Inge Pieters, 30, left retail fashion to become a yoga instructor. She lives in Sea Point with her two housemates, Bridget and Inge. I grew up in the small town of Margate, surfing the waves of the KZN South Coast, but I knew I’d eventually trade in my small-town roots for life in a big city. I’ve always loved fashion and used to dream about running a clothing empire from a skyscraper. So, when I left school, I studied fashion design before landing a job in retail in London.
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I worked my way up to becoming a fashion buyer for major clothing brands but, even though I loved what I was doing, the overtime, tough office environment, and long commute was taking its toll. During those five years in London, I felt really strung out by the demands of my job. In 2013, I was head-hunted and was offered a job for a major retail fashion company in Cape Town. I was tempted to keep moving up the retail fashion ladder, but the prospect of being closer to my family was much more appealing. I also thought that living in a city like Cape Town meant I could enjoy a slower lifestyle that included visiting the beach and surfing on weekends, while still being able to work in the industry I loved. Still feeling totally exhausted and stressed – even after settling into my new life in Cape Town – I took a friend’s advice and tried a yoga class.
I instantly fell in love with the practice and looked forward to my classes more and more. After each lesson, I found my mind quietened and I felt a lot more balanced. At the same time, I had a severe case of wanderlust, and I was looking into backpacking across Central and North America. I came across a yoga training retreat in Nicaragua and started seriously toying with the idea of becoming a yoga instructor. It was an intense 28-day teacher training programme – and the incredible beaches for surfing helped seal the deal. In July 2014, I resigned and set off on my adventure. What was meant to be a month of yoga study, followed by three months of travel, stretched into two years of backpacking across the Americas. Once I qualified as an instructor, I paid my way by hosting yoga classes, taking guided surfing trips, and working on yachts.
I was the happiest that I had been in a very long time. In May this year, I returned to Cape Town. While teaching yoga in exotic locations was life-changing, I’d had enough of being a nomad. With no intention of returning to my old job, I gave my former colleagues yoga lessons – I knew the stress they were under and felt I could help. Today, I teach private classes and do studio work at the Equilibrium Retreat in Hout Bay, and I also organise yearly yoga retreats. I’ve seen how my career change has had a positive impact on my well-being – it’s even brought out my inner entrepreneur. During my travels I came across a toasted coconut creation that tasted just like bacon, and, being a vegetarian, I know it’s the one thing a lot of us miss the most. Knowing there was nothing like it in SA, I jumped at the opportunity to start the FakenBacon (fakenbacon.co.za) brand. This vegan-friendly bacon substitute has proven to be quite popular and I now sell it in stores in Cape Town, Durban and Joburg, and through Faithful to Nature – it’s now overtaken yoga as my main source of income. It wasn’t easy for me to walk away from my dream job, but I’ve gained so much more since making the decision, and I’m never turning back.