10 Sep IG HEROES BUSINESS WINNER: KIFF KAK!
Congratulations to Courtney Hodgson aka Kiff Kak on being July’s IG HERO under the Business category. Instagram Heroes is our ongoing monthly award series that celebrates not only businesses and creatives, but campaigns as well. We caught up with Courtney to learn more about her creative process and Kiff Kak as a brand, read all about it below:
“I have always been surrounded by an eclectic mix of cultures. For large portions of primary school, I was the only white person in my class. Because of this upbringing, my passion for other cultures grew from a very young age. Before every formal school event, braiding my hair in cornrows was a must and visiting the local spaza after school for a Kota or a bag of ama kip kips was a regular activity. Moving to a school in Benoni later on, the unique humour we have as South Africans (especially when making a small town like Benoni the brunt of our jokes) became a big part of my creative outlook on life.”
When did you start your Instagram account and what inspired you?
I started Kiffkak’s Instagram page in April of 2018. Instagram is the perfect platform to connect with people that are genuinely interested in engaging with the content that your brand puts out there. It has provided many opportunities to connect with potential customers and to grow a network of like-minded creatives/ business owners.
In a few words, what does your business stand for?
Kiffkak at its’ core, is a celebration of South African culture. A big part of the Kiffkak brand is creating humorous products that showcase uniquely local imagery and copywriting that reflects South African culture. In doing this, Kiffkak has not only become a brand that brings local people together, but also one that makes them laugh.
How has Kiff Kak grown since launching and what has this journey been like for you?
Kiffkak started as a self-promotional project in university and has quickly grown into a range of almost 50 unique products. Since launching, the brand has allowed me to take part in events such as the Design Indaba Emerging creative program and Kamers Makers which have helped me connect with and learn from many talented local business owners. Kiffkak has also won a Silver Loerie award, been featured on the Home Channel, Sunday Times and Bizcommunity which I am extremely grateful for. Taking the leap to follow your dream and start your own business can be a daunting one, but every single time someone places an order I know that the risk is worth it. Without the customers that have supported the brand, Kiffkak would not be able to continue growing.
Tell us a bit about your audience, how you’ve managed to grow, and how you engage with them (do you ask your followers what they want to see from you or just give them the content that you want to produce?)
I’m sure that every business owner would share a similar sentiment, but I truly have the kiffest customers! Besides the odd tannie that gets offended by the name (and some of the colourful language on the products), the response has been nothing but encouraging. Something I try to keep in mind when using social media is that it is more about quality than quantity. While it can look super impressive to have a large number of followers, having a gradual growth in your following that consists of people that genuinely want to connect with your brand is much more sustainable.
Since starting the business, I have come to understand the importance of building genuine, human-centred connections with your customers. The Direct Message feature on Instagram allows me to communicate with a wide range of potential customers much faster than on other platforms. I really enjoy being able to get to know the people that are interested in the brand on a more personal level.
While I don’t ask my followers what they would prefer to see me post on the feed, I do use tools on Instagram to gauge which products they would be interested in purchasing. If you maintain your brand identity when posting online, you will organically attract followers that align more with the audience you are trying to target.
What does winning the “1000 Grams of Likes” trophy mean to you?
Sometimes, social media can be an extremely daunting platform to put your content on. There is constant societal pressure to have the perfect posts, captions, hashtags and grid. Winning the “1000 Grams of Likes” trophy proves that being authentic and relatable online can go a long way.
Do you have any tips for local creators and designers just starting out – both in terms of their product or offering, and how they go about marketing this?
My biggest piece of advice to local creatives would be: Never discount the importance of celebrating your own story through your craft. For me personally, the reflection of their story always draws me to a creatives’ work. By presenting an unapologetic, unique perspective on how you see the world- your personality is really able to shine through, solidifying what you can offer as a brand. There are so many eclectic mixes of people in South Africa, and so many personal stories yet to be told. When it comes to marketing your brand (whether your brand is you as an artist, or something you start like Kiffkak), something I have found is that people are much more likely to become invested in your vision when they also have a story to invest in.
When marketing a brand that is story-driven, it is important to establish the tone of voice that you plan to use in your captions and the style of imagery that you plan to use in your feed and story posts. When you keep details like this consistent, it becomes easier for your followers to understand what they are buying into when following you.
What is something that 10and5 readers may not know about you as a person?
I am currently 23 years old and have lived in Benoni for my whole life. From a young age, I have always been surrounded by an eclectic mix of cultures. For large portions of primary school, I was the only white person in my class. Because of this upbringing, my passion for other cultures grew from a very young age. Before every formal school event, braiding my hair in cornrows was a must and visiting the local spaza after school for a Kota or a bag of ama kip kips was a regular activity. Moving to a school in Benoni later on, the unique humour we have as South Africans (especially when making a small town like Benoni the brunt of our jokes) became a big part of my creative outlook on life. Then, going to varsity in Pretoria being surrounded by Afrikaans culture, I quickly realised that I don’t identify with any single culture; at the core of it, I’m a South African and I started Kiffkak to represent just that.
What can we expect from you in 2021? Any projects or collaborations to keep an eye out for? The main aim for the rest of the year is to keep growing the Kiffkak customer base, to introduce a handful of new products to the range and to launch Kiffkak Cares (a division of the brand that gives back to communities in need). Something to definitely keep an eye out for is the first-ever Kiffkak Cares project “Lekka Lunchboxes” which is launching soon. Kiffkak has partnered with the amazing N.P.O. Ladles of Love to raise funds for their Munch Club school feeding scheme initiative. Kiffkak will be releasing three individual lunchbox designs for this project and for every lunchbox sold, a portion will be donated to Ladles of Love.
The long-term dream is to open a chain of Kiffkak stores in South Africa that directly serve the local market by providing access to proudly South African gifts and merchandise while helping communities and aiding job creation.
What is your favourite Instagram feature right now and why?
My favourite Instagram feature right now would have to be the polls that you can add to stories. Never before has it been this easy to get your target audiences’ feedback on product ideas you have. By popping a few product variations on a story and adding a poll, I am able to gauge my customers’ product preferences within 24 hours and make better-informed business decisions.