With more than a decade of television experience across three continents, Shahan Ramkissoon has steadily built himself a credible media career, and recently lauched and co-founded feel South Africa, a multimedia online platform, telling positive stories. But the project that has him excited, is his very own alcoholic beverage – Lenyora Gin!
Who would you list as role-models that helped guide you on your life path?
Definitely my parents. My mom was a news ‘junkie’. She subscribed to every newspaper and watched TV news every night, which is how I fell in love with journalism. It has the power of accountability to protect our democracy and our people.
My dad is a businessman. He always preached the importance of being your own boss so that no-one else has the power to determine your professional future.
Was there a defining moment in your life that put you on your career path?
I started writing for the Young Daily News in Durban at the age of 14. I felt I needed to expose my school for withholding report cards of poor students who couldn’t afford their fees, so I wrote about it in the provincial newspaper.
It led to the education department acting against school officials and that’s when I realised the power of journalism. Since then, I’ve been motivated to bring about change through the stories I tell.
What drives you?
In journalism, I’m driven by the fact that I have a responsibility to do something to protect our democracy. We’re a nation that has a lot to be proud of, but we can’t let leaders loot and destroy what our struggle icons worked so hard for.
THIS IS ME MERGING MY PASSION FOR JOURNALISM AND FINDING MYSELF AS A BUSINESSMAN.
In business, the challenge of setting myself goals drives me. I always want to be the best at any job. I am a firm believer in working hard to get results. If we don’t set goals for ourselves, how do we measure success?
What is your motto with regards to defining and achieving success?
This is simple; success is measured on you achieving the goals you set yourself. It can be something personal, big or small. No achievement should go by unnoticed. My goal might look like nothing to someone else, but to me it’s a celebration.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement thus far?
It definitely has to be co-owning a business which tells good news stories about South Africa. This is me merging my passion for journalism and finding myself as a businessman. It’s helped me grow dramatically in the past year. While this is unfolding, I also now have my own TV show in which I’m the host and executive producer. It’s really just me, uncensored and real. It’s hard-hitting and fun, two of my traits combined in one show. The Last Word with Shahan Ramkissoon airs on eNCA and eTV.
What was the rationale for launching Feel SA, and what do you hope to accomplish with this platform?
I spent most of my time as a journalist targeting dodgy politicians and focusing on bad news, because it’s very necessary and relevant to our reality. Our country has a bad reputation and I wanted to show the world that despite all the negative things happening, we have a lot of good people and things to celebrate in South Africa.
We are a resilient nation, filled with people who defy the odds to overcome their difficult circumstances. We have kind individuals who go out of their way to help others. Feel SA was established to offer a balance to the news. We wanted to highlight the good and it’s incredible to tell stories about the indomitable human spirit, something this country should be proud about.
In your opinion, what are the top five perks of living in South Africa?
1. Our cultural diversity.
2. Our food!
3. Our beautiful cities, beaches, and mountains.
4. Our music .
5. Our humour during difficult times.
Tell us a bit about Lenyora Gin. What prompted you to establish a gin brand?
I was asked to help promote a local gin once and the penny dropped for me at that point. I didn’t just always want to be an ambassador for other brands, I wanted one of my own. So I decided to invest and asked the manufacturer to produce a handcrafted gin to my taste.
What differentiates your gin brand from others and how does it capture your personal essence?
It was a year-and-a-half of back and forth with different flavours and tastings. I wanted it to be perfect and eventually I fell in love with the Vanilla and Elderflower gin we created.
I then asked them to remove the bitter aftertaste I dislike in most gins and boom; the perfect blend was created. I’m also a perfectionist and like nice things so I insisted on a premium alcohol because we all know the cheap stuff gives us a hangover.
What is something your audience would be surprised to find out about you?
I love amapiano and my friends say I can actually dance!
What are some of your future plans?
I’ve been accepted to do my Executive MBA at UCT. It’s rated the best in Africa and features in the top 50 in the world.
So, I restart my learning process next year and know that once I’m done, I’ll be able to do so much more, both locally and abroad.
Fashion forward with Shahan
- What is your relationship with fashion and grooming? I believe I have zero fashion sense; despite that I’m told otherwise by some. I’m that guy who wears jeans and a T-shirt whenever I get the chance. If I have to dress up for an event, I will, but deep inside I prefer a laid back look and approach to fashion. I do love grooming though. I get my hair and beard done weekly, and nails and facials once a month. Oh, and I have a pretty intense skincare routine.
- How would you describe your fashion sense? I’m safe. I stay away from bright colours and print. My only daring shirt that I own is Maxhosa.
- What is a must-have fashion accessory every man should have? Good cologne! Come on gents, you can’t go around smelling like yesterday! I prefer subtle Oudh scents.
- Talk to us about the hair – it is always immaculate. How do you accomplish this? With years and years of practice! It’s honestly a lot of work. Weekly cuts and daily struggles with my hair drying it to perfection and then styling it with hairspray. I reckon I should cut it off soon, it’s been 14 years!
- What are the top three style tips to always look on fleek? Keep it tailored. Keep it clean. And ooze confidence.
- A perfect day in the life of Shahan Ramkissoon: A good gym session, brunch, the beach and bar hopping (basically me on holiday).
- Favourite city or town in South Africa: Cape Town. I love it so much here! The beauty of Cape Town calms me and makes me smile.
- Favourite activity or hobby: Walks on the promenade.
- Favourite food: Anything my mum cooks.
- Guilty pleasure: Bread!