Spirit of adventure

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Local businesswoman, adventurer and go-getter Karla Taljaard always thought she’d be a big-city girl living a big-city life, but boy, was she in for a surprise.

After getting her BSc in consumer science and business management, Karla started working for Imperium Negotiations and Linda Paige, both family-owned companies, which enabled her to travel.

“We went to the UK, Israel and the States, where we visited Texas, Florida, California, and even Vegas, baby!” the bubbly blonde laughs. “It was great; I loved every minute of it. We travelled for nine months living out of just a 20kg suitcase and a carry-on! Texas is my favourite place; everything there really is bigger and better.”

Working for Linda Paige was a game changer for Karla, who grew up a quiet and self-aware little girl. “Our role was to empower and equip women to step up and be confident. This inspired me, helping me on my own journey of overcoming fear and stepping into confidence. Believing that I have the spirit of beauty inside me, just like everyone else, enables me to say with confidence that I no longer have that fear, because I chose to work on myself and break through those barriers.”

This is partly why people who have strong opinions and values inspire her, as do people who believe in themselves. “I am motivated by humility,” she smiles, “and by people who walk with confidence; people who invest in themselves. People that get out of their comfort zone, which is also their dead zone.”

In keeping with this spirit, Karla stepped out of her own comfort zone and left Linda Paige, starting work in an entirely new industry. “I believe in taking action and adapting if you want to make your dreams come true. That’s one of the reasons why I made the choice to move to Mbombela in April 2022.”

Karla immediately started working for Volvo Nelspruit as a finance and insurance assistant. “Seven months later, I was asked if I wanted to step into another challenge by managing the new car sales department, and now I’m the acting new sales manager. I love it; I learn something new every day.”

This wasn’t always on the cards for the chocolate-, bubbly-, surprises-, shopping- and family-loving Karla, who always saw herself as the CEO in the most important positions of all – housewife and mum. “I have always thought those are often overlooked and don’t get enough praise. I still do, but have also since discovered that I’m someone who loves taking action and who chases after challenges. I want to have a positive impact on lives everywhere I go.”

The lure of new opportunities wasn’t the only reason she found herself making the move to the Lowveld countryside, the other was perhaps the oldest motivation in the book – she moved for love. Karla initially met Thomas Hattingh when they were both students.

A mutual friend introduced them, but at the time, Karla wasn’t interested. “A few years later I was at my best friends’ wedding, and I walked into him at the bar. I said to him I knew him, and that his name is Timothy. We had a good laugh and the rest is history, and here I am in the Lowveld!”

Karla has embraced her new home with gusto, and loves being so close to nature, although she says the heat takes some getting used to and she hasn’t quite acclimatised yet. Thomas, who is an avid birding and camping enthusiast, has introduced her to these two favourite pastimes.

“Birding is something I have learnt from Thomas, although I’m not sure if it was by force or by choice,” she laughs. “In the beginning it was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I have come to enjoy it. I never thought I’d be the type to like camping! We usually go to the Kruger National Park, camp there and then go birding, or we go on trips with friends to spot new birds.”

When she’s not working (or birding), Karla says keeping fit is a priority for her. She enjoys CrossFit to make sure she remains at the top of her game, but also loves a day at the spa, spending time on herself and getting pampered. “I also love a good bottle of wine,” she adds, “which is something I’ve learnt from Thomas and his wine-loving father.”

What does the future hold for this go-getter, who always thought she’d be a city girl, but ended loving a life on the farm? Karla says she intends stepping up and out, investing in herself and becoming the person she is meant to be. “The best life lesson I ever learnt was that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself. How can you expect someone to invest in you if you don’t invest in yourself?” Well, there’s that. But we also anticipate plenty of camping and birding adventures along the way!

Make-up: Elsabé Steyn – Elsabé Steyn Styling Studio.
Photographer: Tanya Erasmus – Something Timeless Photography.
Shot on location at The Capital Hotel, Mbombela.

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