Ledimo Seliyoi, known by her loved ones as Didi, recently started a condiment business at the behest of her friends. Under the Didi’s Kitchen brand, she makes and sells sauces, chilli-infused oils, mayonnaise, spice blends and even flavoured salts.
“[Didi’s Kitchen] came from just ordinary stuff that I used to make in my kitchen. Sometimes I would give [what I make] to friends, [so] they gave me the idea. [They said,] ‘hey, your products are so good. Why don’t you try selling these to other people?’, and that’s how the business came about,” she explains.
Based in Randburg in Gauteng, Didi’s Kitchen is a home-based business, and Seliyoi manufactures the products in partnership with a cousin and friend. She says expansion is definitely on the cards, especially considering the amount of interest in her business.
“We’ve got plans to venture out and get a kitchen space, like a cloud kitchen, where we can do mass production and hopefully be able to create some jobs in the new year. We are definitely in a process where, right now, there’s a lot of interest in my product. [So] we need to grow, and we need to get into a bigger production space.”
Cloud kitchens, otherwise known as virtual kitchens, are commercial kitchens agri-processors and restaurants rent. They are especially tailored for delivery-only services. As with most small businesses, one of Seliyoi’s biggest challenges is funding. “I used up a lot of savings [and had] to take out a loan here and there to balance out getting everything started.”
Rolling with the good and the bad
Starting your own business may come with many challenges, but it also has its rewards. Seliyoi says, for her, the feedback she has been getting about her products are one of the most rewarding aspects.
“Getting feedback from people saying, ‘your sauce is nice’ or ‘I’ve never tried mayonnaise with garlic’, and things like that. And just being able to look at my product. I’m proud that I’m the one who created that. That is my work.”
Seliyoi’s goals for her business include the creation of a family legacy, and she aims to have her products on every shelf in the country.
“All my cousins who are currently unemployed and my aunts who should be employed but don’t have work, can have a hand in the business. And we can keep it in the family, for their kids and my kids. [They] would have something as a legacy that we hand down to them.”
Seliyoi has the following tips for aspiring agripreneurs:
Don’t be afraid of failure
Learn from all your mistakes and grow from there. This is not my first business venture. I have tried other things before that didn’t work out. [But] this is the one that I feel like I was meant to be doing for a living. So, don’t give up. When you fail, always try again and again and again until you get it right.
Don’t give up on your dreams or ideas
Don’t give up on your dreams or ideas, no matter how small they are. Keep knocking on every door to get that much-needed support or funding to kickstart your dream. I had problems with funding, hence I went into my savings. I went into getting loans because I believed in this so much that I wanted to get it done. And I had to use every means necessary to get this going.
Fight the fear
Don’t second guess yourself or let fear get in the way of achieving your dreams. Have clear goals of what you want to achieve and set milestones.
Try and find a mentor
Try and find a mentor. [Someone] who can help you to achieve your success. I feel when you have the right people in your corner who motivate you and push you in the right direction, you always have that chance of rising above your challenges.
Take time to choose your own path
Take time to choose your own path and run your race at your own pace. That is very important. Do not give in to the pressures or trying to compete with others around you. Do things at the pace that you believe is good enough for you and you will make it.