German born Christina Holt is the Founder and Director of Wedding Concepts, responsible for creating some of the largest and most high profile African nuptials & exclusive events for a discerning international clientele. Respected as an industry innovator with a keen eye for International trends Christina intuitively understands and values different cultures and is hugely passionate about promoting true five-star service excellence and uniquely tailored, stylish celebrations with a strong focus on each individual client and an eagle eye for detail. We got in touch with her regarding the obstacles she has faced in the last six months and learnt about how she has powered through this course of her life.
Photograph Courtesy: Jules Morgan
What was your initial reaction when you were diagnosed with the illness?
My diagnosis came out of the blue after a routine check-up and it was a complete shock at first. Cancer! It’s a scary thought when you don’t know what it actually means, what path awaits and what treatments you will have to undergo. But interestingly, I immediately thought it must be there for a deeper reason, to teach me a different approach to life and I had a deep knowing that I would be able to handle it. My practical persona also helped a lot as I went straight into ‘solution finding mode’, which kept me strong and focused.
Photograph Courtesy: Wesley Vorster
Did your reaction lead to a setback in your career? If yes, then how did you overcome the obstacles?
Actually life & work just carry on and I just had to plan ‘in the moment’. Priorities had to shift from one day to another and I was reminded that I had to put myself first and look after myself better. I took life gradually, changed my diet and was introspective in meditations. It was quite empowering and I knew that I’ll be able to manage, together with the support around me. During this time my amazing husband (who is also my business partner) and my team took on more of the workload. Things just had to work differently – and they did. At the same time, and in spite of undergoing chemotherapy I went to the office almost every day and stayed as involved as I could. It was a reminder that one simply finds a way of working around situations and things fall into place when they have to.
Photograph Courtesy: Tyme Photography
How did your esteemed clients and vendors support you through these trying times?
Those who knew were incredibly supportive and understanding. It was okay to take a little longer for certain things and hand over some of the project management within the team. I felt a lot of compassion and never received as many beautiful flowers in my whole life!
Photograph Courtesy: Tyme Photography
How do you manage to stay positive despite the harsh realities of life?
I am a genuinely positive person and am able to see the good things and gifts within the challenges that life throws my way. There are always positives, I felt reminded of my immense inner strength over the last couple of months and that sudden change even in an initially scary disguise, is just part of life! Love and friendships too play a big role in being able to share how you truly feel. Initially the one thing I felt the worst about was the prospect of losing my hair, that was not easy at all. Subsequently, I decided to celebrate the end of my chemotherapy and the ‘new me’ with a photoshoot. Now I really look at myself proudly as a woman who is strong, beautiful and ready to embrace the next challenge whatever it may be.
Photograph Courtesy: Dearheart
What has kept you motivated to continue you career as an incredibly celebrated wedding planner, especially since the work load being so stressful and hectic?
Oh there is so much! First and foremost I don’t see it as a career, it’s much more than that to me. It’s an incredibly personal journey. I am really proud of my business and what we’ve achieved and enjoy what it rewards me with including the travels, fascinating people encounters, cultural stimulus, creative inspiration, projects coming to life, strategic & financial awareness and living in the beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa. All of these opportunities are incredibly motivational. Sharing our business learnings as a speaker as well as meeting and networking with planners from around the world brings me great joy and is always inspiring. I also enjoy some time off work to keep myself motivated. My batteries recharge at home, with my two dogs, cooking healthy food and traveling to new places with my husband.
Photograph Courtesy: Ed Peers
What sort of management skills would you like to advice to all the aspirational working women out there?
I find that being a ‘people person’ often wins hands-down, above every skill you can acquire. To me being a good, empathic and authentic communicator is the number one attribute in our service industry. I believe that it goes a long way with clients, industry partners and our own team.
Photograph Courtesy: Zarazoo
What would you like to say to women who are battling from various illnesses and continue to break barriers every day?
I like to think of us as courageous warriors and adventurers! Let’s keep enjoying the journey, celebrating life and not taking work and ourselves all too seriously.
Photograph Courtesy: Tasha Seccombe
Feature Image Credit: Tyme Photography