Owner of two high-end nightclubs Boipelo Khenisa (27) is seeing the ROI in this type of business

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Vogue Lounge owner Boipelo Khenisa says running a nightclub is a risky business and safety is of utmost importance.
Vogue Lounge owner Boipelo Khenisa says running a nightclub is a risky business and safety is of utmost importance.
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He is one of the youngest nightclub owners in the country.

At his newly opened Vogue Lounge in Rustenburg, he has hosted some of South Africa’s top acts such as Lerato Kganyago, DBN Gogo, DJ Speedsta, Milkshake, and Njelic to name a few. 

Businessman of Vogue Lounge in Rustenburg Boipelo Khenisa (27) says business runs in his blood and seeing how South Africans love the nightlife, a club was the best decision he has made. 

“Vogue Lounge is for the hard-working [person] who appreciates good food and a drink to unwind after a hard day's work,” he tells Drum. 

He was involved in every step of bringing Vogue to life. 

“I was involved in the décor, and how the establishment looked and the menu. I sat down with the chef to discuss what type of cuisine we would like to offer. I was highly immersed in it all.” 

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Born and raised in Tlhabane, Rustenburg, Boipelo studied Finance at The University of Pretoria and his honours at the University of Johannesburg before his master’s at Wits Business School.

He has always been business minded and he understood this at a young age. 

“It all started at a young age for me. When I was 13 years old in Grade seven, I won entrepreneur of the year at school and that’s where my arrogance to say that ‘I want to be my own boss’ and alleviate some of the problems we have in South Africa through entrepreneurship [started],” he says. 

Since then, he has worked at various family businesses to try and equip himself on how to run a business of his own in the future. 

“That's how my life has been. I haven’t had any hobbies like other kids my age, I found a deep love and passion for business from a young age and wanted to use that to alleviate poverty.” 

Before starting his businesses, Boipelo has never worked for anyone else besides his family. 

“I have never had any form of formal employment before any businesses that I have been involved in.”

Boipelo started his first business in 2018 – a cosmetics platform.  

“We would provide a platform for entrepreneurs to sell their cosmetics. Then I ventured into the bike delivery business in 2020.” 

At Vogue, he currently employs a staff of about 20 people. "Which includes the waiters, barman, kitchen and resident DJ as well as social media marketing team and designer,” he says. 

Boipelo says he plans to keep his business relevant and customers wanting more by being a quality provider. 

“The struggle to stay relevant is difficult in South Africa but for me (what is) most important is how we want to establish ourselves. We want to present quality food from the chef to the barman and everything that we give out. Even if it’s a classic cocktail, we want to give out the best and that is how we plan to stay relevant.”

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With his love for business, he could have opened any kind of establishment, but he chose the nightclubs because it made business sense and South Africans love to have a good time. 

“I have learned a lot in the hospitality business, and I understand the financial aspect of it and how it makes business sense and that’s all because of my financial education and background. There is a market to serve, and I believe I can," he says. 

“The nightlife comes with high risk and high reward,” he says. 

“You go all-in, taking constant risks by booking artists and trying to get the correct hosts and promoters, but when it does pay off it pays off nicely and big. It’s always been interesting from a finance perspective, especially with money as my product, watching the growth and strategies coming into effect. But it can also be detrimental to your mental health as the hours are long and strenuous. It’s a double-edged sword.” 

Besides Vogue in Rustenburg, he also owns Cohiba bar in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. 

“Cohibar is more of a cigar lounge and supper club, that’s how it differs from Vogue. We have food, cigars, and hubbly and provide a lifestyle for people to enjoy themselves and take a break from a stressful life.”

While Boipelo is passionate about the nightlife business, he admits it comes with its challenges. 

“The seasonality of the business is a challenge. People get excited and then get over things easily. Especially since the pandemic, people get bored easily. They are always looking to try something new. The hospitality industry also has long, and demanding hours and you need to be friendly and a people person,” he says. 

Boipelo says having to travel between two different cities can be tiring. 

“Working between Joburg and Rustenburg can be difficult and strenuous. Work and travel extremely long hours and meeting new people that you have to interact with even on a bad day can take a lot from you.” 

He says that running a hospitality business can also be dangerous. 

“There is a lot of competition and that breeds a lot of contempt. I’ve heard of owners being kidnapped or killed and shot at. For me, the biggest danger is safety is a big concern, with the high crime rate,” he says. 

“People tend to assume that you are doing very well and are rich when you are running an establishment and that is untrue. As the owner you eat last and make sure everyone is fed before you,” he says.

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