BACKSTORY: Tinsel Gallery co-founder Geraldine Fenn
We question jeweller and co-founder of Tinsel Gallery Geraldine Fenn
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Whatever I do, do the opposite. Because my business is jewellery, which I am hopelessly sentimental about, I’m way too trigger-happy in giving discounts to customers. It has always been tricky for me to put a price on my time, creativity and expertise.
What was your first job?
When I was about 15 a school friend had an uncle who needed help sorting out his huge stamp collection. We spent two days with tweezers taking stamps from piles and arranging them in the right albums. It was weird and boring as hell. When I was an archaeology student I did some work for a professor who was excavating at the Cradle of Humankind: I was sent buckets of sediment containing ancient owl pellets, which I had to sort through to find tiny rodent bones. That was also weird, but pretty cool too.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Niceness. It’s the blandest virtue of all.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I’ve never actually been formally employed! I probably saved up my first bar-tending tips to buy Doc Martens shoes — they were black nubuck, 14 holes.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
That sometimes you just need to dive in and do it, even if you don’t have all the answers and it scares you.
How would you fix Eskom?
A Spanish Inquisition-style witch-hunt to root out the corrupt individuals? Not really, but I do think the corruption has to be dealt with firmly, and there have to be consequences for people and municipalities not paying for the services they’re receiving.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
A William Kentridge charcoal drawing, about 20 years ago.
How are you planning to live out the shutdown?
We’ve been stockpiling wine for a while now ... We have two boys, aged six and four, and a very small garden, so I’m sure it’ll be challenging. I’m planning to let them play Minecraft most of the time, to be honest.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
When I was a kid I used to do highland dancing — tartan kilts, dancing over the swords, bagpipes, the whole shebang. In retrospect I was a giant nerd.
If you were president, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
In terms of the current coronavirus crisis I think he is doing all the right things, and we’re lucky to have him as the captain of our ship. After this he needs to turn to fixing the economy: if I were him I would try my best never to let the weeds get higher than the garden (as Tom Waits sings).
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