Dr. Catherine Masitsa juggles several hats so graciously and with excellence. She boasts of achievements in veterinary science, entrepreneurship, real estate, publishing, and most recently Reality TV as she joined the Showmax’s Real Housewives of Nairobi cast.
Despite her several successes, the mother of one is mostly famed for her wedding media company Samantha Bridal. Popularly known as Dr. C., Catherine Masitsa describes herself as formidable and a tastemaker. She sat down with me to share her journey from her days as a little girl with dreams playing in Kakamega Forest to being a successful business mogul with interests in multiple sectors.
You have described yourself as very formidable. How has it been interacting with the other housewives so far?
It’s been exciting seeing how strong the other women are. When I say I am formidable, I’m describing the kind of woman I am at this stage in my life. I am not a pushover, I don’t go with the clique or try to fit in.
What was your childhood like?
I’m a village girl who grew up in western Kenya, [Laughing] running around Kakamega Forest. I was brought up by my father and my personality is strong because of that. I had a happy childhood. Going to school, I discovered that I had many talents as I am very creative. Human beings are so multifaceted.
As a child, I found myself gravitating toward animals hence my veterinary career. But as I got older, I became more realistic about financial independence, so I began looking for a business to do. Right now, I am focused on my wine business.
Was being in this reality show part of your dream as a child or is it something that just happened?
Reality shows just started the other day. I’m a producer myself, I produce reality shows, and being on this show is more a reflection of my mindset.
Can we talk about your recently launched wine business?
The wine is produced in Valencia Spain. I wouldn’t say that this business is new, it is an extension of the Samantha Brand. We were quite intentional about it, and there are more things we are planning to roll out. I have a lot of consultants who are helping me as nothing prepares you for the alcohol business in Kenya. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it’s very exciting and has given me new energy.
Our clients are very happy to see the brand growing and we feel encouraged. Seeing them vote for our brand with their money is proof that we are doing things right.
You could have chosen something else. Why wine?
Our mission as a brand is to connect people and cultures by helping them navigate and celebrate life’s greatest moments. It could be a proposal, a new job, a wedding, etc. Such moments are very toasty and having been in the hospitality business, I have developed a deep understanding of fine wine.
So, for us, it was such a natural progression as wine brings people together. It made so much sense that even though we have other products coming, such as fragrance, we are still inspired by those picture-perfect moments.
Why did you get on the Real Housewives of Nairobi Show?
I got on it because it is an international franchise. I’ve seen how the women on other Real Housewives shows have grown. This is not just about women dressing up, and drama, it is also about growth for the cast. After seeing how the world is changing, I realized that you don’t have to be in people’s faces with generic eyes.
Right now, many celebrities are growing their brands and when the opportunity came, I jumped on it. I didn’t even think twice. I’m telling you; I didn’t even read the contract; I just signed it. So far, I can tell you that my instincts were right. I’ve been on the show for a few episodes now and my wine is already running out on shelves. It’s been an amazing platform to launch my brand and let my fans see who I am.
You have really guarded about your personal life over the years, what prompted you to showcase that other side on this reality show?
In the past, I guarded my personal life, not because I really wanted to but because I felt the need to grow the brand. I was very aware of what the Samantha bridal brand presented to women – a lifestyle that lot of women were really excited about.
So, I put the brand on the pedestal. Over the years, the brand has changed from weddings to fairs to shows, etc. At the end of the day, the brand always breaks free. You can always reinvent when you have built a brand.
If today I come up with a brand, people will buy. Right now, if I have put Dr. Catherine Masitsa out there. It doesn’t matter because I’m aware that people buy me. I also want to inspire people to see that there’s someone behind a growing brand. People buy people.
Did you ever get, uncomfortable having the cameras around all the time?
No. In fact, I think I was meant for the cameras. I was at the biggest party of my life. I produce shows, and therefore I wasn’t uncomfortable at all with the cameras. There are even points when I would forget that the cameras were there.
Out of the episodes that have aired so far, which one would you say is your favorite and why?
Every episode is different. I think I’m more interested to know what the audience has got to say. Sometimes, as the women on the show, we are not aware of how we are landing on other people. So, when the show is edited and you see how others thought of you, it’s a totally different dynamic.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from the entire RHON experience?
Rather, what has been reinforced are two things: It is so important to be yourself. Obviously, be emotionally intelligent because we live in a community.
Most importantly: Don’t care what other people think because people have opinions. Don’t try to be a version of what other people think you should be, and don’t let anybody diminish who you are. It sounds like a cliché, but until you’re in some of those situations and you have to bring the truest expression of yourself, is when you really will understand what I mean.
What message do you hope that Real Housewives of Nairobi can help you put across?
I hope this show, will change the narrative about the Kenyan woman. I am particularly big on showing that we have Kenyan women changing things.
You have managed to run a business while still showcasing your creativity and your colorful self. How have you been able to find a balance?
A lot of people don’t know that I’m a rural development expert, or that I was on the team that privatized the veterinary industry in this country. When I worked for the European Union, I was in charge of fisheries and research. I did a lot of high-profile projects. That taught me to walk into any office. I can meet any president and have a conversation. It balances me in the sense that I’m able to achieve anything.
I also that think having a good partner helps. My husband is the perfect partner, we really understand each other. As a businesswoman, and mother, I don’t want to lie to any woman. Sometimes when you’re doing something, there’s something else happening. So, there’s nothing like a perfect balance, you have to make a peace. For instance, every school Tuesday I attend my daughter’s school events without fail. You have to be intentional, that’s what I’m saying.
Your bald look is very distinctive. Is it symbolic of anything? What are your thoughts on hair, especially for African women?
I started losing my hair in the late 90s, then my husband encouraged me to cut off my hair. Actually, he is the one who cut it. I remember when I went to the street, I had to really gather all the energy that I had to convince myself that I really liked how I looked.
At the time, that was an uncommon hairstyle so I got a lot of stares so I really had to be strong. Over time I have realized that this kind of hairdo is beautiful. I have received a lot of compliments that really encouraged me. Not just here, even wherever I traveled around the world,
I feel this is such a signature look. When you see me, you know I was here. I am the kind of person who wants to remember that Catherine was here. It is iconic of the kind of person I have and the legacy I want to live. The bold look gives me confidence. I think people should be allowed to be who they want to be.
What is that one thing that many people don’t know about you?
That Dr. Catherine Masitsa is actually an introvert. When I have had a really busy week, and met so many people, I need one day when I can just be alone.
Being introverted is all about energy. I find that I feel drained by people. Afterward, my energy goes down and I need to go back to retreat to my little corner and get back the energy to go back.
My mantras change over time. Currently, it is; success is my birthright. I don’t believe God created me to do anything that I am not good at.
Photo Credits: Leon/Drift Photography