It seemed like a great idea at the start. This was before the endless phone calls to “people who know people”, a bit of what some might call stalking, and gruelling boardroom battles over who should be on “the list”.
Finally, with few casualties, we’ve reached a conclusion. If you’re mad you didn’t make the list, realise that the criteria were stiff. Just to be considered, candidates had to be aged twenty-five or under, have shown tangible progress in whatever enterprise they are pursuing (selling marbles to your neighbour doesn’t count), and, as Abel put it, “have an umph/sparkle/x-factor”. Though the sheer brilliance and achievement of everyone on our list caused us to ask ourselves “what am I doing?”, the top three really made us question our purpose in life. Meet our top 3 young people to watch.
Thoki Tafeni: Designer
This fashion-graduate’s collection filled with edgy designs and contours, soft and humble earth-tones and a subtle flare for the dramatic won her the AFI Fast Track in Africa Fashion Week 2011, a competition showcasing the work of talented, emerging designers. Having conquered the runway, Thoki is also currently head stylist for People Magazine and fashion assistant at Kick Off.
What was your childhood like?
I was adopted at a young age… my childhood was very easy-going. I went to Camps Bay Primary School and then Westerford. I studied arts throughout; that was my absolute passion. I love anything creative.
Tell us about how you got involved with fashion?
I started making little clothes for my Barbie when I was younger, got a sewing machine in grade ten. I started making little tops and stuff, and didn’t know I wanted to study fashion until a month or so before college. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What are some of the biggest challenges of being a young designer?
Being able to create something that is unique that nobody else has done. If you look at our industry, every second person is a designer. The people that are successful are the ones who spend day and night and just keep pushing and don’t wait and expect things to fall into their lap. It’s also keeping the momentum. You start and you think “oh, creative idea”, but the biggest challenge is starting a business. Before you dive in you’ve got to realize that it’s not just the creative part, you need shareholders or a partner who actually knows how to deal with all those [business] aspects.
Sizwe Nzima: Social Entrepreneur
Sizwe Nzima, aka “the bicycle guy”, is a social entrepreneur with a heart and passion for community development . After winning R10 000 for best entrepreneurial student, in 2012 the Raymond Ackerman Academy graduate kick-started his business, Iyeza Express, which delivers chronic medication to the elderly in the township of Khayelitsha.
Where did the idea for Iyeza Express spring from?
I was reading about how hospitals couldn’t cope with the large increase of chronic patients and with the hospitals being overcrowded – and how the health department is trying to improve that service. Other people saw it as a problem, but I thought I could come up with a solution.
What is the next step?
We’re trying to create a model that can be easily applicable into other parts of the city to expand to other townships and maybe even the province. The bigger picture is to go national.
Danilo Acquisto: Entrepreneur and Presenter
You may know him as the charismatic “umlungu” on HecticNine9, but Danilo is also the co-creator of popular youth media magazine 6B Magazine, proving he’s got more going on than just that camera-ready smile.
How did you get involved with HecticNine9?
They hosted auditions all throughout the Western Cape and were hoping to find a white guy, and I happened to be there. I was horrendous. Even the production manager said my audition was horrendous. But I met one of the presenters and he liked my energy and thought I had potential to make it on television.
Were you attracted to the media industry’s glitz and glamour?
People think of the world in a really black and white context, and they think things are either this or that. They don’t know that there are other options. I want my drive and talent to speak far louder than what I’m wearing or how much money I have or anything like that; that, for me in the long run, is absolutely irrelevant.
What’s the story with co-founding 6B Magazine?
I got a whole lot of people in the industry talking about how they got [where they are], what they did and what they studied. We’re basically there to give information [to] creative industry people. If you have questions, we’ll get [answers]. On our site we’ve got all the bursaries, study options, universities and everything that you need to know.