Pioneer, entrepreneur and design consultant

Seventeen years ago, then interior designer, art agent and single mother Nicola
Hadfield took the South African design world by storm when she launched Decorex SA, the first ever interior design exhibition on the African continent.
Decorex  SA was launched in 1994, as Nelson Mandela was poised to become the first president of a democratic South Africa. It was a time of hope and opportunity, but also one of sceptism and uncertainty about the country's future. However, these somewhat unstable conditions, a lack of capital, threats from overseas design exhibition competitors, and competitive local exhibition organisors did nothing to deter Nicola who managed to persuade design companies to accept her idea and buy into her dream. With very little money but a whole lot of passion and confidence, she successfully presented the most stylish and comprehensive design exhibition South Africa had ever seen, while also giving the international design exhibition world a new benchmark.  

The result of Nicola's persistence and business acumen was a record number 27 000 international and local visitors to her first exhibition. After Decorex's debut, enquiries were received from around the world requesting space for the next year's event resulting in Nicola's decision to double the size of the space and then, three years later, trebling it. During the show's second year, the number of visitors more than doubled to  64 000.  She then decided to expand the show to Durban and Cape Town and visitors increased to 100 000 while exhibitors, most of whom saw profits soar in their first year of exposure at Decorex SA,  continued to exhibit year after year.

Determined to maintain the quality and panache the first year brought to the South African market place, Nicola maintained a vigilant eye on the growing exhibition ensuring strict standards of display and presentation.
Along with the continually expanding design show, Nicola's company, based in offices in  Hyde Park, Johannesburg, grew to one which employed 15 full -time staff and which had a multi-million rand turnover.
Nicola introduced two new shows entitled Woman Alive and Decorex DIY.  Eight years later, she sold the exhibition company to the well-known Dutch exhibition company, Rai BV Amsterdam.

For the next few years, she travelled extensively, and spent many months in her favourite country France.  She launched a signature range of jewellery, published two visually-inspiring decor books, Beautiful Homes and Beautiful Outdoors (see Author Page),  and presented her own 13-part television series called Design Inspiration.  She became a sought after décor trend commentator speaking at many influential events around the country and overseas, and consulted to blue-chip property developers and architects on design, strategic branding and marketing.  
Her business successes, entrepreneurship and pioneering spirit led her to being honoured with numerous business awards (see below), the most prestigious being in 2003, when after being nominated by Pam Golding, became one of the recipients of the US Star Groups, "Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World". She has earned a place in the USA as one of the 15 Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World (2003) along with others such as Donna Karan, The Late Anita Roddick, Nina Campbell, Pam Golding, (Pam Golding Properties) and Liz McGrath (The Collection-Relais and Chateaux Hotels in South Africa).
Nicola now lives in Cape Town where she runs a design and consulting business.  (See Author and other Projects).


Bermuda 2003 The Star Group USA
World recipients of "The Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World"
Bermuda 2003


Finalist Woman of the Year Femina 1996
Finalist – Lebone Woman of the Year 1997
Winner Best Exhibition Silver Arrow Award 1998
Finalist – Shoprite Checkers/SABC 3 Woman of the Year – Business Category 2000
Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World 2003
Honoree – US Star Groups Leading Women Entrepreneurs 2003
Finalist – Olay's Iconic Woman of the Year 2009/10
Who's Who of South Africa 2010

Awarded Honorary Life Membership of IID (The South African Institute of the interior design profession) for her contribution to the South African decor and design industry.