She shares the journey of her agency, which consistently punches above its weight
You were born in the UK to a Moroccan family. How did you originally find yourself in Jo’burg?
I was born two years after my parents moved to London. When I finished school, I did a law degree at Bristol University. After obtaining my LLB, I did a Legal Practice Course in order to become a solicitor, but never actually worked as a lawyer. Instead, I joined the Communications Division of a nutraceutical company in London. After a few years there, I travelled for a year in Brazil, came back and started working for an NGO in Washington DC, USA. While there, I started experimenting with film productions with my friends. We did just our own personal projects, but it led to a job offer from an American entertainment company, Bounceback Media. It was working on a South African music show called O-Accessand asked if I wanted to help produce it. I thought: “Why not?” That’s what brought me to Jo’burg. We set up a mobile office here, but we were filming all over the world for Channel O. I travelled to Japan, Australia, Los Angeles – the works. I later worked on Nonhle Goes to Hollywood and Harambe.
Where did you see yourself living?
I always aimed to live an international life, commuting between all the different continents in the world. Ultimately, though, I knew I wanted to live in Africa and I think SA was the first opportunity I got in terms of real base.
How did OnPoint begin?
Vista Kalipa and I, as well as a third partner – who’s since left the business – set up OnPoint in 2010 because we saw an interesting gap in the market for a neat little agency that did PR and communications, but also brought in the content field. Vista and I can laugh about it now, but there was a time when we had to send each other airtime! When we started the business, we had a little business plan, but no funding. We didn’t have an office either, nor an income for the first seven months. I was living off my savings and we were helping each other. We’d work on these projects and people thought we were a big, formal operation, but it was literally just the three of us. We’d hold meetings at restaurants and hotels. Today we have a staff of 12 people – with real offices!