Gaye Corbett and Lisa Goosen are the mother-and-daughter team behind luxury accommodation group Tintswalo Lodges – and a huge part of the business’ success.
The journey started 15 years ago… “We had a shopping centre development in the Bushbuckridge area, and we also had a large-scale community development program, which saw me visiting the local schools and delivering effective learning courses,” explains Lisa. “Due to the amazing reputation we had as a family, we were asked to tender on the Manyeleti Reserve development plan, and we won the tender. This is where it all began.” From a successful tender that saw the development of Tintswalo Safari Lodge and Manor House, to two more extremely fruitful endeavours, resulting in Tintswalo Lodges at Waterfall in Gauteng and the incomparable Tintswalo Atlantic, at the base of Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town.
Gaye runs Tintswalo Safari Lodge personally; she loves the bush and has personal vested interest in its success. Meanwhile, Lisa runs Tintswalo at Waterfall, as she is based close by and loves the bustle of city life. Tintswalo Atlantic is a shared labour of love. “Neither of us is willing to let it go so it is a team effort, for sure. Other than both heading up lodge operations together, I handle PR and social media, while Gaye focuses on marketing, sales and finance,” says Lisa.
Lisa and Gaye are definitely a team to be reckoned with! When asked what the pros and cons of working together are, Lisa comments, “We both think we are the boss – both strong personalities! We love being in charge but somehow we never cross each other and the business relationship seems to run like a well-oiled machine. When you work closely with someone, especially your mom, you start thinking like them, and so our decisions are predominantly the same in every case. The downside is our poor husbands have to deal with two matriarchs!”
Ernest Corbett, Gaye’s husband and Lisa’s father, and Warwick Goosen, Lisa’s husband, are also inextricably involved in the business, but mom and daughter take the reins, meaning there are many dynamics at play – family and spousal – which can make things tricky… “Oh definitely!” agrees Lisa, “But we all know that behind every successful man is a wife who knows what is going on! We are indeed a powerhouse team and because we all have our responsibilities defined, working together is much easier. I would never want to work without my husband – what on earth would we talk about? We have an incredible marriage and having parents like mine sets an example to strive for.”
“The secret to successfully running a family business is to always know what your responsibilities are and to never stop giving each other the benefit of the doubt,” says Gaye. “The hospitality industry can be fickle, but I think that all of our products are located in amazing settings and we have outstanding staff at each property, which sets us apart. Our reputation has taken years to build but it stands us in good stead now.”
The best advice for fellow entrepreneurs? “Have a good plan in place and know what you would like to achieve, then getting there is easier,” says Lisa. “Also, never ignore the achievements along the way. The trait of a perfectionist is to always be unhappy with your results, but you should never ignore achievement. If you have taken a step and achieved something – you’re on the right path. The development of Tintswalo Atlantic was an incredible achievement for us. Better still was the incredible feat of having to rebuild it after the fire, and bringing back not only its original splendour, but surpassing our greatest expectations. This is my mother’s achievement and we have all hung on the coat tails and enjoyed every minute of it.”
“And never overlook your people! We put a lot of attention into our staff,” adds Gaye. “We always recruit only the best in the industry and we care about them, their families and their wellbeing. It makes a huge difference.”
Besides being pioneers for women in business, Gaye and Lisa are both dedicated mothers and wives, which takes a lot to attempt to balance. “If you think we are a power team now, wait until my daughter joins the business,” laughs Lisa. “Honestly, having a family is never something that should be a balancing act. Family is your balance and sometimes mothers with careers lose sight of that. Family is what creates the stability you require to be the entrepreneur you need to be and we should never take them for granted.” Extremely wise words.
“My advice to women in business is: never agree with the pre-conceived idea that women cannot do what men can, but never let that define you. Success should come from the desire to succeed and not the desire to prove the other wrong.” Lisa concludes. With an attitude like that and sass to boot, it’s easy to see why this mother-and-daughter team continues to take the business from strength-to-strength.
Tintswalo Lodges celebrated women in business at a networking dinner at Tintswalo at Waterfall on 1 June. Thanks to all in attendance and to Uber for sponsoring transport for all the lovely women to and from the event.
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Tintswalo at Waterfall is a boutique luxury hotel and venue, a renowned country retreat and meeting establishment settled in the heart of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.