Mother-daughter bond is this businesswomen’s recipe for success


It is often said that one should not mix certain things with business, and one of them is family.

For Trudi and Rina Kasselman, owners of the beauty line Ruah, and Sanel Roux and Marna Nel-Steyn, the duo behind the flower shop Petal’je, motherhood is precisely one of the pillars of their successful businesses.

A mother-in-law like few

Ruah was started more than 12 years ago on the premises of the Bona Bona game reserve in the heart of the North-West province and, according to Trudi, it was a shared dream of her and her mother-in-law, Rina.

Trudi, who studied actuarial mathematics, and her engineer husband Danie, came to nest on this reserve at the time after working as a young couple for two years in England.

Danie also set up and ran his civil engineering firm here and Trudi joined the Bona Bona family business, started by her father, full time.

The couple is celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary this year and according to Trudi, she and “Ma Rina” had a close bond from the beginning. So much so that in 2007 Trudi and Danie set up a house next to Bona Bona for her parents-in-law after their retirement as teachers.

“I had a bigger plan, I wanted all the parents together and close to us,” jokes Trudi.

Her interest in herbs and essential oils was already piqued during her time in England and according to Trudi it didn’t take much convincing from Rina to share in her dream for a beauty line.

“She quickly embraced my dream as her own and was not yet ready to retire completely,” adds Trudi with a laugh.

The rest is history and 12 years later the Ruah brand graces creams, ointments, salt, honey, herbs and even handbags.

Ruah means “breath” and their slogan is “be cherished” – according to Rina, this mother-in-law and daughter-in-law make each other feel.

“We are different as individuals, but in our otherness we fit each other so well,” she explains.

“Trudi’s strengths lie in marketing and she will help with the assembly of the products, where I am now involved in the factory again. We talk to each other and understand each other’s views, so it is very easy for us to work together.”

Communication and mutual respect are important for both women to balance their business and personal relationships. Rina adds that mothers-in-law in particular must offer their daughters-in-law the necessary space to find their own feet within households.

Trudi says her mother-in-law’s routine, discipline and steadfastness are remarkable, while Rina admires her daughter-in-law’s softer nature, kindness and creativity.

When asked about the definition of motherhood, words such as protection, love and emotional support come to mind for both women.

“We are very blessed to have the type of relationship that can flow seamlessly between family and business. I couldn’t do this without Ma Rina.’”

Mother and daughter’s love blossoms into business

According to Sanel, an interior decorator, the seed for Petal’je was already planted in her heart years ago, but it would not have blossomed properly without the help of her mother, Marna.

An open shop at a newly remodeled shopping center in Queenswood, Pretoria, forced her in 2019 to make her flower shop dream a reality in a matter of four months.

“If you dare to do something like this you want to do it with someone you trust and on whom you can rely and for me that person is my mother. Our outlook on life and how we deal with challenges are very similar and I think that spills over into how we run the business,” explains Sanel.

Petal’je closed its shop doors during the Covid-19 pandemic and went full steam online.

Marna, a social worker and therapist at a school in Queenswood, and Sanel therefore divide their time between the flower shop and their respective professions.

Like Trudi and Rina, Sanel and Marna believe in honest, continuous communication to drive their business successfully.

“I think that if everyone’s responsibilities and duties are clearly outlined from the beginning, you eliminate a lot of ambiguities and conflict. We also believe that you shouldn’t dwell on something for weeks, but say it immediately if something bothers you.”

Sanel says she looks up to her mother’s drive. “She is a real one go-getter and doesn’t just let anything get her down. If it does, she talks about it and shakes it off.”

She and her husband, Pieter, believe that security and safety are the core building blocks of parenthood and that there are “few things that cannot be fixed with love”.

“My hope for mothers this Mother’s Day is that we will acknowledge each other as parents’ challenges. Not everyone has amazing husbands, sweet kids, or great support networks. We as mothers must also respect, build up and notice each other.”