuition. Reflexivity requires you to look at yourself objectively and ask tough questions of yourself and answer them as honestly as possible. I find this has made me more open to others and less afraid of changing my mind on issues when a better idea or suggestion comes along. I was also told that I need to trust my intuition. My business nous and ability to think strategically are assets, and rather that pander for an ‘everybody happy’ outcome all the time, I should rely on these instincts to guide me.
If you were to pick one defining moment on your journey to now, what would it be?
Ellinah: When twice we had international acts cancel on us a day before the show and we had to get other international acts within 24 hours to not disappoint the audience. That’s when I realized I can actually work well under pressure and act fast.
Chiedza: The two moments Ellinah refers to really sent us through the ringer. But it also really showed us how much we care about delivering, and how capable we are of doing so against massive odds.
What are the things that matter most to you?
Ellinah: Definitely my family and friends.
Chiedza: My relationships with my higher power, myself, my family and my friends. I also really value my own peace of mind and self-actualization.
Oprah suggests everyone’s biggest pursuit in life should be to find what their purpose is and then to spend every waking moment making sure they live to fulfil it. What is your purpose? Have you figured it out yet?
Ellinah: Not yet hey…still trying to figure it out.
Chiedza: I’ve dedicated 2020 to this task. I’ve always wanted to live more purposefully and I’m now dedicating the time to understand what that looks like. Ask me again this time next year.
What do you love most about the woman you have become?
Ellinah: The strength I did not know I had.
Chiedza: I love that despite hardships, betrayals, deep pain and grief, I am able to come back to compassion and kindness.
And what do you know for sure?
Ellinah: I know for sure that my life is going to be full of fun and adventure….and of course hopefully make lots of money.
Chiedza: My life has meaning, and I have everything I need for this journey. I am worthy of love and I give love easily and abundantly. This I know for sure.
What does the future look like? What do you still want to get done?
Ellinah: Gosh…I have not even started with what I want to do in life (Laughs). So many things in the works. Focusing in the entertainment, hospitality and tourism space.
Chiedza: The best is yet to come for sure. With each day, I achieve more self-acceptance and I prioritize the people and things that actually matter. With respect to work, I’m really curious about manufacturing, and of course growing my communications work.
If you were to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?
Ellinah: I don’t think so. I think I am happy with everything I have done so far. It’s built me to be the person I am today. No regrets.
Chiedza: I’d have been easier on myself, more forgiving and more patient for sure. Outside of that, I’ve had a blessed and love-filled life so far.
How would you like to be remembered when all is said and done? What story do you want to be told about you?
Ellinah: I want to be remembered as someone who was caring and kind. Someone who loved and cared for her family and friends. Someone who was very hard working and ambitious. Someone who was fiercely loyal.
Chiedza: I want my life to be one of purpose and service. I want to be known as someone who led with love and compassion.