Edna Noel – Hobo Collection

Meet Edna Noel, the proud owner of Hobo Collection, our exciting new addition at Morningside.

Edna has been a driving force since the establishment’s inception in 1995. Her enduring commitment to women’s empowerment through fashion has been a hallmark of her journey. Over the years, Edna’s dedication has seen her transform a modest 25-square-meter space into an expansive 200-square-meter boutique, including the Parkhurst and Morning side branches. 

Edna’s distinctive fashion sensibility, personalised client service, and expert fabric coordination have been instrumental in the boutique’s remarkable growth. Her discerning eye enables her to curate the finest selections from international brands’ summer and winter collections hailing from fashion capitals like Italy, France, and Spain. She remains perpetually attuned to the latest fashion trends and ensures that Hobo Collection reflects the fashion districts’ subtle evolutions. 

Hobo Collection has firmly established itself as a beacon within South Africa’s fashion landscape for three decades. Garnering recognition in prominent fashion hubs such as Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town, it has earned a distinguished reputation as one of Gauteng’s best-kept secrets. The allure of the Melville and Parkhurst boutiques has even drawn comparisons to the vibrant atmospheres of Soho in New York and Camden in London, thanks to their hip village-like ambience. 

As a testament to Edna’s unwavering dedication, Hobo Collection has become a sought-after destination for the discerning clientele of Melville and Parkhurst. Her remarkable journey is a testament to her commitment to empowering women through fashion, with each boutique representing her enduring passion and entrepreneurial spirit.

We posed some questions to this inspiring woman. Here’s what she had to share:

  1. What inspired you to pursue your career, and how have your experiences as a woman shaped your professional career? 

    Inspiration, in general, is difficult to find especially coming from a community and background where the norm is to follow a career in business, finance, or medicine. I believe inspiration is something that blossoms inside an individual, and I broke barriers and societal norms by following my true calling, which was my passion for fashion, channeling my creative side while nurturing my business intellect. I believe my inspiration came from natural talent and recognising my ability to channel it. My first experience as a woman is to be a natural-born provider. This has added to a strong sense of independence, achievement and a reasonable level of financial stability while also enjoying my work. These characteristics have played a significant role in my professional career as it is what fuels my drive on a day-to-day basis.
  1. Throughout your career, what are some of the most significant challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them? 

    One of the most significant challenges I have faced and continue to face is being the sole breadwinner of my family, trying to balance a home life and a work life and giving more than 100% to my children. Financial pressures and volatile periods can also be seen as a challenge that tends to fluctuate; however, I always try to stay prepared and above my game, ensuring I am fully ahead of economic challenges. I can confirm that one can never be prepared for what our economy can throw our way. Having to be the sole financial support for my own business also comes with its challenges which require me to work extra hard at my career and adjust to the competition surrounding me. Retail is not a career for the faint-hearted and requires your undivided attention.
  1. In a world where gender equality is still a work in progress, how do you advocate for equal opportunities and representation for women in your workplace?

    I think, as a woman, it is important first to acknowledge that there is a problem. In my workplace, I communicate with all my female employees analysing the challenges they face, whether at work or on a personal level. I always stress the importance of women being able to stand on their own two feet and provide incentives in the workplace so they know how to reach their full potential knowing they are capable. I also push for change by working with charities that protect women who do not have a voice and bringing my own female employees with me to advocate and represent women in their way. One of my major interests is also hosting charity events which aim to provide help to abused women and children through women supporting women and creating awareness on a social level of the problems that women face, which are not often addressed. 
  1. What strategies do you employ to maintain a healthy work-life balance and take care of your well-being amidst professional demands?

    A professional career can take a toll on you; however, it is important to know who you are as a woman, your values, and what’s important to you in life; I believe that’s the base for balance. I am a fond believer in to-do lists, and I find myself doing that at 4 am to get an early and productive start on the day. I cannot go a day without exercise, and it helps manage my stress levels and create a positive mental state for my business and my children. Blocking out distractions and placing personal dilemmas on hold helps my business thrive as I believe there is a time and place for everything last but not least, I believe in nurturing relationships and having downtime for yourself; I always believe In surrounding yourself with people that bring out the best In you and taking time to relax and hit the pause button on life even if it is for a short while. 
  1. Mentorship plays a vital role in career growth. Have you had a mentor who influenced your journey, and how has their guidance impacted your professional development? 

    I had a wonderful mentor who affected my journey and allowed my creativity to reach its full potential. I developed my work ethic, my determination, and my ability to always overcome challenges no matter what they were. She exposed me to the top international brands at an early age, and I was put into a situation where I had to choose from the best fabrics and designs and make them my own. Being young and new to the industry and game, you never know if you are sinking or swimming until the final product is released, and due to that, I can now adapt to changing fashion trends. I was blessed and thankful to be introduced to Jill Sander, Yamato, and Norma Kamali. It is safe to say that I was exposed to fashion when it was still clean, nurturing and aesthetically pleasing. 
  1. Women have often been underrepresented in leadership positions. How do you navigate the path to leadership and inspire other women to do the same?

    Navigating the path to leadership is understanding that there is always room for development and growth. I continuously invest in learning and self-improvement, which includes my communication, decision-making skills and emotional intelligence. I tend to look for opportunities to enhance my knowledge base through conferences, workshops, and simply reading and constantly educating myself. I always encourage my ladies in the workplace to develop their leadership skills; this would require asking them how they would respond to a certain situation or style of a client. What fashion preferences do they have over mine? And I find myself learning and embracing change every day. 
  1. Workplaces are evolving, diversity and inclusion are gaining importance. How do you contribute to creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment?

    Our clothing boutique aims to cater to women of all classes and creeds. We try to offer a variety of modern yet classic and elegant looks for women of all shapes and sizes. We believe your beauty lies in your actions and is not solely based on looks. I aim to provide my clients with a one-on-one styling experience and try to bring out the confidence that they exude and often tend to hide. 
  1. Upskilling and continuous learning are essential in a dynamic job market. What steps do you take to stay relevant and enhance your skills in your field? 

    Relevance and enhancing my skills in my field of work is to simply “Keep at it” This includes engaging with my clients on a personal level and social media, updating my followers as well as myself on the latest trends, which includes tapping into the latest international fashion markets and keeping up to date with fashion weeks and focusing on how I can tweak my sense of style to add a bit of understated flair. Fashion changes constantly; style is what we already possess. 
  1. As we celebrate Women’s Month, what advice would you give young women starting their careers or aspiring to make a difference in their respective fields?

    First, I want to tell young women that failure is not an option. Our young women are rushing to tick the boxes of marriage and motherhood before taking the time to find out who they are and what they want out of life, and they are surprised when repercussions come with those choices. I want my young and driven career women to realise that they can be happy if they focus on their careers first and put time and effort into their fields of work. Work hard now and reap the benefits later. Realise that there’s always room for growth. Stand your ground and have a voice no matter what challenges you face, and always find an alternative way to manage trials and tribulations in the workplace. Stay true to yourself, and never let what somebody else says distract you from your dreams and goals. Last but not least, NEVER SETTLE!

Thank you for being an essential part of  “My” Morningside Shopping Centre. Your dedication and passion inspire us every day.