Kagi jewellery designer, Kat Gee, talks to Gill South about her experience at the Icehouse Owner - Manager programme.
Kagi is stocked in over 200 retail outlets across Australia and specialises on versatile jewellery that is affordable and uses real gemstones and pearl. Gee started Kagi at the age of 24 and recently had a show at NZ Fashion week.
What made you do an owner manager course?
Realising that I needed to up-skill myself to meet growing demands of the business. I understood that how I ran the business today would need to change to have the business of tomorrow. I needed to move from being opportunistic to being much more strategic.
What did you have to do to win the scholarship?
I had to fill in a questionnaire on where my business was at the time and what my vision was for the future of Kagi.
What did you take away from your course?
So much! From financial, to cultural, to marketing, I learnt so much across all aspects of the business, to even understanding myself better. The course helped identify my strengths and weaknesses - strengths, - creativity, innovation, tenacity, and drive. Weaknesses - knowledge gaps, but also a tendency to work too hard, and on occasion have unrealistic expectations of others.
What did you need help on?
Specifically how to structure the business for growth and how to create a measurable, inspiring vision with clear steps to achieve this.
What did you learn from other people on the course?
That business owners like to party!!! I learnt a lot of valuable people-management tips from the other business owners. Most of all I learnt that business is business, it doesn't matter what product you're selling, we all experience the same growing pains.
Did you have a panel on the course monitoring you?
Towards the end we presented our refined business plan and financials to a panel. This was a great experience as you got to look warts and all at other owners businesses too. I learnt the importance of focus - you can't do all things and need to ensure you're going out with a rifle, not a shotgun.
Has it helped your business as it goes international?
Definitely. It's taken me from a small business owner, to one that's equipped to run an international brand. I liken Icehouse to a hands-on MBA for business owners.
Did you make good contacts on the course who you have kept in touch with?
Great contacts, we are all still very much in touch and share each other's successes.
Would you do a course again?
I think in a few years it would be very valuable to repeat, and no doubt I would learn different things on the second time around.
Many New Zealand companies, large and small, regard the Chinese market as the Holy Grail. If they can attract interest in their product there, all their worries are over. SMEs, tell us your experiences thus far with the Chinese market. Perhaps you manufacture there, have an office there, would like to have an office there? Email me, Gill South at the link below with your stories.