THE term creative genius often gets used loosely, but in the case of Julie Coetzee nothing could be a more accurate description. Being an entrepreneur all her life Coetzee, 30, was born and grew up in Port Elizabeth.
“I grew up in Newton Park – that was where I started my first business selling silkworms, then having a newspaper route, and then later doing kids’ parties. So I have always been in business – since I was eight years old – I guess it must be in my blood,” the bubbly Coetzee says.
Starting her creative design, production, motion graphic and broadcasting company Fly Piggy Fly in 2008, it has over the past few years built up quite a reputation in terms of offering creative and quality broadcasting in the Eastern Cape.
“I started Fly Piggy Fly with a passion to be part of creating excellent media exports from PE and the greater Eastern Cape. That was the vision then and is still our vision today. I started by myself, with just a laptop and a camera and grew from there. At first I put in all my effort and then as it came, I put in all my money too,” Coetzee said.
Together with creative director Scott Kelly, in 2010 Coetzee developed and produced two seasons of a children’s TV show for SABC 3 on recycling, Garbage Gallery aimed at six- to nine-year-olds. It was the first in-studio television show to be fully produced in the Eastern Cape, Coetzee says.
Last year they branched out into film and produced an Ethiopian feature film and this year they produced a documentary, The Invisible Ones, about the life of street children in Port Elizabeth.
Coetzee, who holds a degree in journalism, media and history from Rhodes University, said one of her other favourite projects at the moment is a Canadian children’s animation that Fly Piggy Fly is working on.
Her company established a television studio, Bay Studios, which comprises studio space, lights, cameras, an infinity curve, a green-screen and a sound recording studio.
Asked if there are many advantages to living and working in PE, Coetzee says the city is her “plan A, B and C”.
“I love the city – its people and environment, and I live an entirely happy life here. We trade in a completely global market, trading through online mediums and building up our name one foreign market at a time,” Coetzee said. She is in Los Angeles at the American Film Market promoting some of Fly Piggy Fly’s production services and film locations.
The company often partners with SABC, NBC Universal, ABC News, DStv Parliamentary Channel and KYKNet (MNet) to produce Eastern Cape content for national and international television.
Describing her family as her “foundation in trying times” she said her parents are very supportive and remind her of the company’s achievements when times get tough. Coetzee is a member of the Small Enterprise Development Agency Nelson Mandela Bay ICT incubator and even though she graduated in 2010, she still attends network events to be inspired by and offer advice to other entrepreneurs.
“The incubator allows you to plug into the bigger picture … to chat to other entrepreneurs who face the same obstacles as you,” Coetzee said.