Dr Gugulethu Gule, known as Gugu, graduated from the University of Botswana and Swaziland (now University of Swaziland) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree majoring in statistics and mathematics. In 1982. she was accepted to continue her studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA graduating with a Masters of Arts (MA) in Demography in 1984 and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Demography in 1990. Gugu returned to teach at the University of Swaziland and was a tenured lecturer in statistics and demography lecturer for 15 years.
In 1997 she relocated with her family to South Africa where she had secured a job as Research Director at the National Population Unit in the then Department of Welfare. However, in 1999 Gugu was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and founded Research Dynamics South Africa (RDSA), a company in which held the position of Executive Director and Lead Researcher. RDSA carried out a number of research projects in the public sector and for international NGOs and multilateral organizations.
As a high profile professional, Gugu was always fashion-conscious, and always paid particular attention to her looks and wear. As a professional and senior government official, she desired to project an appropriate image at all times. She was frustrated by not always and easily finding stylish and elegant clothing to flatter and accentuate her fuller-figure and body shape. Alternatives available in the marketplace where largely not stylish or suited for women wanting to look and feel their best. So while on business travel Dr Gule always kept an eye for the best clothes for the fuller-figure women.
It was no coincidence then that while on a trip to New York City she came across a clothing retailer that offered the most exquisite clothes suitable for her body size and shape. She was inspired to bring this type of retail experience to South Africa to cater for the discerning fuller-figure South African women. The result was the opening of an exclusive boutique for fuller-figured women – GG Boutique in 2005. Prior to launching GG, Dr Gule utilized her research expertise to conduct market research to determine whether or not the opening of GG Boutique would be sustainable and that its product offering would have traction. The research findings were soundly positive showing that South African fuller-figure women were more than ready for the GG’s product offering.
So when GG’s doors were first opened in Pretoria it was the fulfilment of Dr Gule’s long held dream to empower fuller-figured women by creating an exclusive and intimate shopping space in which they not only feel welcome but also know that their core needs and wishes are fully understood – where they are treated professionally and with the utmost customer care and service. GG welcomes and allows fuller-figure women to look and feel great.
Dr Gule has had a long standing passion for fashion. Even in the early days as a lecturer, motivated by the scarcity and lack of access to elegant and stylish clothing suitable for her fuller-figure body, size and shape, she studied fashion design and pattern making part-time. This started a journey where she was able to conceptualize and execute or make her designs for own use. Having started GG, Dr Gule is now able to utilize her fashion design knowledge in enhancing the production of the in-house GG range.
Dr Gule has no regrets for deciding to leave her significant position at Stats SA and launch into the uncharted waters of being a fashion entrepreneur. Having managed and run the business for over a decade Gugu knows that this is where she needs to be. She cherishes the support of her family which has come in handy.
She remarks: “Being an entrepreneur is not easy, especially when for long periods you cannot pay yourself but you have to pay your staff. However, when you see the difference you make in your clients’ lives, every minute spent in the business is worth it. In the end it’s not about the money, it is about the service and need you are fulfilling in other people’s lives. This makes it worth every sweat you may shed. I would not trade this for any other thing”.
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