Artist manager and PR guru Afari believes in building sustainable brands, rather than flash-in-the-pan sensations. And, with over 10 years’ experience in the entertainment industry her passion for creating brands with longevity has seen her partner with some of the most celebrated names in South African showbiz.
“My introduction to this industry was in varsity, when some of my friends, who were musicians and DJs, asked me to manage them. At the time, I didn’t think much of it and went into it blindly.” Yet even in those days, as an inexperienced artist manager, professionalism and artists’ interests always came first for Afari, who ensured that they were well taken care of and paid for performances, even if the events weren’t successful.
“As a budding manager who found herself in this industry by default, I also managed to secure a weekly residency job for two of my DJs – bagging them a guaranteed remuneration which, back then, was highly impressive for students.”
Today, Afari’s portfolio of long-term PR clients includes the like of internationally recognised actress Terry Pheto, industry triple threat Relebogile Mabotja and creative marketing agency Vth Season.
A psychology graduate who originally aspired to work in the healthcare sector, Afari had to be both improvisational and bold. “I had to learn with no reference, and that’s what made me successful. Starting out in the PR field meant applying my mind and working from a blank page, as I had no industry contacts to fall on or leverage from. Because I had no benchmark against which to measure myself, I ended up setting my own standards – for which I’m very grateful today.”
READ MORE: Meet creative all-rounder Sibu Mabena
Afari adds that the Sheila Afari Group’s success has been her greatest source of pride. “It’s also extremely humbling to have retained some of my clients for almost six years.” What drives her, she says, is her belief that in the end, she’ll always win. “Failure may come along the way, but I genuinely believe that my future ultimately contains only success. Life is like a pack of cards – there are a guaranteed four aces in it. Some people give up before finding them, but they’re still there, waiting for whoever persists.”
She believes that entrepreneurship chose her, rather than the other way around. “For that reason, I think I’ve fulfilled my destiny. I fell into this career and I’ve managed to spot opportunities that gave birth to new businesses in ways most people wouldn’t have noticed.”
She advises those keen to enter this sector not to underestimate their inner power. “If this is a career path that interests you, be sure not to get caught up in the so-called ‘limelight’ of the industry. Stay true to who you are and put in the work, because there are no short cuts.”