Din­ing out – Gemelli

Meet the tal­ented black women who are at the fore­front of mak­ing one of Joburg’s trendi­est restau­rants, Gemelli, the place to be

True Love - - CONTENTS - By SISONKE LABASE

GUGU KHOJANE, 29, Brand & So­cial Me­dia Man­ager

Born in Zam­bia while her par­ents were in ex­ile, Gugu calls Dur­ban home and was raised by her grand­par­ents. Tell us about your chil­hood. “I’ve al­ways loved jour­nal­ism and pho­tog­ra­phy — my dad bought my first cam­era when I was 15. I stud­ied jour­nal­ism at the Univer­sity of Johannesburg (UJ).” Please share how you got to this job. “I paid my dues by be­ing a mag­a­zine jour­nal­ist. I then took a keen in­ter­est in brand mar­ket­ing. So I quit my job and did my hon­ours in strate­gic brand man­age­ment at Vega in 2014. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, I landed a job at TBWA\Hunt\Las­caris in 2015. I’ve al­ways wanted to be an en­tre­pre­neur so I left and started a com­pany with a friend called Hiro Dig­i­tal. Gemelli was one of our first clients.” What’s your role at Gemelli? “The founder and owner of Gemelli, Alex, is my hus­band. I’ve been with it from day one, and be­came brand man­ager af­ter es­tab­lish­ing my com­pany.” What does your day en­tail? “I’m re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing how the brand is per­ceived by the pub­lic and our cus­tomers – from the menu, staff uni­form, the in­te­rior and so­cial me­dia.” What in­spires you? “Work­ing with dif­fer­ent clients, get­ting unique briefs, and the whole Gemelli team.”

KELEBOGILE ‘KELZ’ MABUNDA, 27, Pub­lic Re­la­tions Man­ager

Beth­le­hem-born Kelebogile has been run­ning her thriv­ing PR com­pany KLM Pub­lic­ity for five years now, spe­cial­is­ing in tai­lor­ing unique com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pub­lic­ity strate­gies for brands.

Tell us about your child­hood. “I was born in Beth­le­hem and grew up in Bloem­fontein. For me, ev­ery­thing started when I moved to Joburg to study PR and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at UJ.”

How did you get to this point? “I started do­ing in­tern­ships be­fore I even grad­u­ated. I got my first PR-re­lated in­tern­ship when I was a third-year stu­dent — I worked at a global PR agency called Text 100. I then moved to Media24 and be­came part of the team that started Grazia. Fol­low­ing that, I worked at Brand Am­bas­sadors Firm and that’s when I knew I’d learnt all I could and de­cided to branch out on my own. Soon enough, KLM Pub­lic­ity was born. It was hard at the be­gin­ning. I moved into my par­ents’ home and started from the ground up us­ing my sav­ings. I used my con­nec­tions and free­lanced for other agen­cies be­fore mak­ing it on my own.” What’s your role at Gemelli? “I man­age all the me­dia re­la­tions to en­sure Gemelli re­mains a top notch fine din­ing es­tab­lish­ment.”

What does your day en­tail? “I’m up at 4am-5am to do my ad­min, then gym fol­lows be­fore I have break­fast at The Pantry. I pre­fer to set up my meet­ings there be­cause it’s con­ve­nient. I meet with the team on Wed­nes­days for brief­ings. I also check on my other clients or go back to my of­fice in Morn­ing­side to do the rest of the day’s work.”

AMY BONOLO SI­MON, 25, Front of House Man­ager

Amy learnt to be in­de­pen­dent from a young age while work­ing in the re­tail and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. She de­scribes the lat­ter as her happy place. Tell us about your child­hood. “My mom passed away while I was very young so my grand­mother raised me. She made sure I got an ed­u­ca­tion while she worked as a do­mes­tic worker. I started wait­ress­ing in Parkhurst when I was 16 and didn’t com­plete my stud­ies in graphic de­sign due to money rea­sons.” Talk us through your ca­reer so far. “I used to work in the evenings, man­ag­ing a store in Melville be­cause it was close to cam­pus (I stud­ied at UJ). I did that for two years be­fore join­ing a law firm as a re­cruit­ment co­or­di­na­tor – I hated it! I went back to the res­tau­rant I used to work for in Parkhurst, and that’s where I met Alex. I was serv­ing him and he said I should come see him. That was in July 2017, and the rest is his­tory.” What’s your role at Gemelli? “I man­age Gemelli’s prep-kitchen and the sis­ter res­tau­rant called The Pantry, lo­cated below Gemelli. We serve break­fast from 6.30am and in the evenings we host pri­vate din­ing events based on the chef ’s ex­pe­ri­ence.” What does your day en­tail? “Our day starts at the crack of dawn, to make sure break­fast is done well and the menu is set. I deal with the ad­min, and pre­pare for func­tions and set the decor. We serve ta­pas to Gemelli clients be­cause it’s closed dur­ing the day. I’m the first to get there and the last to leave. The Pantry is beau­ti­ful and peace­ful. You can eat, chill and work the whole day.” What in­spires you? “Gemelli – we’re get­ting big­ger and bet­ter ev­ery day.”

ABI­GAIL DUBE, 30, Ex­ec­u­tive Brand As­sis­tant

Abi­gail has worked in hos­pi­tal­ity for most of her life, and is now Gemelli’s brand as­sis­tant.

Tell us about your child­hood. “My mom is South African and my dad is Zim­bab­wean. I spent some years in Zim­babwe and moved to South Africa when I com­pleted high school; this was also af­ter I’d lost both my par­ents. I was raised by my mom’s sis­ter in Or­ange Farm.”

How did you get into the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try? “I started work­ing at my sis­ter’s bou­tique when I was 20. I also used to wait­ress in Green­side and Sand­ton. When I had my child, the hours be­came too stren­u­ous so I opted to work in a club as a wait­ress. Af­ter a while, I de­cided to re­build my ca­reer and searched for bet­ter jobs on­line. I in­ter­viewed at Gemelli and was hired by the chef. Alex said he ac­tu­ally didn’t need more wait­resses at the time so he told me I should be a host­ess. While do­ing that, I’d jot down his ap­point­ments and in­form him of up­com­ing meet­ings. He was im­pressed with me and pro­moted me to his as­sis­tant.”

What’s your role at Gemelli? “I run the ad­min – I han­dle sup­pli­ers, pay­ments, pay­roll and make sure ev­ery­thing runs smoothly. If any­one wants to meet with Alex they go through me, and I deal with any com­plaints be­fore in­form­ing Alex.”

Who in­spires you? “My boss, Alex. See­ing how he started and where he is now, amazes me.”

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