FEMtrepreneur: Zetske van Pletzen – Actress, Designer & Media Personality

Gracing the screen with her luminous presence and enhancing closets with her classic-chic clothing range, Zetske van Pletzen is a dynamic FEMtrepreneur, motivational speaker and actress with bales of talent. South Africans will recognise her exquisite features from local Afrikaans TV shows like Getroud met Rugby and Binnelanders (KykNET), the historical political drama Bloedbroers, and of course, everyone’s favourite soapie, 7de Laan. Zetske isn’t a stranger to the national theatre scene either, having appeared in many acclaimed musicals at the State Theatre. Her love for ‘fashion with functionality’ prompted her to start her own clothing line, Halo by Zetske, which caters to the stylish modern woman with elegant cocktail dresses, modish maternity attire and quirky printed lounge wear.

Zetske enlightens us on what it’s really like behind the scenes….and seams.

Where does your love of acting come from?

From my parents who are both actors. My brother and I basically grew up in the theatre. I also started ballet at the age of 4, so in hindsight, I’ve always been a performer.

What inspired you to start the Halo by Zetske clothing brand?

The acting industry can be very unstable and you’re not always guaranteed to have work. I wanted to do something that could keep me going in between acting projects. I’ve always had a love for fashion and starting my own line felt like the right thing to do. It turned out to be a lot harder than I anticipated. It’s a very competitive industry and I had to work hard to establish where I would fit in. I’ve never been a fan of mass-produced clothing and I like the idea of being able to offer exclusive, locally-produced items.

How would you describe your clothing brand?

I wanted to create items that are feminine, chic and sexy. I don’t necessarily follow trends, but rather stick to things that are classic and that you’d still love to wear a few years down the road. The brand showcases versatile items for day and night, as well as maternity wear and a range of quirky slogan tees.

What makes Halo by Zetske unique?

I only produce a limited number of each garment, so you are sure to purchase something that is exclusive and of a very high quality. Most of the items are custom-made and tailored to fit the client’s measurements, but we also offer some ready-to-wear items. Everything is made in South Africa. Instead of bringing out entire collections twice a year, I launch a few new items every month. So there’s always something new on the website.

Did you study in the field of your profession?

No, I did not study fashion at all. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are experts in their field and learned as much as I can from them. I have a team of qualified pattern-makers and seamstresses, and we work closely together. I did, however, study Psychology and French through UNISA and graduated in 2016.

How involved are you in the design/manufacturing process?

I design all the items myself, but I don’t manufacture them.

The process goes as follows:

  • I draw a sketch of what I’d like, then look for the perfect fabric.
  • I take the sketch and fabric to a pattern-maker.
  • Then it goes to my seamstress. She makes a sample.
  • Usually there are many alterations that need to be made. We make the necessary changes on the pattern and the sample.
  • Once finalised, I take photos of the new item and upload it onto the website.

Where do you find design inspiration?

Everywhere! Often, I just walk around in the fabric store until a certain fabric speaks to me. Sometimes I don’t know immediately what to do with it, but I buy it anyway and usually I wake up the next day with an idea. Other times, I’m inspired by what I see people wear on the streets or on social media, and I think of how I could make that different or unique. When I’m looking for a specific item in a store and I can’t find it anywhere, I will make it.

 

Since you wear many different business hats, how do you balance it all?

It’s a difficult task to balance it all. I have often reached burn-out, but I’ve stopped being so hard on myself and trying to do everything perfectly. I try to prioritise and do the most important things first.

What has been the most effective way of marketing your business?

I haven’t done much marketing outside of social media. I’ve recently started working with influencers and have found it to be quite effective. The key is just to find someone who represents your target market.

What is the most courageous thing you’ve done as a FEMtrepreneur?

Building any business from the ground up is a courageous thing to do for anyone. It takes a lot of dedication, sacrifices and perseverance. And just to keep going after failures and disappointments, that takes a lot of courage.

Describe yourself in three words:

Determined. Loyal. Genuine.

What do you love most about your acting career?

That I get to climb into other people’s minds and feel what they feel. And every day is different.

Is there anything you dislike about your profession?

The long hours and there’s lots of waiting involved. Hurry up and wait.

 

Which acting role has been your favourite thus far and why?

There have been a few, but the one that stood out the most was the period drama series Bloedbroers, which was set between 1914 and 1948.

Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you would still love to achieve?

To play the lead in a film. And my heart is yearning for the stage. I haven’t done a theatre show in a few years, and I miss it a lot.

What advice would you give to other young female entrepreneurs/actresses?

Just start! Where you are, with what you have, just take that first step.

Fun facts about Zetske

Favourite business tool: Instagram 😉
My personal style is… Practical and relaxed. Guided by my mood.
Heels or flats? Flats
Three things I always carry in my bag: Lip balm, tissues and water.
Tea or coffee? Coffee
I handle stress by: Making lists and tackling one thing at a time. And wine 😉
Favourite shade of lipstick: Rosebud
Book recommendation: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
An acting role I’d love to play:

(national or international)

Portraying a real person in history.
My favourite Halo piece is: The infinity jumpsuit
A coffee haunt or restaurant I love to frequent: Bambanani in Melville, because they have a great play area for kids.
Dream destination: Europe
The one thing required for success is… Perseverance

This multi-talented mum-of-one is an inspiration for all young budding actresses, as she effortlessly confirms that with the right attitude and determination, you can string it all together; a profession driven by passion, a wholesome family life and a sustainable business. We’ll be closely following (and fangirl-ing over) Zetske’s career, confident that she will achieve any goal she sets her mind to, be it a local or Hollywood blockbuster, or a runway show at SA Fashion Week.

Shop the Halo by Zetske collection on Zetske’s website and follow her exciting acting career via Instagram

*All the T-shirts and dresses worn in these photos are available from Halo

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