With a keen nose for business, Katja Emanuel has built and run wildly successful enterprises over the years.
Being a business owner is no longer the all-boys’ club it once was. Women-owned entities in the formal sector represent approximately 37% of global businesses today. And Katja Emanuel of Bloubergstrand is one of these tough entrepreneurs who’s left her mark on a thriving hospitality empire. We’re just ever so lucky that her latest venture is right here in our backyard to enjoy.
The brain behind Wunderkammer in Philadelphia, she runs the undertaking with her daughter Claudia. This treasure trove in Schoor Street is brimming with antiques, art from renowned artists and potters, collectibles, as well as quirky furniture pieces from Africa and the Natal Midlands.
“Wunderkammer is actually a hobby. Open Friday to Sunday from 11h00 until 15h30, it leaves me with ample time to pursue other interests – such as travelling. I am after all a woman of leisure these days!” Katja said.
For 30 years, this dynamo had a lodge in Pomene, Mozambique; a 25-room country lodge in Mafikeng, North West – the first in this city and enjoyed by among others, Nelson Mandela; a 10-room guesthouse in the KZN Midlands; and a shop similar to Wunderkammer in Swartruggens, North West. All this while she was farming with cattle in Swartruggens!
Prior to entering the hospitality industry, Katja was dealer principal of Mmabatho Nissan – at that time, the only female running a dealership in the country.
“Ideally,” she said, “learning should be a lifelong undertaking. I certainly have never stopped learning. This might be a good opportunity to share valuable business advice with all aspiring entrepreneurs: don’t back down until the job is done.”
Born to German missionary parents, Katja’s first school years were in Botswana and she later finished high school in the North West where her father led a German Lutheran congregation.
With nomad blood coursing through her veins, she’s intent on adding many more stamps to her passport. She’s also no stranger to daredevil activities – having travelled 8 000 km through Africa riding pillion on a motorbike and skydiving in her younger years. “You only live once,” was her sage comment.
Dividing her time between residences in Bloubergstrand and Groenrivier Estate near Philadelphia with her trusty canines Abby and Heidi by her side, she reads extensively and enjoys a good walk.
To veg out I go camping
My pet place on the West Coast is Paternoster
My favourite restaurant is The Kitchen in Melkbos
As sport spectator I like watching the Dakar rally
I love eating cheesecake
My signature drink is white wine with loads of ice
Favourite reads are German novels, faction and biographies