Roné Verster, 33-year-old businesswoman from Bloemfontein, is strikingly beautiful. She is the Free State’s only finalist in the 2016 Mrs. South Africa competition, but Bizwoman also found that she is much, much moreish.
Roné Verster was born in George in the Western Cape and being the daughter of a politician she got used to moving around often as a child. Eventually they settled in Cape Town where she matriculated at DF Malan High School and started her studies in fashion design at the Cape Technicon. “For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed about being this fantastic, famous, fabulous fashion designer,” she laughs. The studies went really well and she even walked away with a few awards for commercial design. “I like designer wearable fashion, something that any woman can wear and feel great in.”
Following her studies, her first real job was as a buyer for Foschini. “It was a wonderful experience, the whole corporate world, and learning about the business side of things,” says Roné who also enjoyed travelling around the world and to be the first to know what’s happening in the fashion industry. “It was a really great company to work for and I worked really hard to reach those heights I was dreaming of.” Being focused on work at this stage of her life, Roné didn’t really have much of a social life. This is why she first shunned her husband, Harold Verster, who caught her eye when he walked in at a work function. “But I quickly regretted my decision, asked him if we can do a retry and shortly afterwards we were married.”
The big move
Change is always hard, but Roné really dreaded moving to Bloemfontein with Harold. “Nobody moves to Bloemfontein from Cape Town, it’s always the other way around,” she explains. With so many dreams for her future, and having worked so hard to get where she was, the future looked pretty dire.
But Roné quickly decided to make the move worth it and immediately started her own business when they arrived in Bloem. “I was taking a big risk, but I had some business experience.” Through five years’ hard work and much grace she has steadily grown Olive Guest House to one of the best known guesthouses in Bloemfontein. “I have many responsibilities, but I also have my own free time, and that is what I love about business,” she adds. The industry also taught her to get along with people of all cultures and backgrounds. “After five tough years I am at a place where I know what the next month will look like, and that is great.”
Another big challenge
Although Roné is exceptionally beautiful, she has never been introduced into the world of pageants, until she made the sober decision to take part in the Mrs South Africa Competition at the age of 33. “It was a very big decision since I had no background and knew nothing about the industry,” says Roné who discovered that it was also a hard core business. “All I saw and from what I knew, was that this was a fantastic platform to launch your future life from, and to make a difference where you wanted to.”
She reiterates that it has been an amazing journey and she is thankful to be part of the process. “I would never have done this if I had still been working in Cape Town and I’m thankful for Bloemfontein for giving me the courage.” Roné has met so many incredible women on this journey who have been a true inspiration in so many regards.
“Mostly they are businesswomen who see opportunities everywhere and they do not waste any time in pursuing it!” It’s not that they are not scared, but it’s about having the guts to be scared and to go ahead anyway.
There are 25 ladies in the finals and the process is very intense. The greatest challenge sofar for Roné has been to organise a proper charity event (which was a highlight on the Bloem calender with many A-list attendees the likes of Tatum Keshwar). “I had a great team who really helped to put together an amazing event and I was allowed to be creative and do things my own way,” she says.
“What I like about the competition is that they are not looking to replace last year’s winner with the same type of look or person, but every year they look for someone fresh who brings new ideas to the table to further grow the brand,” says Roné.
If she could choose an industry favourite or idol, she would choose Rolene Strauss. “I have often thought I should learn to be more flamboyant or such [she is a silent observer and many people confuse it with her being introverted], but every time you see Rolene, you see the real deal and she also makes a huge impact in a very demure way.”
One of the biggest lessons Roné has learned sofar has been about herself, and her ability to do even more than she ever thought possible. “You really become stronger the older you get.”
Preparations for the pageant have been tough, for you have to play the ‘role’ of finalist all the time. “You are constantly under scrutiny, in every aspect of your body, personality or life.” Roné has even enrolled for public speaking lessons. “You will always be stronger in some areas than others, and you have to be OK with working on those things that need attention.”
To make a difference
Roné is very specific when it comes to what she will do, if she is lucky enough to earn a win. “I have a passion for women, but not only that, I would like to help women rediscover their calling.” She explains that many people lose their passion along the way, or they decide that they will just let life roll by. “I have been there. But every person has a specific destiny to fulfill and I would love to redirect women to find their passion for this specific calling.”
Back to basics
Looking great every day must be hard work? “It is! And everything shows in your skin and your hair. To look great you have to eat well, drink enough water and live a balanced life,” she says. Although Roné doesn’t follow a specific diet, she knows that if she doesn’t pay attention to her daily diet, it can quickly go south. “You cannot get away with a sandwich if you exercise hard. It has a direct impact on the results.”
One of her personal hacks is to get up as early as possible to fit in her daily gym or jog routine. “I love exercising, but I’m not an early bird and it is tough to get up early,” Roné confesses. But she does feel great after a good workout and that makes it all worthwhile.
To relax, Roné takes to her bed with a cup of coffee and a good, motivational book for some me-time. [Her latest read was AHA by Kyle Idleman]
Her husband is very supportive and often helps out with her two daughters, aged three and four. “He takes them to school in the mornings while I get ahead with the day’s work and in the afternoons I try to be at home with them, although I’m doing admin and other duties.”
Roné is obviously not done yet, and her biggest dream come true would be to develop or launch a great product (“or fashion line”) for women. “I still have no idea what it will be, but I know that it is somewhere in my future. The guesthouse is my first love, but I would love to take something to a national level.”
Our bet is that this is not the last time we will hear from this beautiful all-rounder. Ed.