Interview with Koni Maliehe

Koni Maliehe, owner of Koni Wines, is a feminine tour de force.  Leaving the Financial Services scene, she wanted to explore a new world and soon made in-roads in the wine industry.

We asked Koni a few questions to get a sense of where she’s at and what drives her.

Who is Koni and what makes her “tick”?

“Koni is an Entrepreneur, Daughter, Sister and Aunt. I am surrounded by people who believe in my dreams and goals. A favourite quote is “Dreams only die if you let them starve”.

I am shaped by principles of hard work, courage, honesty, respect, and inclusivity and believe that all humans given a chance, can be great! To be great comes with responsibility to also serve others and inspire them to do the same!”

What gets you going in the morning?

“Besides my quiet time, I read a lot. I read a variety of topics that support and edifies me and my business.

On the work front, I believe in planning and revisit my weekly objectives and revise accordingly – then put ACTION into it.”

What makes you laugh?

“I am always the loudest in the room, especially when there is humour, joy, and positive energy! I also make a habit of laughing at myself…and there are so many wicked stories to laugh at!”

What is your biggest fear?

“My biggest fear is that time is limited. Time is also a gift, but life is short!  We only have limited moments to achieve results and do better than yesterday.

So, I fear losing focus on the bigger picture and being caught up on un-productive issues that adds no value to my vision.”

What makes you love what you do?

“One of the reasons I started the business was to stretch myself into newness, I was tired of the known and wanted to totally learn something new. Wine is a challenging, slow business.

I have great respect for those in the industry and greatly admire those who, like myself, had to self-fund their business from inception and persevered through the hardships.

There is so much effort and investment that went into the business that to give up is not a choice!”

Tell us about your customers? 

“My ideal customer is the affluent market who are experienced wine drinkers. I also work on converting non wine drinkers who may be intimidated by wine language and culture.

A key success factor has been partnering with corporates that serve my wine at their functions and present it as gifts to guests. Relationship building is a skill that has and continues to serve me well!”

What has been the reasons for your success?

“Business is about relations, networking and achieving results. Most of my big breaks came from referrals but getting marketing support and market access opportunities from organisations such as the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit surely makes a great difference.

Positive energy speaks loud and actions even louder! It is simple really, surround yourself with people who know more than you!”

How did the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit assist you with business growth?

SAWITU assisted my business with Financial Marketing & Mentorship Support and this played a huge role in relaunching my business in 2020.  Support such as this plays a massive role for us SME’s who are self-funded.  SAWITU also assisted with market access where Koni Wines was able to participate in some international & local wine events such as Tops Wine Shows.

With entities such as SAWITU more black wine businesses will be afforded an opportunity to excel and grow.

What lies ahead for Koni Wines? 

Having been selected as a participant in Hollard’s Big Ads for Small Business campaign, with the aim to drive sales and brand awareness, we have been working hard on our strategy to align with the campaign and really take advantage of this “miraculous” break. Koni Wines will be featured on DSTV, Good Hope FM and a billboard.

Also, more collaborations are in the pipeline, so things are very exciting at last!”

What is your advice to business owners?

“Remove self-entitlement from your attitude.  Be driven by values rather than personal gain.

Put extra effort and hard work into it.”

Koni Wines is a very good illustration of the dedication and perseverance it takes from the owner in achieving her dreams. The journey of developing a sustainable wine company and wine brand is not an easy one and requires a focused strategic plan with clear, achievable and realistic goals. We are excited about the Koni Wines journey and future prospects.

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