For our final 2022 Edition of Director Woman, we got to kick it with Katlego Komana, a vibrant young professional and entrepreneur who owns Kay Holdings – a company that houses premium wine and coffee brands Kay Wine and Kay Coffee. Katlego founded her company as she furthered her studies in Medical Sciences. Although she initially wanted to focus on coffee as an avid coffee lover, the lack of representation for black girls in the wine industry motivated her to tap into that market as well.
I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
As it often goes with many ‘smart kids’, Katlego’s path, as chosen by the adults around her, was supposed to lead to a two letter title, Dr. “You know how it is growing up being labelled smart, everyone wanted me to do medicine, but I always wanted to be in entrepreneurship. At the time my family I’d eventually outgrow that aspiration and settle for a glittering career as an MD. As I progressed through school I followed the science route, but in the background of my desires, I still had the passion for business. So while doing my post grad I started my business. For me it was let’s see how it goes. To my delight, after launching the business took off and I got a lot of reviews and press in newspapers and radio. But once I got into my masters, it became harder to run the business and give 100% to my studies so eventually I had to take a break and focus on my studies. That was late last year. One of the last things I remember doing for my business was showcasing my wine sometime in March. Business is demanding and I don’t want to be so overwhelmed or in an unhealthy place mentally that I end up putting out anything less then perfection. I value my customers and my service has to be great. I don’t wan people buying my products and not having the best experience. So currently I’ve stopped most business operations and I’m focusing on my career and job. That’s where I am now,” she shares.
Katlego hopes to be up and running again next year.
THE CHALLENGE OF STARTING AND MY EXPECTATION OF BUSINESS
Katlego doesn’t have much of a background or childhood experience with entrepreneurship. She tells us, “there aren’t many entrepreneurs in my family. I mean I had a gran who had a shop, it wasn’t big or anything. The idea of entrepreneurship was pushed out of me very early in my life, so I didn’t really draw too many lessons from my surroundings. There wasn’t really someone around me that could’ve shared valuable lessons.”
The challenge of starting is one many business owners are familiar with. “The hard thing about starting is starting with fears. I didn’t know how to start and I worried how people would receive my product or if they’d enjoy it. I countered those fears as best as I could by doing my due diligence, research. I had to figure out how I’d make it work. Capital was also a concern. Although I had some money saved up to use as capital, it wasn’t enough. I had to make sure I minimised costs where I could. Starting a business can get expensive but you know you have to invest in things like marketing so your brand can get noticed. I tried to keep those costs low so I didn’t overextend my capital,” she says.
The 26 year-old had low expectations when she founded her company. But to her surprise, her experience exceeded her minimal outlook on business. “For me it was a trial and error, I didn’t have any support and I really wasn’t sure it would work out. I just knew I had to try. When I put my product out there I was surprised to see people buying, others wanting to collaborate, my social media picking up and people offering affordable services. It started with wine and then I also tapped into coffee.”
A bit of corporate and a touch of business – which rocks your boat better?
“I’m ambitious. I’m in corporate now and I’ve been leading projects and doing well with my career. But I still see myself as an entrepreneur. I’ve actually decided to pursue an MBA because I see corporate isn’t for me. I now consider being here as personal development, I am learning skills that I will be able to transfer when I run my business. This is only the beginning, it’s not the end point. I’m also building valuable relationships that’ll help me grow my business and my brand in the future. I mean I also believe I can have both so.”
What would the title of your autobiography be?
“Diamond in the rough.”
How do you enjoy your weekends?
“I love trying new restaurants, going to art galleries and live performances, the Sunday soul session kind of events.”
How do you want to be remembered?
“As someone who gave it a shot. I always say I’d rather try and fail, but know I tried. We’ll always have fears, but if you don’t try then you’ve already failed. I tried with Kay Wine despite starting from a place where people thought I might fail. Those same naysayers now support and show off with me, like that’s my niece, Katlego is my friend.”
What do you believe your purpose to be?
“I am a pathfinder. I’m called to help others navigate life, to help people who might find me relatable to win their own battles. I’m here to help, not just to build my own success.”
Dear teen Katlego… ❤️
“It will get better. It’s not always going to be this way, it’s seasonal, not permanent.”