From her pioneering work as an influencer to motherhood and the love shared with her husband, we delve into Tshepi Vundla’s life behind the glossy images

Mother, wife, digital entrepreneur – if you asked Tshepi Vundla to describe herself, these are the first words that come to mind. She lives her life in service of these roles, but it’s all about finding the right work/life balance – and she does it perfectly. In her own words: “I am a 33-year-old mother of two beautiful children, married to a musical genius. I am fun, bubbly, outgoing... I love being out and about with my loved ones. I love fashion, music and good food.” 

In a nutshell, that is Tshepi. Delve a bit deeper and you’ll find that her roots run deep in a family that believes strongly in unity. Born in Johannesburg and raised in a large family, the ethos of togetherness was instilled in her from an early age. As she nostalgically says, “I love fashion and hosting my loved ones in my home, just like my amazing parents did.” She has referred to them taking great pride in their sense of style, and having a huge walk-in closet filled with amazing clothing.

Her education in good, strict schools, guided by her father’s emphasis on education, moulded her into the woman she is today. She did have a streak of youthful rebellion, which initially led her down a path of independence. But life had other plans, gently nudging her to follow in her parents’ stylish footsteps. The bond with her younger sister, Mawe, enforced by safety concerns during their upbringing, evolved into an unbreakable friendship. As she matured and established her own family, the wisdom of her parents’ teachings became crystal clear and gratitude for their influence abounded.

It was in 2009 when Tshepi first ventured into the then-new world of Instagram, when the concept of being an ‘influencer’ was yet to take off. “I’d post my OOTD, make-up looks, where I was partying, the food I was eating, and brands noticed how my followers loved my content,” she recalls. The turning point came in 2014 with the ‘StyleBySA’ campaign, marking the start of a six-year journey that provided financial stability and elevated her profile in the industry. Winning a competition that whisked her away to New York was evidence of her growing influence. Thirteen years later, her journey continues, marked by collaborations with an array of local and international brands.

Today, however, the most colourful parts of Tshepi’s life are painted by the joys of motherhood. “Nothing beats the genuine love I receive from my babies daily. The hugs, the kisses and random ‘I love you’ make every day special,” she says. It’s not without its challenges, of course. Adjusting to her new role as a mother necessitated a significant shift in her brand and work, a formidable task she tackled with fortitude. The ordinary trials of a sick child or the inevitable falls taught her the invaluable art of seeking help when needed. Her tribe – comprising her husband, mother, sister and nanny – proved to be pillars of strength and support. A grateful Tshepi acknowledges the role they play in smoothing her path.

Balancing a thriving career with being a hands-on mother of two necessitates a strategic approach. She says that mornings are dedicated to work, a disciplined focus to ensure tasks are accomplished while the children are at school. In the afternoon, her attention pivots entirely to her kids – fetching them from school, taking them to after-school activities or on outings, and whipping up dinner before bedtime.

Once they are peacefully asleep, the nocturnal hours witness a transition back into work mode. She does make time for herself, “so I can recharge and feel ‘normal’, allowing me to be the best for my family”. Winding down with friends, going to gym and solo retail therapy are her rejuvenating rituals. Navigating work/life balance and the often-turbulent waters of stress is an art Tshepi seems to have mastered. “A hobby here and there and social activities” provide the balance and peace she needs, along with a group of friends and fellow moms who understand the unique challenges she faces. In their shared experiences, she finds a wellspring of understanding and advice.

Tshepi is married to musician and entrepreneur JR – real name, Thabo Bogopa Junior. The couple tied the knot in 2023. Their bond is fortified by “regrouping sessions”, where they share and advise on each other’s goals. The notion of each being their partner’s cheerleader emerges as a cornerstone of the relationship. 

“We try our best to make time for each other outside of work and family. Honesty and openness make our lives so much easier,” Tshepi says.

The couple’s commitment to maintaining privacy, especially as they are both in the public eye, reveals a strategic understanding of what to share online and what to cherish privately. “He is way more private than I am,” Tshepi laughs, “but we’ve figured out what’s worth sharing and what isn’t. We love having moments we keep to ourselves. We’ve even figured out times to visit places and which places to visit if we are not keen on being interrupted.”

The legacy Tshepi aspires to leave for her children is a window into her own aspirations. “I genuinely want my children to build their own thing, regardless of what it is. But I would want them to know they can honestly achieve anything they want; that hard work pays off. If they follow in my footsteps, they should know how to stand up for themselves and never forget their worth.” This vision is mirrored in the key lessons she imparts on building a personal brand: believe in yourself, align with other brands that resonate with your personal values, be aware of your worth, and be committed to authenticity.


What do you know for sure?
Life is short; make the most of it

Two fashion items you can’t live without?
Sunglasses and a good pair of jeans

A quote that resonates with you?
“Humble enough to know I can be replaced. Wise enough to know that there is nobody else like me.”

Your favourite family holiday destinations?
Seychelles and Zimbali

Favourite activity to unwind together?
A good old braai, listening to music at home, and playing games.

Your parenting style in one word?

Your personality in one word?

Your secret weapon for staying organised?
Write everything down and ask for help when you need it

The theme song to your life?
‘Rise’ by Samantha James

Words by: Koketso Mashika
Photography: Zhann Solomons
Stylist: Mia-Tess Smith

TSHEPI VUNDLA BEYOND THE ‘GRAM TSHEPI VUNDLA BEYOND THE ‘GRAM Reviewed by Amaarah on April 09, 2024 Rating: 5
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