Kirsty Fonzari - Hold your head up high, and just go with it

Kirsty Fonzari - Hold your head up high, and just go with it
Kirsty Fonzari - Heads of Marketing, for Expand a Sign International and Uzwelo Bags as well as ExpandaBrand USA

KIRSTY FONZARI heads the marketing team for Expand a Sign International and Uzwelo Bags as well as ExpandaBrand USA and supports several Expand a Sign agencies globally in marketing. Kirsty's energy is never ending, and she will be opening a 360 turnkey agency called The Buro next year. There was a gap in the market to help Expand a Sign customers with various marketing disciplines.

Kirsty has founded a networking group called brand Cult that has been successfully running for three years. "I think one of the biggest gifts in business is being able to share knowledge and encourage collaborative partnerships," she said.

She also has a passion for coaching young women in business. "I want to share what I've achieved with others and to remind women that business models are changing. They need to be open minded and explore all avenues of creativity to follow their dreams and to continue to challenge the norm." Kirsty is all about understanding customers and their needs and believes if you focus on your intention and you are specific with your communication amazing things happen.

She admits to climbing the corporate ladder quickly, working her way up from operations manager of various restaurant management groups to director of operations for a group of healthy restaurant's in the United Kingdom (UK). Kirsty has successfully opened over 40 bars and restaurants in the UK and won the London "Time Out Bar of the Year", as well as Best Concept and Best Design, before returning to South Africa.

Learning from mistakes

She attributes her success to two things: making mistakes - "You can only progress by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes," she laughs; and her work ethic. "I'm not afraid to work hard with my team, communicate the vision clearly and get stuck in and get my hands dirty - that's a big part of the reason I am where I am today."

Kirsty's inspiration has been Anna Wintour, chief editor of Vogue in the US. "What I really love about her is that she says: Don't be apologetic about decisions that you make. Make your decisions and know they're the right decisions. Hold your head up high, and just go with it."

That resonates with Kirsty who describes herself as a risktaker. "Rules are meant to be broken", she jokes, and then more seriously, "I'd rather be a leader, than someone who follows", something she believes is evident in her marketing plan for Expand a Sign.

Kirsty is confident that women have a different approach than men do in achieving success in business. "Women are edgy and risk takers who know how to get a lot of things done in one go." Kirsty is driven to giving women wings.

Owning her achievements, Kirsty is happy with what she's accomplished in business. "My whole life has been around business...I'm into achieving things, I'm really pleased with where I am today, but I'd be a fool to think I'm just going to stop here; there's so much more I want to achieve."

Kirsty's insights into achieving a work-life balance are that there can be costs too, attached to success. "For me, it's one of the most difficult things to achieve - if it's about a project, everything about that project will consume me, and I learned a really difficult lesson where I had to slow down a bit... it's something I have to continuously work on, something I have to remind myself of. I also know from experience that when you're exhausted, you're no good to anybody, so it's important to have those times when you can just sit back and relax and take in the view."

Kirsty's advice to her younger self, knowing that women put themselves under pressure to be perfect because of our inherently critical society, is: "Don't take other people's opinions on board...it's okay to make mistakes and don't sweat the small stuff. Just enjoy life, because tomorrow's going to be another day."

An Incredible Journey

Talking about her background, Kirsty admits that where she is today comes with a story around her use and abuse of alcohol and drugs while designing bars and restaurants in London. She talks of juggling two balls, 'the addict alcoholic' and 'the work person', until it all came crashing down around her. "My addiction could potentially have crippled me...there were a few occasions when I could have been dead today."

"And so," she concludes, "my journey has been that I want to start adding value. I've been clean and sober for quite a few years now... I have the freedom to be myself; to carry a message of hope, courage and strength; to not be ashamed of who I am as a woman today. I have the freedom to talk to people openly about it...It's been an incredible journey and so, in order to be completely authentic, I need to be able to share my story, and so that's kind of where I am today."

http://www.kzntopbusiness.co.za/site/kzn-top-business-woman/Kirsty-Fonzari/page/10245

Kirsty Fonzari

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