28-year-old businesswoman and winemaker Siwela Masogo shares with us what inspired her to start a wine business as well as her success tips
Share with us your childhood dreams?
Growing up, my dream was to become a doctor, unfortunately when I completed my matric my results did not meet the entry requirements to study medicine.
What attracted you to the biotechnology field, which you studied in varsity and why did you want to branch into wine making?
After doing my research with regards to what biotechnology was, I found it very interesting, especially the fact that the course is broad.
When did you establish Siwela Wines and what were some of the challenges you faced breaking into this market?
Siwela Wines was established in 2018. We spent the year 2017 working on our first vintage before getting our wines into the market. Penetrating the market is one of the challenges within the industry, this is also because the market is saturated with many brands and we are all competing for the market share. The wine business is also one that is capital intensive, without enough start-up capital it makes it almost impossible to succeed.
Share why you named your wine brand after your own name?
I had a difficult time deciding on the name for my brand. Initially, I wanted a neutral name. I thought of a European/ white name so that my brand would fit in within the range of various brands in the market. Also, considering the stereotype with regards to “black over white”. We searched for the names we had in mind for the availability to file for the trademark; however, none were available, I had to pay R9000 for the search excluding the application fee and then resorted to considering something personal and authentic. Siwela felt like the perfect name.
Do you have a mentor who guides you in your business journey, and what is the best business advice you have received that you apply to your business?
I don’t have a personal mentor yet; I seek advise from close friends. The best advice was to never put your eggs in one bucket. Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we might get too attached to our ideas and give in everything even when the plan fails, it is important to recognise that some ideas work, and some don’t. When dealing with an idea that doesn’t work, it is best to let it go early than losing everything.
Who is your target market and how do you best market your brand?
Ideally with wine, a target market would be anyone who can afford and enjoy our wines. However, we are targeting the black market and upcoming wine enthusiast.
What dreams do you have for your wine? Will consumers see them in retail stores soon?
The next step for Siwela wines is to expand our business and incorporate efficient business models, we are also working towards our NPO which will focus on empowering and educating under privileged young people and mentoring them into the wine and tourism sector.
Describe your busiest day
At times I must respond to requests, take orders, arrange for pick-up and deliveries of the wine, work on marketing strategies and still be in and out of meetings with prospective clients.
You are currently working towards a Masters in Wine Making at the Cape Wine Academy; how do you balance that with running your business and your social time?
I am passionate about wine; I don’t only do formal courses, but I read every day on the internet about wine. I have not yet mastered the trick to balance my schedule, I am just glad I am doing what I love doing. It doesn’t feel like work at all.
How can one break into this industry, from your experience?
It is important to have the relevant skills, both on production level to business management, however, nothing is impossible. Patience is important as the margins are low, most of the costs in the wine business go to promotion and marketing more than the product itself. One needs to understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
What are your success tips to young people?
Always follow your passion, it will fulfill you and if you are lucky, you can make money while doing what you love. Have patience and work harder to become good at what you do.
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