“I have huge dreams and I run a comedy company that could potentially lower this country’s intellectual capacity. But also entertain the masses,” says Simphiwe Xulu, a Creative Strategist and Entrepreneur. I was majorly concerned about the distance involved when I first approached Simphiwe about this interview. Considering that he is based in Johannesburg and I in Cape Town, I feared an email interview would not do his personality justice. Having graduated from UKZN (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal) in 2011 with a BA Media and Visual arts degree, he’s mastered the art of switching from being a sharp media and advertising wave-maker to a witty visionary (Or Njevolutionary, as he calls himself) effortlessly.
I first met the 26-year-old in 2012, here in Cape Town at the Loerie (Advertising) Awards. He explained how his company (Nje-just – which means “Just because we can” in Zulu slang) is a lifestyle brand that also designs and sells trademark T-shirts. I had seen some peers rocking the signature T-shirts on Facebook (with the Njevolution logo) and I was very curious to find out what the deal was behind this aspiring businessman from Eshowe Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Simphiwe has come a long way from wanting to be Van Damme at 10-years-old. He now dreams of creating work that impacts and changes his community and challenges society in 10 years time. At present though, he is a creative who provides strategic solutions for brands, using his understanding of art and design principles at Ornico Media Johannesburg.
His own company, Njejust, was the brain-child of four University of Kwa-Zulu Natal graduates who provide a comical snapshot of life in South Africa through their lens – as young black South Africans who grew up in the township but attended Model C schools. So they produce comics, have a funky clothing range and shoot comical video advertisements.
I asked him if he finds any spare time with all the activity in his life. “I totally enjoy working on my media and advertising blog www.starvingcreatives.wordpress.com that I share with a friend. I try read as much as I can and pretend I’m smart by watching TED.com videos.”
Apart from all his dreams, Simphiwe says he is inspired by the simple things in life. “Sleeping on the floor for the first couple of months when I came to Joburg… Otherwise, I am seriously inspired by ordinary people who have done great things, or are doing great things.” He also attributes most of his daily dose of laughter to “Daily Sun headlines, balding men and a lot of other avoidable things like bad breath. But number one is my friends and business partners at Njejust. They are simply the funniest collection of people I have ever met. If you ever meet a guy called Dumisani Ndaba, he is honestly one of the funniest guys alive.”
He describes how his biggest achievement so far has been earning a living doing what he loves. Not many people can say that in life. “Also, having the opportunity to start my own company with my friends is a blessing. I’m still going to have a lot of fun, experience a lot of failure, but eventually I will have been the one guy of my generation who lived his dreams.”
You can follow Simphiwe Xulu on Twitter @Mr_MediaX and his company @Njejust.