Brand Ambassador | Entrepreneur | Luxury Event Stationery Designer | Accountant My name is Nelly Paulser, Co-Founder of Graphic House Zim. I am a wife to an amazing Graphic Designer (Ray) and a mother-to three beautiful children (Keisha, Tyler and Ricardo) but my journey didn’t begin there. My journey has not been a rosy journey. At the age of 18years when starting my first year at university my father passed away. This led me to my first entrepreneurial step of selling cooking oil during a season where cooking oil was in short supply in Zimbabwe. Having to figure out the ropes in business in a hyper inflationary economy grooms you to be versatile. At the age of 23years I got married and unfortunately the marriage didn’t last. At 26years I made a tough decision to get divorced. At the age of 30years I was retrenched from a job I loved and had to find my feet at a time when my mother had reached retirement age and at the time, I had my daughter. I tried several businesses and they failed because of various reasons one of them I believe was not having a Business Mentor at the time. I hit rock bottom at the time and had started getting into depression, I just wanted to give up! After taking time for self-introspection and having a chat with myself I picked myself up and decided to keep pushing. I am a Christian and that was all I could hold onto – faith that tomorrow will be a better day. It was never easy; some days were better than others, but I continued to push. I continued to seek mentorship and I continued to build networks to help grow my business.
At the age of 32years I remarried and was blessed with two handsome boys. At that point everything had changed but I hadn’t yet noticed because when one moves from a space of “bad experiences” to a space of “good experiences” but with a negative mentality one never does appreciate the small steps of progress.Only when my mindset changed did I begin to see the progressI was making. Fast forward to today; here we are with Graphic House Zim – a Zimbabwean registered business that has built a brand name for offering QUALITY graphic design, printing and branding services and we come highly recommended! What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them? One of the biggest initial hurdles was getting support from friends and family when I decided to get into business with my husband. Everyone felt I needed to play it safe and work an eight-to-five job and be guaranteed of a salary every month. They were not worried that I was never happy in a normal eight-to-five job. The last one I had, though I appreciate all I learnt there, I just wasn’t happy, and this was visible as I had lost a lot of weight and I was always in tears. At that pointI had to be selfish and decide not based on who has my back, but I decided since everyone has an opinion but at the end of the day, I am accountable for my own life. I told myself win or lose I was willing to live with the consequences of my decisions. My family also felt the marriage would collapse with us both working in the business, but we learnt our own way of running a business and segregation of duties. We learnt how to separate home and work and to never sleep without talking things through. We also learnt that the business was bigger than just us. There are the children, the clients and people looking up to us as individuals.
The other hurdle was operating a business without any form of funding. Businesses built in Zimbabwe, due to the economic environment that we operate in, are businesses that find ways to raise their own initial capital. When operating in the service industries- you need to get the initial machinery to start offering the service and grow from there. Graphic House Zim started with one small inkjet printer and until today we keep and treasure that small printer.
What books are you currently reading? I am currently reading How to Build a Multi-Billion Dollars Business: BreakingThrough: Africa Challenging Economies by Dr. Strive Masiyiwa. It’s a good read!
What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally? Never give up. Don’t undermine your dreams - they are never unrealistic and never too big. Give them all a chance. Always challenge yourself to be better. Not better than others but better than who you were yesterday. Do not fear failure! It’s only part of the process. Lastly, as a woman in Tech, take advantage of social media. I assure you; your business can grow because of social media!