Life by Design: insights from Bilala Mabuza on embracing happiness while consciously navigating the journey of life.

At the recent Vastly Sage Uplifting Brunch, the Founder & Creative Director of Cocoon Lifestyle and Co-Founder of the Signature Hospitality Group shared her perspective on designing the life you want, being comfortable with change, walking one’s own truth and the significance of relationships.

By YourLuxury Africa


Bilala Mabuza is the embodiment of quiet power with a deep understanding of change and choice.  She navigated changing career direction, changing work and living space with ease and a positive attitude. However, she does not take change lightly and advises conscious planning and understanding your “why” in the change journey to achieve one’s desired goals.

Bilala was a distinguished speaker at this year’s profoundly enlightening Vastly Sage Uplifting Brunch with Amanda Dambuza and is a longtime friend of the host. During her talk, she shared her professional journey with guests; departing from the corporate world, venturing into business consulting and embarking on entrepreneurial ventures in both the design and hospitality realms. Her journey was marked by challenges yet she consistently found clarity in her path, revealing the significance of each progressive step.

“For me, it’s always been about consciously living, changing and being in direct fulfilment of what set my soul on fire at the time; I adored the world of design and understood hospitality, my next move had to allow for maximum flexibility to pursue my version of happiness” she said.

Bilala added that she had a good sense of what her personal journey would look like and that the process of moving from the corporate world to business consulting and that of an entrepreneur did not happen overnight. “You first have to cultivate the audacity to ask for what you want and need to progress in your career ,” she advised. “Register for additional courses, read, research, stay informed and never stop learning. Build up your own suitcase of skills and experiences that will serve you well in future.”

She also reminded the audience to make the most of access to resources one has in the corporate world before leaping into the entrepreneurial space. Also, never forget that relationships matter: “It is amazing how many people you will meet again on the other side.”

Bilala is also a firm believer in paying it forward, saying not all her entrepreneurial ventures are commercially driven. At the Vastly Sage Uplifting Brunch, she offered to advise three lucky guests on making the transition from corporate careers to entrepreneurship as part of the ongoing consulting and coaching service she provides. Nothing you learn is ever lost. 

She shared encouraging words, highlighting that each person must walk his or her own truth. “Figure out who you are, what works for you and what your version of happiness looks like; then walk your path meticulously.”

For Bilala, family has always been front and centre in her life and decision-making. “I’ve watched my family effortlessly toggle between the professional, entrepreneurial and community building worlds while enjoying many family traditions built over time to fully immerse ourselves in life and never miss a moment to celebrate each other”. My grandmother’s favourite tradition of “checking in” a New Year phone call every year at midnight with the whole family to ensure we all cross over safely and in prayer still means so much to me. It doesn’t matter how many things may be going wrong with our country on a cloudy day, there is no place like home.”

In building the Signature Group of restaurants brand with her husband Desmond Mabuza, the duo intended to create a “home” for themselves,  the people they knew and loved  and those who would come to experience the brand in future. “Our dream was to create a place like the old Cheers bar where everybody knows your name but with distinct excellence and consistency as the threads that bind all the touch points”. “We are grateful for the support over the years and we all need to encourage each other to set up enterprises that we can be proud of.”

Not one step of her personal journey has been accidental. As Bilala teased in her talk: “When someone asks me at a dinner party, what I do for a living, my usual response is: How much time do you have?”

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