Career Advice From Clare Appleyard, Founder Of Katannuta Diamonds (South Africa)

My sensible side says “Start your business on the side, then, when you’ve replaced at least part of your fixed salary”, go full-time. My irresponsible side says “Sod safety, just do it now.”.


It’s been quite a journey! Before starting Katannuta Diamonds I had absolutely no entrepreneurial background whatsoever. My family was definitely of the “Go to university, get a degree and work for a corporate” kind of mindset. 10 years after quitting the corporate world, my parents still think leaving De Beers was a mistake! I quit my corporate job with absolutely no back-up plan other than Katannuta Diamonds, and whilst it’s worked out in the long run, there have been some hairy moments. There has been so much to learn along the way. My biggest mistake at the beginning was trying to be everything to everybody – we had many garbled ideas of who we wanted to sell to and in what context.

We took a paid-for listing on a diamond directory website and I’d get these half-baked enquiries that had me pulling my hair out. It took a marketing friend to ask “Do you really want to attract clients looking for cheap diamonds?”. The answer of course was no, and we cancelled our listing immediately. Once we figured out who our ideal client was – their budget, their relationship status, their geographical location – everything else fell into place. I’ve had to learn and master skills that would never have been required in my corporate job, from SEO to websites to marketing to Photoshop to communication and leadership skills. It’s certainly made my life richer, if not given me more grey hairs than before. It’s an on-going process. There is always something new to learn, new clients to attract, new ideas to conceptualize – being an entrepreneur is rarely boring.

Read her FULL interview with Lionessesofafrica