When Dikeledi Shai was faced with a daunting task of organising her wedding, she decided it was time to kill two birds with one stone.
Not only did she have a beautiful wedding, but she emerged from her special day as an entrepreneur.
Her business, Shai Shai Hills Guest and Event Villa, continues to grow and adapt from when it was formed in 2008.
Shai, who is originally from Thembisa in Ekurhuleni, said the venue, which she co-owns with her husband Jacky, is in Acacia, Tshwane.
It hosts weddings, functions, parties and baby showers.
“It started when we were planning our wedding and we saw that we had to rent out a lot of things. We started buying things like glasses, dishes, cutlery and such,” she said.
“We then decided that since we have all of this equipment and wedding paraphernalia, why don‘t we start a company renting them out?”
They then started purchasing tables and cloths. In 2010 they organised his sister’s wedding.
“Décor was needed so we had to buy more, and we imported chairs from China and that’s how we started organising weddings. As the years went by, we saw a need of having a wedding and event venue and we saw an opportunity in the market for venues.”
Shai said funding remained one of their greatest challenges.
“We’ve sacrificed a lot to purchase the plot the villa is on. We had to surrender some of our policies to be able to make sure that we could purchase the property,” she said.
“We also discovered that when you buy a plot, banks give you a hassle. They don’t finance the whole amount, so we had to come up with the rest of the balance.”
But her business continues to function, even after having to close up until lockdown level two in September.
“Right now, we only host small events of 20 to 30 people, and we rent out equipment more than hosting events,” Shai said.
“We haven’t had a function since they’ve lifted the alcohol ban, so we’re hoping for functions in May, because we still have salaries to pay.”
She looks forward to hosting weddings again.
“I love meeting different people, especially brides when they’re planning their weddings. The fact that you’re helping them go through their experiences and then also give tips on what to do what not to do is really fulfilling,” Shai said.
“We also provide them with an all-inclusive package so that they don’t have to go from person to person looking for a quote. It includes everything except for cakes, which we outsource from other bakers.”
Shai is also still working as an optometrist. And the couple have started farming and plan to harvest their first produce this year.
The couple call their wedding business their “full-time side hustle because while we consider it a side-hustle, it still requires all of our time and effort”.
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