South African model Katryn Kruger was discovered at age 16 in a Cape Town mall and from then on, her life changed. She has walked the runway for Elie Saab, Givenchy and Calvin Klein, and has appeared in campaigns for fashion houses Oscar de la Renta and Dior.
In addition to her modelling, Katryn is a motivational speaker and she started Koffie Met Katryn, a meet-up for women where they can chat in an open and welcoming space about various topics such as anxiety and self-doubt, and inspire and motivate each other.
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It was an honour to work with the incredible @gavinoneillphoto in NYC two years ago. And when I look at this portrait he took of me, I realised I look like a grownup … I’m no longer the unsure 16 year old who took on the modeling industry without knowing what to expect. No, instead I’ve grown into a woman who kept going when the going got tough and who fought (with a lot of tears) to remain true to herself. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t glamorous. But it was SO worth it! . ??? I’m so excited to share my story and more with the ladies joining me at Koffie Met Katryn this Saturday! #KMK
Katryn chatted to COSMO about her journey, her experience in the modelling industry and why she felt inspired to start Koffie Met Katryn:
How did it feel to be ‘discovered’ at such a young age?
It was quite overwhelming… I never thought about becoming a model, never mind at such a young age. It was very exciting, but I didn’t take it too seriously until I got asked to go see an agency in Paris. It all skyrocketed from there and before I could come to terms with it all, I was walking the biggest runways in the world.
I was working with the biggest names in fashion and travelled all over the world by myself, so I had to grow up quickly. Suddenly I wasn’t stressing about the things a ‘normal’ teenager would, like the school dance. I had to worry about catching flights, paying tax, doing my own laundry in a hotel bathroom, hoping there will be a driver to pick me up from my shoot, etc.
It was tough being so young in an industry I knew nothing about. But in a way my naivety kept me grounded – I wasn’t impressed or intimidated working with famous photographers, stylists, designers or other models.
What do you think is the most important lesson you learnt while modelling?
To always be true to yourself. You cannot please everyone, so there’s no need to change your beliefs, values or the way you look just to fit in.
For example, when I became completely burnt from work and travelling, I came back to Cape Town and took some time off to just recuperate. In that time I had one or two big work offers overseas, but I decided that my health was more important… I stayed true to myself, knew what I needed, and therefore I did what was right for me in spite of what my agents told me.
What was the most challenging part of being a young person in such a competitive industry?
The loneliness and homesickness really got to me. I lost almost all my friends from school because our worlds were just too different. I did make good friends in the industry, but we were all so busy that we didn’t see each other too often. I travelled and worked so much that half the time I was on an airplane or in a hotel room by myself, missing my home and my family.
If you could do it all again, is there anything you would change?
I often think about this and for a long time, I wondered if I made the right decision. As I grow older I realise that yes, I did make the right decision and that it all happened for a reason. Leaving school and home at a young age, even the tears of homesickness and doubt, the many (and I do mean many) hours on long flights, shoots in extreme weather and rude agents… All those experiences, good and bad, shaped me to be the woman I am today. So no, I would not change anything. I learned so much in the industry and in my career – it has given me a platform to grow and for that, I will always be grateful.
What is your favourite place that you’ve travelled to?
I absolutely adore New York! It is a bit of a cliché, but it is an amazing city with so much to offer. But regarding more exotic places, I loved shooting in Mallorca, Spain as well as Parios, Greece. My husband and I also travelled through Morocco last year and that was a truly special experience.
Which countries would you still like to visit?
I would love to tour Italy as well as the Greek islands. And I hope to visit these places with my husband soon!
What dreams would you still like to achieve?
I would love to inspire young women with my story and share the knowledge I have gained over the years – from life lessons to how to walk into a room with confidence even if you have none. I hope to do so through my passion project, Koffie Met Katryn.
And one day I would love to start a family (but that will only be in a few years – for now, the hubby and I are loving married life and raising our two pups).
What inspired you to start Koffie Met Katryn?
I realised I had a unique story to share and through that story, I can also share some valuable life lessons I have learnt over the years.
I also realised that through my social media I have the platform I needed to get women together so we can inspire, motivate and support one another. That is exactly what Koffie Met Katryn offers – a place for women to meet other women with whom we get to share our stories and struggles with.
So it is not just me who shares my story – I also give other women the chance to tell theirs. The incredible thing is that every time we are a group of strangers who start connecting, and we soon realise we all laugh and cry about the same things.
For me, it is a truly humbling experience that women want to listen to me, but also for me to get to hear what they say. And to see how magical it is when women get together to inspire and support one another.
What do you aim to achieve with Koffie Met Katryn?
I wish to grow this project so that I can inspire more women and offer an even bigger platform for women to inspire and support each other.
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KOFFIE MET KATRYN . Dis tyd vir die Julie #KMK en ek is opgewonde om te deel dat hierdie keer kuier ons by die pragtige @venuedaria ! . Dit gaan weer ‘n baie spesiale oggend wees – ek deel my lewensverhaal en stories uit die mode-industrie, asook die lewenslesse wat ek oor die jare geleer het en daagliks toepas in my lewe. Daarna gesels ons vrouens saam oor onderwerpe wat ons almal raak. . Die hoop is dat ons MEKAAR inspireer en ondersteun!. . Heerlike kos, en natuurlik koffie, gaan bedien word en daar gaan een of twee verrassings wees ? . 10% van elke kaartjie wat verkoop word gaan na die Kenzie & Toto Fund, en daardie geld word dan aan diereskuilings geskenk. . Bespreek jou plek nou! Stuur ‘n epos na firstname.lastname@example.org . . Vir meer inligting, gaan na my IG STORIES of KMK HIGHLIGHTS op my profile ? . Hoop om julle daar te sien! #vrouoggend #inspirasie
The next Koffie Met Katryn will take place on 27 July 2019 at D’Aria Wine Estate. Tickets can be bought directly from Katryn by e-mailing email@example.com.
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