From the pain of losing loved ones to the excitement of launching a new brand during lockdown and the whirlwind of landing a role on one of SA’s hottest reality TV shows … we chat to the beautiful, bubbly Kgomotso Ndungane.
She may be a striking celebrity with two successful businesses, but Kgomotso values family above all else. “I chose an oak tree as the logo for my business for a reason,” she says, smiling.
Oak trees are strong and their roots run deep. I am who I am today because of my roots.
Kgomotso is married to former Springbok rugby player, Odwa, and the couple have two children, Amahle (8) and Anathi (4). She is also the owner of well-known Mount Edgecombe-based wedding, events and floral company, Oak Celebrations, and recently launched a home, bath and body brand called LeLapa. Her most recent claim to fame however, is landing a role on The Real Housewives of Durban (RHOD), currently airing on Showmax.
“I wasn’t sure about it when they first approached me to be on the series. I didn’t know why they chose me because Odwa and I don’t live a flashy, luxurious lifestyle. I decided to go on to showcase my brands and along the way I learned a lot about myself,” she says.
A truly self-made entrepreneur, Kgomotso is passionate about the brands she has built over the years. Creating her own success has always been a priority for her and something she says she learnt from her family.
Raised in a township in Potchefstroom, Kgomotso comes from a tight-knit Tswana family. She was brought up by her grandparents, both of whom were strong, respected members of their community and passed away recently, five months apart from each other.
“I was privileged to have grown up surrounded by educators. Both my mother and grandmother were educators and played an important role in the community. My grandfather was a high-ranking member of the police force. Everyone knew and loved him. I spent my childhood learning from my grandparents and I was broken after losing them both last year.”
After school Kgomotso did a B.Com degree at the University of Pretoria before getting a job at an IT company. She later started her own IT consulting company in Johannesburg. It was while she was studying at TUKS that she met her future husband.
“Odwa was playing rugby for the Blue Bulls. I knew nothing about rugby and when he invited me to watch him play against the Brumbies at Loftus, I didn’t know what I was getting into,” she laughs. Around the same time that they met, Odwa moved to Durban to play for the Sharks.
Although Kgomotso made the decision pursue her career and remain in Johannesburg, the couple’s romance continued to blossom and she remembers fondly the first time Odwa invited her to meet his family in East London. “It was quite a culture shock, which I had to embrace, get to know and love. Xhosa people are extremely proud of their culture, Tswana people are also proud but not too vocal (so it’s vice versa),” she says. “We realised we had a lot to learn about each other and had to work together to find our middle ground. Family has always been important to both of us and I was truly gifted with Odwa. He keeps me calm and grounded.”
The couple were married in 2011 and Kgomotso moved to KZN in 2012. “We wanted to settle and start a family. There is just something different about Durban and I think it’s similar with most coastal towns and cities. Living near the ocean and spending time in nature grounds you as a person and gives perspective. People are very family-orientated here.”
Having always had a natural creative eye and appreciation for the finer things, Kgomotso left the IT world and started an events and floral business called Oak Celebrations. Her most recent business venture – a home, body and bath brand called Lelapa (which means ‘family’ in Tswana) – was inspired by her late grandparents and fine-tuned last year during lockdown. “I think my talents manifest in quieter moments and lockdown gave me time to focus on the business.”
Authenticity and staying true to who she is have always been important to Kgomotso, who says this was something she set out to hold onto from the moment she decided to go on the RHOD.
“It’s been quite an experience being on the show! I only get to see the final cut of each episode when everyone else does, so I live a ‘normal’ life for four days a week until the show airs on Showmax at midnight and then social media takes off! It has definitely been character-building!”
Finding balance with her businesses, motherhood and the show has been a challenge. “I don’t think balance just happens. It has to be carefully and intentionally crafted. For me, balance is about going on holiday with my family or a date night or playing golf once a week with my husband. Structure and routine are an important part of finding balance and family forces you to have structure. I have to consciously step away from work every now and then and slow down to gain some perspective.”
One of the most positive things to come from the show, she says, has been the number of young entrepreneurs who have reached out on social media asking for guidance and mentorship. “I love inspiring other ‘doers’ in this life.”
Details: @kgomotso_ndugane, @lelapa_brand, @oakcelebrations
Photographs: Chris Allan Photo Shoot location: Seaton Manor House
Makeup: Volenti Laurentina Dress: Kathrin Kidger