Kathu Biz interviews Hettie du Plessis-Krüger, Owner of Lugkasteel

Hettie du Plessis-Krüger, Owner of Lugkasteel

Tell us about a bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Hettie du Plessis. I grew up on a farm near Kuruman. As a child I used to make fridge magnets and sell them to the other learners. In grade 7, I was Seodin Primary School’s Entrepreneur of the Year and got to go to the KTV Market Day in Kimberley to exhibit my magnets.
As a high school learner, I modified my friends’ jeans into skirts for money. I was also the one carrying my camera around at school events – still a R99 shoot and point film camera from CNA. In my matric year I bought my first DIGITAL point and shoot camera.

Weddings are my passion. I originally studied Fashion Design at Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design in Stellenbosh and graduated in 2006. For a few years, I made wedding and matric farewell dresses for clients.
When I exhibited at Kathu Village Mall’s Bridal Expo for the first time in 2012, it was still as a Fashion Designer. From 2014 till 2019 (pre-COVID), I exhibited as a Wedding Photographer!
I have also obtained a Diploma in Wedding Planning in 2013 and I got to live out my personal fairy tale dream when I got married to Phillip Krüger on 1 January 2019.

One of my subjects at Elizabeth Galloway was Photography. In my third year, I also started a correspondence course in Journalism and Creative Writing. I received my certificate for this course in 2007.
In 2016 I published my first full length Afrikaans children’s book: “Operasie Gebakte Pere”. I am currently in the process of publishing another book with 20 short children’s stories: “Lugkasteel Kinderstories”. For this book, I photographed local children as illustrations for the book!
In 2018 I discovered scrapbooking. I am part of a few international Design Teams, where I have to create scrapbook layouts on a regular basis.

At what stage in your life did you decide to get into business

On 8 January 2011, I photographed my first wedding – as a favour for a friend. I fell in love with it and have been doing it ever since. I celebrated ten years in the industry this year! Since 2019, I am a full-time photographer!
I used to be a journalist. I used my entire first salary in September 2007 to buy myself a bridge camera. I upgraded to DSLR in 2012, after photographing two weddings with borrowed DSLR cameras. As from 2021, I upgraded to the new mirrorless camera technology, and I am loving it.

I finished the journalist chapter of my life in February 2017. Then I had my own Kalahari lifestyle magazine for about two years. I currently write for a free digital Afrikaans women’s magazine: “Wenke vir die Vrou”. I write the Photography, Wedding Planning and Scrapbooking articles as well as one Children’s Story per month. It is such an honour to be able to share my knowledge and experience through this medium.

What sets your business apart from other businesses in your industry?

I am one of very few, if any other, photographers in the region who has upgraded to the new mirrorless camera technology.
When you book me as the photographer for your wedding, you get so much more than just a photographer. I am a dreamer. Because I have a history in fashion design, knowledge of wedding planning and more than ten years of experience in the industry, I can dream with you, help you with the planning stage of your wedding and even help you lace up your wedding dress on the big day. I have even sewn back straps of a wedding dress!

At the end of the wedding, I copy all the digital photographs that I took during the day to an USB flash drive and give it to the couple before I leave. At photo shoots, I copy all the photographs to your phone! The reason I started doing this, was when my camera got stolen a few years back and I had to redo some photo shoots, but at least I did not lose somebody’s wedding photographs. The client’s copy acts as a back-up. It also eliminates the client’s waiting time completely.

What has been your driving force as an entrepreneur?

My passion for photography and weddings and my hunger to learn more and keep on improving my photography has been my driving force as an entrepreneur. And it has really led me to amazing places!

How did you come up with the name for your company? How easy or difficult was it?

It was a long process to find the perfect name. I just could not find the perfect word that I was looking for, but when I did, it was a real light bulb moment for me.
I always knew that the name had to be dreamy and that it should make you think of fairy tales. I have thought about it for a few years and kept a list of possible “Fairy tale” names. At times I would page through a dictionary or thesaurus looking for the perfect name.
I even have a Facebook memory from 2009 where I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions of a fairy tale name! At that stage the name was still for my Fashion Design business.

Originally just used my own name: “Hettie du Plessis Fotografie” as a business name.
In 2017 I finally stumbled across the perfect name: “Lugkasteel”, while paging through a dictionary again. It translates to sky castle, but the idiom in Afrikaans refers to a pipedream. In my mind it does not have any negative connotation, because my slogan is: “Make your fairy tale dreams come true!”
The new name really captures the essence of me, my business, and my photography style.

What kind of culture exists in your organisation, and how did you establish it?

I have a culture of attention to detail and spontaneous creativity. I cultivated it by trying to improve myself day by day and trusting my eye for photography.

What does your business do? What products or services do you offer?

I photograph weddings anywhere in South Africa.
We live on a beautiful farm 75km from Kathu (25km outside Kuruman – 15km is gravel road). I offer half price photo shoots for clients who drive to the farm.
I do photo shoots in the Kathu-region: Kuruman / Kathu / Deben / Olifantshoek / Postmasburg / Hotazel / Black Rock / Reivilo / Savannah / Daniëlskuil / Lime Acres.
At photo booths, photos can be printed immediately. For example, I had a Christmas photo booth in Kathu Village Mall with a Santa for a few years.
I have also travelled to Upington for matric farewell photographs this year.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your life?

Being an entrepreneur allows me to have more freedom in my day-to-day routine. I am more productive at night – so I do most of the editing at night. I do not have to ask permission to go somewhere, but the workload does play a role.

Would you change anything in terms of your journey in business?

I might have chosen to study Photography instead of Fashion Design after I finished school, but at that stage photography students still used film cameras. In the end I think my journey made me who I am today and changing it might not lead to the best outcome.

How do you manage the balance of being an entrepreneur?

I arrange the folders of photographs I still need to edit by week on my desktop and I have a large calendar on a white board to keep track of appointments and weddings.
My husband is also an entrepreneur, so he understands the lifestyle.

What motivates you every day?

It is such an honour to be part of the big moments in people’s lives – the weddings, engagements, pregnancies, christenings, matric farewells, birthdays, etc. – truly motivating in itself.
I also love listening to motivational webinars while editing photographs.

What is your vision in business?

My vision for my business and my photography is to produce photographs that each individual client can treasure for a lifetime to come.
My long-term dream is to travel the country, photographing weddings and to be able to tick off all nine provinces in the future.
My goal for 2022 is to photograph at least one wedding in July. I photographed weddings all 11 other months and COVID really messed up the July wedding I had booked this year. Look out for the competition where one July 2022 couple can win their wedding photography for free!

What is your mission?

To focus my energy on my photography and my photography business.
Staying up to date with camera technology and editing software.
Continuously doing courses on photography and editing.
Regularly updating my packages to give my client the best value for money.
Marketing on different platforms and identifying the most effective platforms.

What are your values in your business?

My value system in business is to treat each customer with respect and always deliver my very best service and products.

How do you define success in business?

I define success in my business by having a constant flow of happy clients.
There is nothing like seeing my photograph as somebody’s profile pic to make me feel fulfilled at the end of a workday.

Do you believe that entrepreneurs are born or made and why?

I believe entrepreneurs are born. Some children start selling anything they can find or make from a young age to satisfy their yearning for entrepreneurship. Other people are happy working for a company and earning a salary every month. Everybody has the responsibility to fulfil their own yearning and be successful.

What is your favorite thing you like about being an entrepreneur?

My favourite thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom of choosing my own work pace and hours.

What has been your greatest achievement in business?

Some of my greatest achievements as a photographer include:
Having two of my wedding photographs published in a full colour gloss coffee table book, “Kunsteboek” in September 2021!
Celebrating ten years in the industry in January 2021.

Winning the Ilda Forbes trophy for the Kuruman ACWW member with the highest achievement at the Circle Kalahari Conference in 2016 and 2018. And therefore, being named Kuruman ACWW’s Star Member for 2016.
Winning the Mimosa trophy for Best Achievement in Photography at the Circle Kalahari Conference in 2016 and 2018.
Winning the Pearson trophy for Photography at Kuruman’s ACWW branch in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Being the Overall Winner of ATKV Kathu branch’s Photography Competition in 2013 – the prize being a framed enlargement of my winning photograph and a week for 4 people in the ATKV resort of my choosing!
Being named Kathu Photography Club’s Photographer of the Year in 2009 and moving to 5-star status at the club in 2016.cx

Could you please give us links to your business?

For examples of my photography, please visit:

Are you an entrepreneur based in Kathu? Would you like to be interviewed? Get in touch with us at Kathu Biz.co.za

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