A businesswoman with a passion to help others and someone who is fiercely protective of her family, Shereen Hunter chats about how she met the love of her life and where it has led her.
She grew up on the east side of Johannesburg in Kensington, where she lived for most of her life, just moving up and down Highland Road, until she met Lionel Hunter on May 10, 2005, and everything changed.
“Lionel was a blind date and friends set us up for dinner. I had come straight from work and had no idea I was even going on a date. I realised our mutual friends had set it up when I arrived at the well-known Vera Vita Restaurant in Joburg South, and as we arrived my
friends said they had invited someone to join us for dinner.
“I wish I had known – I looked like a total nerd in my corporate shirt and jacket…so not Lionel’s type well so I thought! Turns out that though we were total opposites, we are completely attracted.
“Two years later we tied the knot at the beautiful Thaba Eco Hotel, the most romantic Friday night winter wedding ever,” said Shereen.
“We live on five acres of peace and tranquillity in Walkerville. Lionel has pretty much lived in the same area all his life, and is well rooted.”
Shereen added, “When I met Lionel I was working within a Bidvest company, very much involved with corporate business. After we got married and we had Chelsea Grace, Lionel wanted me to slow down, travel less and spend more time at home.
“I did slow down and so left corporate, then spent four years in fulltime ministry at Christian Family Church International, and when Chelsea went to Grade 00 eight years ago, I took the final step and stopped working for someone else.
“For a year I stayed at home, and then I started helping Lionel in his business. Eventually five years ago I started the entrepreneurial journey, and started a few businesses of my own.
“Hunter Group is a business that provides PR, HR and IT support to companies who do not have these resources within, and so want to outsource them. We are a one-stop shop for business managers and leaders who need help taking their business to the next level.
“I am also a partner in Beata Promotional Printers, a printing and promotional gifts company based in Selby. Lionel and I also started a sports promotion company called Unleashed Combat Sports & Events, and I am the founding member of a non-profit company called It’s Not About Me.
“Lionel and I help each other in everything. I am very analytical and have foresight, and Lionel is very practical and has a gift that makes it possible to make very complex issues simple for me.
“The fact that we come from two opposite sides of everything has added tremendous value, and more often than not the right way forward for us is a compromise that takes both views into account. In business Lionel and I are both good at compromising – so that makes a huge difference.”
“Chelsea Grace was born in 2008. She is our love baby, prayed and planned for. She turned my world 360 degrees to the right direction. She completely destroyed every selfish late bloomer mom (had her in my 30s) bone in my body. She was born the spitting image of her father, and in so many ways is his carbon copy. To me, Chelsea Grace is an extension of her dad when I look at her, and I could not be prouder.
“One word that describes our family – blended! Besides Chelsea, I have three beautiful stepchildren, Logan, Cameron and Lacaela, our niece who has become another daughter in our home, Tamryn, a daughter and son-in-law who make my life so easy, Zane and Minnie, and two picture-perfect grandchildren, Lionel Junior and Karmenique.
“We are very close and fiercely protective of one another. I have enjoyed the privilege of having these amazing souls pass through my arms and heart.
“I’ll never boast about being a perfect family. We are the typical Joburg South neighbours, loud and full of drama at times, but I can say love lives with us, and we are on a journey together, proud of each other and proud to be Hunters!”
One of Shereen’s absolute passions is helping people at all levels. “I love helping the needy, but I am equally as passionate about helping people who seem to need no help at all but who are actually hiding the issues they have behind a mask of success.
“I think that is why I love my job at Hunter Group, especially counselling business owners who feel like everyone expects them to have all the answers – regardless of how irrational that sounds.
“I love being a sounding board, a shoulder to lean on, and the voice that reminds them that everything will be okay, and even if it’s not, it’s okay.”
Where is your focus now?
“I think the older I get the more my focus is on my relationship with Christ and being a pillar in my family. I have given the first part of my life to business and I have no regrets about that at all.
“I loved my career foundation and travelling the world and all my studies. Now in the latter part of my life I am very intentional about imparting what I know to others, balancing life with the choices I made to marry and serve in my marriage, and to be the best mom I can be to Chelsea. First place God, secondly my husband, then our children. Everything else follows.
“When I am not at work I am always at home with Lionel and the children. I love
quality time and making memories.”
“If they are all busy, which happens from time to time, I will only be found doing one other thing, reading.”
Shereen said she’s not really a hobby person, nor a collector or a creature of habit. “The only thing I love to repeatedly do is travel. That I love, love, love.
“Our favourite restaurants are the Courtyard at Vera Vita, obviously. Angelo and Kim are like family; they are, after all, responsible for creating the atmosphere for our blind date and 15-year (so far) relationship!
“Then no one makes a Rib Pizza like Gino’s, shopping is definitely Mall of the South on a weekday; I don’t like busy shops ever. Date nights are important to us and we love booking in at Thaba Eco Hotel for a dinner, spa treat and stay-over.
“And if I am alone, the Pyramid Day Spa is a good hideout for me. Oh, and I am a loyal client to JJ Cale in Mall of the South for Yankee Candles. And, you won’t beat Walkerville Meat Market, who supply the best meat quality and great service.”
As Shereen rushed off to her next appointment, the ever-calm woman she is kept it all together, “Life is a balancing act, learn to balance and you’ll never fall.”
* Text: Julie Maule. Photo: Audrey Boniwell Photography.