By Robert K James
When Apple introduced the first iPhone on 29th June 2007, it was the ultimate game changer for smartphones; the bar had really been set high for the rest of world. Other mobile phone making companies had been compelled into playing the chasing game. Likewise, the introduction/formation or birth of Plan It With Keine could be the game changer as far as the ushering business goes in the Pearl of Africa. But who is the brain behind Plan It With Keine? It’s Brenda Keijagye.
Who is Brenda Keijagye?
Brenda is a mother of two; some who likes to think out of the box and most importantly never gives up. She is somebody with a goal. “What goal is that if I may ask?” A goal to run my own venture.
Despite having a number of prominent persons at her disposal, one being her own sister Barbie Kyagulayi, Brenda “wants to build her own brand and personality” without so much as an attachment or having to ride on any of these people’s success.
So, among all things in the events industry, why venture into ushering?
The ushering business!!! I want to give it a new face. I want to give it a new touch. I have done this before. About seven years ago, I was into the ushering business but there was a monotony of ushering. There was nothing real. Everybody was doing the same things. It was a bit boring.
Speak of putting a new face to the ushering business, as far as first impressions go, I think she is already making strides in the right direction. But maybe as a guy, one would think my judgement or opinion is somehow partial, but, take a look for yourself at some of the members of her team and be the judge. To me, this is the A-game.
Where you doing it for another company or it was your own company?
It was my own company but I had to give it a break because my other personal life had become so demanding. Between being a newlywed and later on a new mother, it’s sufficiently justifiable that one drop off a few things on their list of responsibilities to concentrate on the biggest priorities at the time.
How do you plan on balancing this new venture and your other work or personal responsibilities?
I have a team with me. This team, I have given them roles. I’m basically supervising the business because I alone cannot do the bookings, receive all the calls etc. when I have an 8am-5pm job. So I have given out these roles to different people who then report to me and what I do is manage.
So you’re not part of the team that really does the work? I mean the ushering
I am part of the team. I head the team. I have to be hands on if I have an event. Usually, events are during weekends. I interject; “some corporate events are during weekdays.” She quickly responds, saying that “most of these especially cocktails and some product or service launches are after five (after working hours) which I can manage.” For those that happen during working hours, you know am entitled to leave and days off, she notes in an exclamatory manner.
Besides, I have empowered my team well enough, given them the necessary skills and information so they can be able to get the job done even when I’m not around.
Speaking of empowering people, I find it very common that; you find people representing a certain business or company but really don’t have the authority to make decisions that are required to take a certain step or direction, especially regarding urgent matters.
That’s where most of us have gone wrong today. If you give your team the power to make decisions, just tell them don’t go below this, don’t go above this; this is allowed and this isn’t in case they can’t get hold of you.
In this particular line of work, who is your next of kin? The go-to person in case you’re not available.
I have someone called Kyamagero Andrew who works with 100.2 Galaxy FM. He is our creative director.
I have seen a few photos of your team and they are only ladies, what is wrong with us the guys?
Ahhhh…The pictures you saw were from our photo shoot. They were only ladies because it was easy for me to get a hold of them as quickly as I could get them than the gentlemen. But usually when am engaging the client; I always ask them whether they want ladies and gentlemen or only ladies depending. So it is your call as a client.
I actually find it very easy to work with guys because they are handy, they keep time, they know what you want. So if you gave me to choose between ladies and guys, I would choose the guys.
And why not the ladies?
The ladies are good for their role as ladies; you know, to look nice, to make sure you feel comfortable whereas they may not be as hands-on as the guys.
What criteria do you go through when recruiting?
I prefer a particular size of ladies because it makes it easy for me to get outfits for them. Sizes from 8 to 12 are the ones I work with. So I design clothes between those sizes and anything below or above that becomes hard for me. Are you a fashion designer!!! Yes, I design my own clothes and then someone else tailors them. Do you do that also for the gents? Yes, I do; but for sizes between 28 and 30.
How do you manage the clothing changes with the different events and clients? How do you keep up with all those demands?
Usually, we hire these clothes because we can’t have a closet of thousands of outfits. I have some that I have made for my own that we use in case a client asks for those particular attires.
Judging from the photos I have seen, all you ushers are beautiful, was that a qualification for joining?
Nooo….her lips part in a jovial smile. It was not. Why do you disregard it!!! Noo…I love a good presentation but you see “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” she quotes.
Are your ushers available for cultural events like introductions/kuhingira/giveaway?
Yes, we are an events company so we do all sorts of events. But it’s not only ushering services that we offer. We also plan, organise and execute all sorts of event.
Why do you think someone with an event would really need ushers? Normally people choose to assign these ushering roles to friends or close relatives.
You see we have to look beyond. Times have changed. Gone are the days. Things have changed and we must accept that. We can’t keep on doing things traditionally like we used to live. People want to attend an event, take a drink and be able to enjoy themselves not being up and down. For example, it’s your sister’s wedding and you’re up and down, trying to keep your shoes intact, sweating and your hair is falling. You need ushers to do what they do.
Having been there seven years ago, what do you think about Uganda’s events industry?
I must say it has changed a great deal. The last time I was there and what I see today are two different things. It’s much better than it was then. People are very creative these days. Sometimes I look at some of my pictures with my ushers from those years and am like “REALLY!!!”
What do you think about Mikolo? Is it new to you?
No…it’s not new to me. I have heard of Mikolo before. Before I rolled out my service, I carried out some research about platforms that can promote my service and give me mileage and all that, what I can do…blah…blah…and Mikolo kept on coming up. It was actually recommended.
Would you recommend someone to join the Mikolo platform? A service provider or vendor in the events industry
Yeah…I definitely would.