Natalie Keegan is an experienced public relations and communications professional with more than 25 years in the corporate space. In January 2021 Natalie redirected her career and says that she can now proudly say that she is a businesswoman. This move is has seen her partner with Everest Strategic Communications KwaZulu-Natal and BKT Logistics.
A HUGE ACHIEVEMENT
Natalie has a healthy reputation and contact base in the northern KwaZulu-Natal area which has enabled her to assist the founder and CEO of Everest Strategic Communications, Zama Luthuli, to be onboarded as a service provider at several corporates in the Richards Bay area. Everest Strategic Communications is 100% black woman owned PR and communications company for which Natalie consults as regional director KwaZulu-Natal.
“Importantly,” says Natalie, “I would like to thank Zama for offering me the opportunity to partner with her in KwaZulu-Natal. It is a huge achievement to be able to quote and tender on jobs at these large corporates within our first six months of opening a branch in KwaZulu-Natal.”
Throughout her career and now as an entrepreneur, Natalie’s community involvement has been and is to uplift and empower the youth and elderly. Natalie was a committee member and later voted in as the chairperson of Empangeni Child and Family Care for several years. “I decided I could do more and be involved in more projects in my personal capacity, which is what I have continued to do throughout Covid and currently. In the past I wanted to help as many families as I could, but I now focus on helping one needy family at a time.”
Last December Natalie assisted a family with electricity in their home and for 2022 she has assisted with monthly groceries to support one family of six and she will continue to do so until they are in a better position financially. In addition, Natalie has been a board director of the Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as Uthungulu Community Foundation for the past five years.
FELT A CONNECTION
Speaking of people who inspire her, Natalie says that Carina Smith-Allin (Mint PR), although she had never met her personally but followed on LinkedIn was someone whom she admired. “I felt a connection to her through what she shared in the public domain and when I was at my lowest, I reached out to her and asked her if she would be prepared to have a virtual meeting with me… She did and her perspective around the challenges I was facing put my journey back on track. It says a great deal about her willingness to engage with a stranger although we are in the same line of work. I continue to follow her and watch her grow in business.”
Natalie’s mother passed away when she was seven and she was raised by her father and her “gogo” - Busisiwe Mthembu who she loved dearly. Natalie commented, “She taught me to love and be kind to people from all walks of life. She took care of me for many years, and I returned this love until she passed away in 2018.”
Her sister, Sylvia Cozens, also played a role in raising Natalie after her mother passed away. “She has stood by me when I had my boys and through my challenges and is the person who constantly reminds me that I can be successful. I am that strong, capable woman and I will be successful.”
PATIENCE AND RESILIENCE
Natalie has been faced with daily challenges in her new world of business, but she says patience and resilience are what it has taken for her to move forward and get her foot in the door. She explains, “I fortunately did not burn any bridges over my 25-year career, and this has been my strength in 2022.”
“I have strong relationships with business and industry leaders who have given me guidance and support which in turn has given me the confidence to stay strong, patient and believe in my capabilities to be successful in business. We all want to find that stability and pay cheque from the word go, but it doesn’t come that easy.”
Natalie’s goals are to champion the way women and business can transform the communications industry and society at large. She believes that she has a part to play in this process.
“Influence is dynamic, so I believe it is imperative that I collaborate and partner with leaders within the PR and communication industry. I would like to be that person that gives other women the strength to believe that anything is possible if you keep trying. Giving up should never be considered.”
In addition, Natalie intends to build and nurture current and future relationships with industry professionals that have made a success of their careers and businesses.
GRAB THOSE OPPORTUNITIES
Speaking of advice she would give to young women following in her footsteps Natalie says that it is important to ensure that you have financial stability when starting your business. She added, “The first year is tough while you build your reputation and client base. Start a business you are passionate about and have researched. Don’t make hasty decisions…do your homework thoroughly. You must also grab those opportunities put in your path.”
When not working on her business, gardening is Natalie’s go-to when she needs to unwind. She concluded, “Roses are my absolute favourite. I have recently moved into a new forever home with an established garden full of arum lilies and rose bushes.”