Words by Tiffany Lekuku
Social media maven and businesswoman, Lerato Kgamanyane has become one of the most admired and enthralling faces to be born out of the blogger and influencer era. At only 23 years old, Lerato has worked with brands such as Cosmopolitan Magazine, Boschendal Wines and Vogue Eyewear and in the past year started her own company HellenRose which led her to hosting her first event this past month. With a following of close to 100k across her social media platforms, Lerato keeps proving that she is a force to be reckoned with and one to keep a close eye on. I recently caught up with her to pick her brain on the business of social media and her journey leading up to it so far.
Tell us about your career background & how you navigated your way into the social media space.
Sheesh, so my first ever job was in fashion retail. I worked as a stylist for Urban Degree and as much as it was tough, I felt like it was necessary.. that I was necessary in the fashion space. At 17 I didn’t know how and in what route I’d navigate in fashion, but I knew that this is where I wanted to be. I then moved to Joburg at 19 and worked as a part time stylist at Doc Marten for a bit and then stopped to figure out Varsity life. I’ve always loved to write, I don’t best express myself in speech, but girl.. give me a pen and paper and you’ll have something! So I decided to marry my love for fashion and writing and that funneled into my blog. My blog opened me to the digital and social media space, and I developed an interest in how people engage online and the convenience thereof and that’s when I made the decision to take the space seriously and capitalize on it.
Why did you go the entrepreneurial route instead of a 9 – 5?
You know, I always say we’re called to our purposes or duties. Your calling is like the chicken licken orangutan that creeps up on you and grows heavily on you until you feed it. I don’t think I chose it, I was called to it.
How can you ( if at all) tell when you are on the right path to success?
When what I’m doing is 1 – effective, 2 – measurable in terms of progress and 3 – makes a difference.
Do you think being yourself furthers your career or are there other factors that are crucial to be considered?
There are definitely other factors! But yes, it’s important to be as genuine and true to self as possible. You don’t want to rise on false identity and then fall (because failure is inevitable), only to not recognize the horizon on which you left your career. There are other factors though, kindness to oneself can further your career, practice can further your career, financial literacy can further your career.
You have a large following with authentic engagement across all your social media platforms, have you strategically placed your brand as one that can be relatable or did it just happen organically?
Initially it was organic growth; there was no strategy behind my digital assets. I posted what I liked, said what I wanted and the followers just came. It was until I decided to be a business, that strategy was important to factor in. Niche identification, content planning, social media etiquette – these things had to come into play, but in them being factored in, I made sure I didn’t stop being relatable.
Do you have any tips for people looking to grow their following & social presence?
Lol, why would you wanna do that?!! It’s horrible. *Jokes*
Firstly, you need to ask yourself why. Why do you want a lucrative following and social media presence? Because with that comes duty to something, fundamentally, communication – whatever kind of communication. Secondly, ask yourself if you’re someone who can be socially responsible. We engage amongst enough morons and socially toxic and irresponsible people… we don’t need more. Thirdly, identify the market you see yourself most aligned to, and create/write engaging content that’ll drive that market to you/
You recently hosted your first event which focused on Women & Wealth .. Will we be seeing more such events and how important was that event for you?
Yaaaaaaaaaassss bbz! You will be seeing more of them. The event was very important to me, and I’m confident enough to say very important for other women too. I want to see women be as quick to reference trailblazers that are women and business peers that are women as quick as they do our counterparts. I want women networks to grow, and it is events such as this that will pave the destruction of the current profile of entrepreneurship (male), and have women forcefully amend it.
HellenRose , your social media management and creative consultancy company is an extension of your personal brand, what is one thing about the brand that makes it unique?
Outside of our fundamental lead being – For Women, By Women, I see this company escaping the typical “boutique” structure, that a lot of digital marketing agencies are in. I want it to eventually compete in the the mainstream economy and be top of mind for corporate organizations when they think “Social Media”.
Do you believe that the attitude towards bloggers and influencers has changed for the better in the past few years?
Slowly, yes. Look I’ve only been in the space since I was 20, so it’s been 3 years. I’m still a baby, a baby killing sh**, but a baby nonetheless. But in that time I can safely say that opinions have gone from “are they even necessary?” to “ PAY THEM MORE!!! They are key marketing channels” .. I’m happy with that.
With so much going on for you, how do you stay motivated ?
I begin with an ending in mind.
Trust me, I haaaaaaaate grafting and having to work my butt off. In the perfect world, I’d live in my bed, not do anything and just have money from Lord knows where operating for me. But that would strip me of substance. The process gives me substance.
I know what I want to be in the world, and I know what I want the things I put my hands on to reap in the world, and that’s what keeps me motivated.