- Who are you, where do you come from and what do you do?
Well this would’ve been simple earlier in my life before all these million worldviews, I now have to sieve through. The shortest response would be, I’m a God fearing young man, raised by the sweat and prayers of a single mother. As for where I come from I can’t pin point a singular place because we’ve moved around in an effort to evade domestic violence and thus becomes safe to say home is where I have chosen to establish my roots in; which would be Cape town at the moment and this might change any time from now. What do I do, well I’m currently trying to chase a million and help those who think I’m relevant enough along the way. I’m an IT administrator and a part time entrepreneur despite the misuse of that word in today’s rhetoric.
- Can you describe the kind of person you are?
Well this seems easy, I would like to think that I’m an introvert. Earlier in my childhood, my mother had to run away from an abusive relationship, leaving me and 2 of my sisters in the capable hands of an alcoholic father, who was absent 90% of the time. I grew up quickly and became a loner and self-dependent. I know what it means to have your friends tell you that their parents told them not to play with your because if they do, you will most likely end up at their house for dinner and they couldn’t afford your share because you been eating there for the past few months. So in short, I’m the kind of person who tries to help because I know what it is like to be without or be sidelined because of where you come from.
- How did you start your business – what drove you to want to start a business?
There was no profound idea nor did I get a bright idea whilst sleeping neither was it a dream. I just wanted a medium to communicate through and I seemed to open up or find a voice through writing and what better way to communicate my thoughts than to use a T Shirt as a canvas. Believe it or not, I initially wanted to call the brand Grab Da Afro, something that celebrated being African and Native but figured it would be difficult to sell to everyone.
Then later a friend of mine called Farai was leaving SA for Zimbabwe and decided to print a few tees in memory of him and his blog. Then everything started to connect as I taped into the native use of the slang word MOS and everything grew a step at a time. As to how it started, well it started with a R2000 investment from my salary, a bike motorbike sale and assistance from friends and family and finally a loan from the bank. Funny part is that I recently finished paying off that loan a week ago.
- In a new age, where the youth is obsessed with instant gratification and looking successful, can you break down the hustling part of what you do? How difficult is it? What are the falls? How do you rise from them?
The definition of success changes from one person to the next. I remember the first time I moved to a town and wondered how town kids managed to study with the sound of cars buzzing around them, since in my early childhood you rarely saw a car and whenever you saw one, you marvelled at the sight and then, having a car was success; well at least in my eyes. So I guess I don’t believe I’m successful yet and I’m still working towards it and thus do not really have the time to chase after these other things. At some point I thought a degree was success, then I thought a house and a car was it too but seems with each level I reach, the definition changes. I like to believe that each person has their own definition, to some, being able to afford expensive alcohol, date the famous yellow bone, and afford any other gratifying thing is success and thus becomes their drive.
The hustling part has become routine. It’s become a way of life. I have a 9 -5 day job and the clothing brand after. I also have a daughter and a young lady I would like to settle down with later on but frankly too broke to afford them, the fine things I want, so putting in work becomes the only move or drive. I’m either at work, driving around to deliver people’s orders or reading up on the next trend if not searching for the next swag. With the internet at out finger tips, research is made easy and I often think that our problem as the youth is access and if we all spend more of our time researching than pulling each other down, we would all create our own luck. The main problem is funding and assumptions.
People assume that, just because your friends liked an idea, it means they will religiously support it but this is not true. Facebook likes have become a habit and people sometimes like the girl in the photo versus the funky t-shirt she’s wearing and we often realize this when we are knee deep in debt. Your biggest pool for funds is extra income however you get it, be it from family or friends that believe in your hustle plus a great concept. I’ve had to play around with my salary a lot. Sometimes I had to deliberately miss certain debt order commitments just to ensure that the company kept moving and didn’t shut down. Endless calls with call centre agencies became the norm but fortunately friends and family came through. I took in a friend who designed websites and did graphic designs and a brother who had won R21K via the lotto and we basically combined efforts and hustled; whatever that means. There is no secret formula but merely a step at a time and trusting and believing that your efforts will pay off. I’ve slept on the couch in my own house because I want renting the rooms to generate income. You have to sacrifice and keep moving.
- Your style seems very cosmopolitan, contemporary and fresh – how would you personally describe your brand?
MOS, is trendy self-expression at best. Unlike the well-known brands, we rarely follow the known rules of fashion regarding collections and seasons. It’s really what you need when you need it in an effort to enable our clients to wear their thoughts and create their own moving canvas or style. We neither fall here or there which is what makes us unique.
- Why the word, “MOS”?
It’s really catchy and part of our everyday communication. I doubt that a day passes by without that word being used in a sentence, within the South African context. Its slang and adds emphasis to whatever is being communicated and transcends age groups; which is the kind of effect I wanted the brand to have. It also reminds me of the friend who opened my mind to a different world view via his blog.
- How important do you think entrepreneurship & the prospect of Africans building Empires is in Africa, and why?
A lot of people are unaware of the term ‘Diploma disease’’ and once one begins to acknowledge its meaning, they will soon realize the importance of creating jobs versus looking for jobs. I have two degrees, A BA in human and social Studies and an Honors degree in Development studies both acquired whilst working and studying but in an IT job because I love to learn. It’s a catch 22, becuase you need money to start something and unless you have rich relatives, you will need a job to finance any idea. The black African child is really at a disadvantage because opportunities are often a result of access to resources whilst access is currently our biggest challenge. The spirit of Ubuntu has become black people tax. A little income being shared amongst a large pool of relatives who are often stuck in the poverty deprivation trap. Entrepreneurship has become a way of survival versus something people do because they are motivated by an inner desire or in an effort to create jobs. Proponents of development, who I agree with, seem to argue that sustainable development requires the participation of the beneficiaries of such development and it thus becomes apparent that in order for Africa to develop sustainably, Africans will have to develop it
- You will have succeeded in your business when . . .
I am able to employ other people and have them support their families through the fruits of the business or when I am able to build preschools within the hood via the donations of the business and mentor other people on how to start and run successful businesses.
- Besides MOS, what’s your favourite clothing label right now, and why?
Yeezy, it’s really simple and challenges the rules of fashion; nothing to write home about yet people seem to line up for his products. They have a somewhat religious following and I admire that. I’m a fan of Kanye, and I remember bumping Jesus walks on my way to my first UNISA exam and I have been following his thought process since then.
- What’s on the pipeline for your business? Where to now? What’s next?
More volume on the street and corporate partnerships. I’m a huge fan of music and there is so many talented artist I get to meet and would love to help, so a record label is an idea; whether it materializes or not, is a story for another day. Trying to open up shop in other countries with in Southern Africa but timing is key plus still debating on whether to leave my 9 – 5 and focus solely on this or partner with people from these countries and trust them to push things passionately, I guess time will tell.