Nicole Capper, owner of public relations and communications firm MANGO-OMC wasn’t always the successful business-owner and entrepreneur that she is now. She wasn’t even always working in communications.

“I’ve had a multi-tiered career that has encompassed travel, advertising, design, copywriting, working on farms, executive PA, secretarial work, digital publishing – you name it,” she said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have been either tenacious or stupid enough to take risks my entire life.”

Capper grew up in Johannesburg, but travelled across the continent and the world before settling in Cape Town at the age of 26.

“I was quite adventurous,” she said. “I lived in Switzerland when I was very young for a year in order to study French and learn how to speak it…I then went to the UK for another year and then popped back to South Africa. I got the travel bug again a while later and hitchhiked from Johannesburg up to Nairobi in Kenya, which was an extraordinary experience.”

She and her partner at the time were cash-strapped, and consequently had to find jobs everywhere they went. Capper did everything from dishwashing to desktop publishing to working as a chef.

From Kenya, the pair went to Israel, where they lived for a year and a half, working first on a kibbutz (a communal farm settlement), before moving to Eilat and finally working on a mushav (a type of cooperative agriculture community).

From there, Capper travelled to the Greek islands, where she and her partner worked for a season before moving to London.

“When I decided to return to South Africa, I literally collected my 1964 Beetle from my parent’s smallholding and drove straight down to Cape Town,” Capper said. “That was 20 years ago and I don’t regret it for a second.”

Why return to Africa after travelling for so long?

“Africa is my home,” Capper said. “There is an entrepreneurial mindset here that I think suits my personality, and there’s an energy and there’s opportunities here that I think we sometimes forget in the difficult times or challenging times.”

After moving to Cape Town, she worked as a brand manager in the nutraceuticals industry, working first for Formule Naturelle and then for Bio-Oil.

Bio-Oil, she said, prompted her passion for PR.

“I was working with PR firms and agencies as the brand manager and found that the part of my job that I enjoyed the most was actually dealing with the media or the media liaison side of it,” she said.

In 2004, she decided to branch out on her own, starting Nicole Capper Consulting. In 2006, she merged with another company, forming MANGO-OMC as it is today.

Capper started out doing PR work for her contacts in the nutraceuticals and natural products industries, but has branched out to take on a diverse set of clientele, including medical surgeons, Orderin, and, at one point, Red Bull.

The team works with brands to identify their needs, coming up with strategies, and implementing campaigns suited to the company.

“Public relations has changed significantly over the last few years,” she said. “I think there’s been a breakdown of silos between advertising, digital advertising, digital content, public relations, communications, you name it. Public relations, at the moment, in order to remain relevant, is very integrated.”

Capper said that she’s recently been making sure that she takes time for herself, instead of working all day, every day.

Her yoga is sacrosanct, she said. “Yoga for me is extremely important for spiritual, mental, and physical wellness.”

She loves the ocean, and in her spare time she reads, walks in nature, draws, gardens, and spends time with friends.

Taking time for herself and making sure she has a balanced life doesn’t mean she’s any less committed to her work, though.

“I think the most important think to learn about anything to do with entrepreneurship or leadership or business-owning or even mentorship is tenacity pays off,” Capper said. “And even if it looks like its incredibly dark over there and you’re not going to make it I think…it’s quite possible to surprise yourself.”

Listen to Nicole Capper’s interview below:

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