It’s been years since I discovered Kopano Mocwane on the inter webs, but it’s only recently that I made the decision to finally approach her to feature on TCC. A woman of numerous talents, Kopano has played a vital role in the South African digital space since she first broke out as the winner of Miss Teen SA in 2008. Since then, she’s overseen the creation of countless ventures! Get to know Kopano below as she speaks honestly about the highlights and pitfalls she has experienced in her entrepreneurship journey…
Interviewer: Zimasa Mabuse
Kopano, I have been wanting to profile you for the longest time but have been crippled by intimidation! Where do we even begin? So much success has followed you since you won the Miss Teen SA back in 2008 and what a steep uphill to entrepreneurial triumph you’ve had! You are known to be an ambitious serial entrepreneur: the founder of Club She Is (formerly known as She Is Tailored) – a platform that entails exclusive membership and access to resources such as suit tailoring, bespoke handbags, access to invaluable monthly business events and intimate online coaching amongst many, many other endeavors. Could you please take us through your journey to entrepreneurship?
Haha, well… Firstly thanks you for the compliment, a lot has happened since 2008. There was a time when I thought that I had a very unsuccessful journey since Miss SA Teen.
I spent a year learning TV production, I spent another year presenting an international award-winning online kids news show, and spent another year doing drive time radio; I discovered online marketing and influencer marketing in 2009 and I headed up campaigns for some of SA’s biggest brands in my early 20’s – and this all happened because that title opened the door to all these experiences and more.
In hindsight, all of those experiences taught me a lot and they helped me grow up.
Four years into my entrepreneurial journey, I now know that anything worth having takes time. It takes a new level of understanding and maturity.
I registered my first company in 2008, when I was 18/19 years old, it was a CC but nothing really came out of it. My brick and mortar business was a model, dance and workout studio which I opened in Rustenburg in 2012 (I think). It lasted 2 years before I had to shut it down because the town was going through a little bit of a recession and attendance dropped from 40 students to 3.
In December 2014 I quit my 9-5 and registered TKBC Agency which is my online brand and business consulting company, which is my version of a fulltime job. It’s been growing and it’s been doing well. The first 2 years were hell to say the least but I’m glad we’re alive and thriving today!
In 2017 we launched She Is Tailored which is a concierge professional women’s tailoring company and in June this year we launched CLUBSHEIS.com
Tell us the story behind the birth of Club She Is – where does the idea generate from?
CLUBSHEIS.com is the evolution of She Is Tailored. After being in business for a little over a year, I noticed certain gaps in the market, which I wanted to fill.
I connected with focused and ambitious women who were striving for more in their lives: More recognition, more money, more fulfilment from their jobs and more knowledge on how they could make this happen. This inspired me to look at She Is Tailored and see how we could fill in those gaps. That’s how CLUBSHEIS.com was born.
I work fulltime as an online brand and business coach and consultant so I’ve seen the 360 degree transformations that have happened in my client’s lives through the coaching and consulting that we’ve given them.
CLUBSHEIS.com pools my assets and resources together with those of my partners to make real transformation happen in the areas of style, finance, personal and professional branding and so much more for the people who choose to become members of the CLUB.
A prime focus for you at present seems to be the upskilling and knowledge sharing amongst women in particular – outside of the obvious, why the choice to target women in particular?
I have a very open and honest preference for working with women. I’ve been through the ringer as a woman wanting to make something out of her life and men haven’t always been helpful or gracious about their contributions towards that success. I worked hard to find a way to find my success without having to face such opposition or nonsense.
I truly believe that women want to be able to take charge of their lives and lead a live that doesn’t rely on the “kindness” of a man.
There is nothing more empowering than having the ability to change your life and having the skills and the knowledge to create the type of lifestyle that you desire.
It’s easy for one to look at you and believe that when it comes to business, you have all the skills bedded down. Could you share which major challenges and mistakes helped shaped who you are as a business owner today?
I’ve made some tragic mistakes in the past and they all stemmed from being over confident and having a sense of entitlement. I have no idea WHY I was like that but I learnt my lesson and I learned it the hard way.
I don’t have all the skills bedded down but God has blessed me with the ability to jump head first into figuring things out. I’ve come to a point where I don’t even recognize problems, I just jump straight into solution mode. I learn as I go, I experiment a lot and I’m not scared to try new things. This has honestly been my saving grace in business and I pray that I never lose that ability as I grow older.
What is the one major aspect that you believe most entrepreneurs and business owners largely overlook, that is a contributing factor to their success?
You have to make deliberate effort to learn more about what you’re already doing. Best practices don’t always stay the same, the fast pace at which the world is moving means that there is always something new to learn and experiment with.
Never EVER get too arrogant or too “good” to think that you can’t learn something new about your field of work.
How have you gone about funding all your business ventures – would you mind detailing accordingly?
I WENT BROKE, haha
Being broke teaches you to be very resourceful and it teaches you how to do a lot with very little.
I’ve learned how to start zero risk businesses and I think that more entrepreneurs need to learn how to shift the risk and find ways to make money without risking their reputations and the little that they have.
When I look through your journey as an entrepreneur, I believe something that you do particularly well is maintain strong reputational capital. How hard do you work on your image & reputation?
Very hard. I am very deliberate about what I say and how I say it because I know that it will influence my businesses. Money burns and so does everything else but your knowledge and your reputation will pull you through the hard times.
I’ve been fortunate enough to see what happens to entrepreneurs when they lose it all. Their reputation was the one thing that they could rely on to rebuild their lives.
It is important to realize that when you have nothing else to offer, your reputation will be the one thing that will pull you through. You’ll kick yourself for not taking the time to nurture your reputation and your connections.
One piece of advice you wish you had been given before starting your business ventures?
When I quit my job I had only saved enough to cover my personal expenses for 3 months. That was a stupid, stupid, stupid mistake. Unlike what most traditional business plans predict, it takes way more than 3 months to actually get money into your bank account so save for 6 months at least PLUS save for your basic business expenses too!
Start your business while you still have the comfort of a salary. Once you have learned how to effectively get clients and get money into your back account then you can consider quitting your job.
And, I always say this to my clients, all you need is just ONE paying customer to prove that you have a worthy product or service. After that you need to focus on getting more customers and keeping them happy.
If freely given R100 000 I would…take 50% of it and put it into building different online information products which will generate more income and put the rest in an aggressive unit trust.
If freely given R 1 million, I would…take R50 000 and put it into building different online information products which will generate more income, reserve R100 000 for marketing and software development and R100 000 aggressive unit trust that I can tap into should I need it and the rest in a more balanced, conservative long-term investment.
Someone I am dying to have in my network is… Khanyi Dhlomo and Dr Anna Mokgokong
My biggest money mistake was… Getting into debt as soon as I did! That clothing account and credit card were bad bad mistakes! And getting into entrepreneurship without being financially ready
Best investment…Every scent I’m spending on my education both formal and online
Inspiration in 3 words…Do it NOW!