Getting to know entrepreneur and PR queen, Marina Nestel




I took time out recently to chat with powerhouse, Marina Nestel, founder, owner, and director of Cape Town based PR and Events company, “The Little Black Book”.  This boutique agency is notably one of the city’s most recognized of its kind; having hosted events attended by the likes of Richard Branson, Mick Jagger and Kevin Spacey, to name but a few of that ilk.


After asking Marina about the driving force behind her success and the challenges she has overcome as a female entrepreneur, juggling motherhood and work, I felt inspired to share her story with you:


Tell us about the early days


When I first founded The Little Black Book in 2007, I had no idea how much work it would be to run my own business and to turn it into the success that it is today.  I remember once only having a thousand Rand in my bank account and a friend saying to me, “Just let it go, Marina.  It was a great idea, but maybe it’s time to throw in the towel”. 


But that’s not in my nature.  Resilience and fortitude are; so I stepped right back into the ring, working day and night, against overwhelming odds at times, to keep my business solvent, whilst trying to acquire new clients and build a reputation at the same time.


What would you say is the driving force behind your success?


I love people and I thrive on bringing joy to others through what I do.  My team and I often work through the night to meet tight deadlines, but the reward of seeing the expression on our clients’ faces after we’ve pulled off a truly memorable event far outweighs the exhaustion of a few sleepless nights!  


I revel in the creative aspect of realizing my clients’ dreams in exactly the way they had envisaged them, particularly when it comes to seeing a happy, relaxed bride who has just experienced the wedding of her dreams, thanks to all our hard work and planning beforehand.


What have been your greatest challenges?


Juggling a demanding work schedule with trying to be the best mother I can to my beloved son, Luc.


The current recession has also impacted our industry significantly because, as it’s widely known, the marketing budget is the first to be cut when tightening the belt in the corporate world. So, it’s been very challenging at times working within extremely tight budgets in an already highly competitive industry.


And how have you managed them?


We had to rethink our strategy and shifted our focus to weddings and social media accounts; also offering PR services at reduced rates in order to retain and satisfy our smaller clients. 


I have also been incredibly fortunate over the years to have secured the most reliable and loyal suppliers, such as Cruz Vodka and Mumm Champagne, who often save the day with generous donations of stock in exchange for publicity, allowing me to use my budget to source the most renowned caterers as my clients are saving on their alcohol expenditure, which is often one of the worst budget breakers!


What was your goal for 2016?


Our main focus for this year was to secure a large international account, which I’m thrilled to say, we were successful in doing when we were recently awarded the Events Management aspect of the Global H & M Account.  We are beyond thrilled and honored to have been recognized with this award and are taking no time in proving ourselves worthy members of the team responsible for this prestigious initiative.


What is your Motto?


“Never give up and never stop believing in yourself”.  I am solutions driven and naturally resourceful, no matter what the scope of the project. 


My job is often to make a shoestring budget look like a million bucks!  And that takes skill!


What else is close to your heart?


I adore children so feel naturally compelled to draw attention to and raise funds for the underprivileged, abused and abandoned children of this country, whose circumstances just break my heart.


Last year, I was responsible for raising over R1 million for The Peace Table event on Table Mountain (  700 people attended the event and the proceeds were donated to local charities focused on the needs of South Africa’s abused, vulnerable and orphaned children.


I also channel a lot of my time and energy into raising funds for Atlantic Hope (, a Sea Point based  NGO that provides shelter and safety for abandoned babies.


Another cause I support is The Sunflower Fund, ( which aims to give all South Africans diagnosed with leukemia, and other life threatening blood disorders, a better chance at finding bone marrow stem cell donors so that they can be treated and, hopefully, cured of this disease.


What are your future objectives?


My objectives for the future are to grow my events and wedding planning business as I find these the most rewarding offerings in my service portfolio.  I’m also a huge foodie so my recent trip to Jo’burg to meet with suppliers and enjoy a host of food tastings to find the perfect caterers for H & M was indeed a thoroughly enjoyable “perk” of my involvement with this account!  I love the energy and vibe of Jo’burg so am thrilled to be going there on a monthly basis for H & M. 


On the PR side, I’d like to focus on brands I personally support and believe in, such as luxury product and beauty portfolio providers, high end restaurants and hotels and a number of international fashion brands. 


It’s only natural that my passion for a particular brand has a knock on effect when attempting to secure the right audience for an event that showcases a brand that I believe in and use personally.


What are the dynamics of your team?


I’m a great believer in the saying that “dynamite comes in small packages” so enjoy working within a small team that shares my passion, enthusiasm and energy.  In recognition of their commitment, I make it my business to ensure that they are rewarded for their efforts, both in terms of remuneration, as well as other forms of recognition, such as holidays in lieu of overtime, spa treatments, all-expense paid week-ends away, etc.


What advice would you give aspiring South African female entrepreneurs?


Understand yourself first and foremost.  Be aware of your own personal strengths and weaknesses and then decide on what direction will suit you best.


The most valuable advice I’ve ever received was from a very special mentor of mine, who said “you can be and do whatever you want, just so long as you never stop believing that you can”.  



That’s why I keep my five year old son’s birthday gift on my desk as a constant reminder.  It’s a tiny notebook, with the words “Believe – Anything is Possible”, engraved on the cover … and it is.  So long as you believe it is.

Author: PR Officer

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