By Charndré Emma Kippie
Caron Kganyago-Williams is the incredible Founder and Director behind the ‘boutique influencer relations, content ideation and cultural insights agency’, known as The Throne Agency. The Throne is a 100% black, woman-owned content, influencer relations, insights and social media agency. It also serves as a trending online publication – of which Caron is the editor.
Hailing from Polokwane, Caron completed a BA Degree at the University of Limpopo, majoring in Psychology and Sociology. Thus, the journey into working with people on a daily basis in the field of PR and Media, was an organic move for her. Prior to beginning her own business as a creative entrepreneur, Caron was a Social Media Account and Campaign Manager for Ogilvy & Mather South Africa, and then went on to become the Editor-in-Chief of The Plug Mag.
What have been some of the biggest challenges and thrills of launching your own business?
One of the biggest challenges was establishing The Throne Agency as a business that can take on risks and responsibilities, such as employing young creatives and remunerating them for their work, with starting capital. I bootstrapped a lot to get things done and to get the business to where it is now.
The biggest thrill for me as a creative is the fulfillment I get from seeing concepts that my team and I envision, and work hard on, coming to life and being received well by audiences, brands and our partners. Launching my business has been an adventure of note because no two days are ever the same, but when you see everything come together, all the hard work, effort, sweat and tears make the journey worthwhile.
What are your main career objectives for your project? How do you hope to make a difference?
When I started my journey in advertising, I was exposed to the harsh reality that there was no seat at the table for a woman, someone like me, and I dared to build my own throne. My experiences of systematic exclusion when I was building my career instilled a deep desire for me to build my own entity that would allow for young black creatives to express themselves as they see fit. This has since been at the cornerstone of The Throne – to build an entity that allows for young black women to not only be in rooms where decisions are made, but to also be at the helms of those decisions and be the driving force of change.
Tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?
Dreams, ambition, relationships, self-confidence and the will to become successful, amongst other things, got me here. I have always wanted to have my own magazine publication, so I decided to immerse myself in advertising so that I could be exposed to the business of magazines and publications, young creatives, brands, and brand managers. I wanted to equip myself with knowledge, networks, relationships, and skills that have come in handy in my journey to building The Throne Agency.
The experience of being sidelined also made me see the importance of creating a space where black creatives could thrive. I saw the need for black women to also contribute to the larger media and digital industry, and this is what The Throne Agency is about – diversity, inclusion, creativity and progress in the industry and in the general society. Working in the advertising industry unlocked my mind to always research and be in the know of the next trend or the next direction the industry the industry will take. The shift from traditional media to digital media, as well as the changes in how audiences consume content, were at the very foundation of building The Throne Agency.
How do you manage competition within your field? Do you have tips for maintaining a competitive edge?
I think that competition is healthy and is what helps us to push each other, and ourselves, to grow beyond imagination. That said, I really believe in collaboration. It is so important for us to come together and build this industry that will outlive us. It is important for us to show the next generation just how incredible we are as a collective and how growing together will advance the industry much further and quicker.
Focusing on my own goals and vision is what centers me. I know what I am working towards, thus, what other people are doing is rarely ever competition. We are all just focused on our own goals and paths. Being an intrinsic creative, I ensure that I stay abreast of our times and the development of the industry. I make sure that I always look to the future and build ideas or concepts that are in line with where things are going.
Some tips and advice:
- Research more: I cannot emphasise the importance of research in this industry. Being in the digital media industry requires a high level of research, drive and eagerness to know and be informed, and to just keep up with the times.
- Stay ahead of the curve: With a digital publication, we need to stay ahead – The Throne Magazine is doing an incredible job at documenting the trends, changes and developments of our industry, and shifting how urban culture content is being consumed.
- Nurture your creativity: It’s important to expose yourself to the different facets of creativity and to be in various spaces that drive and enhance creativity – be it in the arts, fashion, finance, digital media, brands, agriculture etc. This is what inspires brilliant creative ideas and ensures that one is able to compete in their respective field and beyond.
When it comes to ‘content ideation’, what does it take to be the best at what you do?
You have to want to be better at what you do each and every time – consistently. It takes passion, drive and ambition to reach one’s fullest potential. You need to have a hunger to build something bigger than yourself, and want to carve new avenues and something unimaginable – which all comes from staying abreast of the times. It takes networking and building relationships that will help you achieve your goals, and wanting to immerse yourself within a team of young, vibrant and creatives who are incredibly talented and can contribute to building The Throne.
What 3 tips do you have when it comes to customer or client acquisition in your field?
- Relationships have served us a great deal at The Throne. My foundation in the advertising space enabled me to build relationships with creatives, brands, brand managers, PR practitioners, media buyers who now support us and have contributed a great deal to our growth. Build relationships with people in your field and industry and maintain those relationships – people move around all the time, you never know where people will go.
- Network with new brands, new managers, new talent – they will help sustain you and keep the business relevant to the young audiences.
- Be aware and strategic about your creative positioning. Market yourself to the digital community in a way that they consume content.
Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have inspired you and your career thus far? If so, please provide the titles.
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Podcast has been incredible for my holistic growth as a person, as a woman, as a black woman and entrepreneur. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight has helped me be open minded and creative about what I do in my own business. It inspired me to always think out of the box.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line?
My son is my big ‘why’. He really helps me to push myself and work towards building something bigger than myself, that will outlive my existence and have a bigger generational impact. Building a secure future for my son is what makes the hard work, sweat and tears all worthwhile.
Losing my mom at 16 months old stripped me of security and access to things, and I just want to make sure that my son has a different start in life; a future that has endless possibilities, vision, ambition, drive and resources.
Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or community outreach projects?
I am an ambassador for Play Your Part – Brand SA and I work with the brand to give back where possible.
Who or what inspires your creative flair on a daily basis?
I think that Oprah, Meghan Markle, Nomzamo Mbatha are doing an incredible job at showing us what we are capable of as women. Basetsana Khumalo and Jay-Z’s business acumen inspires me to push how I think and do things in my business.
What advice do you have for future generations who aspire to work in your industry?
Believe in yourself and do not let your background define your potential. Many of us are incredibly talented, but lack self-confidence because of how we have been socialised. Research – the internet has democratised access to information and there are free resources that can help you get to where you want to – use them. Build relationships. Social media has enabled us to reach people who previously were never accessible to us – utilise it to the best of your ability.