On Saturday 6 August, with a smart panel of speakers at The J&B Hive Johannesburg space, we considered the creative and cultural journeys that they have gone through in their life as creative entrepreneurs. We explored how they are using their craft to retain their integrity and equity by building …
On Saturday 6 August, with a smart panel of speakers at The J&B Hive Johannesburg space, we considered the creative and cultural journeys that they have gone through in their life as creative entrepreneurs. We explored how they are using their craft to retain their integrity and equity by building on or refreshing existing brand assets, or by taking inspiration from their lives — to remain relevant in an ever-more saturated space.
We were joined by Phendu Kuta, Founder and Creative Director at UnLabelled Magazine, who gave us an insight into the challenges she faces in running a digital magazine and how she has managed to navigate her way in all of it. She greatly advocated opportunity, risk, passion and business-sense.
A question posed by an audience member flagged up the issue of finance. How is she funding the magazine? “Personal finance with some client work”, Phendu answered. However, Phendu’s self-funded adventure has turned an independent publication into a multi-disciplinary creative agency, working with clients as big and small. What Phendu put across throughout the conversation was a sense of dedication and loyalty to creating an authentic and unique product.
Thabo of The House Catz, also joined us and shared his creative journey and how township stokvel’s influenced him to get into music. He touched briefly on the state of independent music within the broader music industry today; and the opportunities for those looking to thrive as part of it. The question that recurred was wether artistic integrity was a good enough reason to turn down commercial opportunity. Ultimately, one audience member’s opinion that in ever harsh economic times, being open minded to an opportunity and trying to find a way to make it credibly. Thabo, argued fellow music producers, DJs, and artists to constantly innovate so as to improve not just their craft but as well as the music listening experience.
David Tshabalala, graphic designer and founder of Suketchi described how he established Suketchi with his mentor and business partner. David stressed the importance of the small ideas, noting “small can do a lot”. He suggested it’s unwise to strive for the big idea or wait for the big call as there is no such thing. The big idea is more likely to be the sum of a lot of smaller ones.
Whilst David couldn’t say for certain whether this process would be successful or worthwhile, he did state how it’s important to try projects that might not necessarily make sense. “Rely on crazy and keep having these dumb ideas”, he said, “one of them is bound to be smart”. He took us through Run The World; the eye-catching extra-curricular endeavours undertaken by his creative studio, Suketchi, initiated outside of typical client work.Extolled the virtues of this passion projects, and of the creative fulfilment it has brought him. But also realising that it has found value in a more commercial sense, citing the Run The World as a paths to new collaborators, clients and creative prospects.
Get the most out of your time.
Often, it’s tricky for creative companies or individuals to work for free or to fund their passions, especially in the early stages. Thabo and David told us how they have learned to carefully outline exactly how much time and resource they are able to give in these instances, obviously having to balance it with more financially beneficial client work. Dedicating a certain number of days per month to thinking around and researching on Who The Run The World meant that David became very time efficient, and used those precious hours to create something wonderful and worthwhile.
Collaboration over competition
There’s a tendency in most businesses, says Thabo, to always be sizing yourself up against the competition. While a little competitiveness can sometimes be motivating, the pressure it creates can be a creativity killer. Collaboration, he argued, that it can have the opposite effect. When two companies work together, playing to their strengths and placing focus on creating great work rather than out-doing each other, the end result will always be better – and can make both businesses stronger. Phoned and David agreed, stressing the importance of networking as an opportunity to meet people and share learnings and ideas from other businesses, for mutual benefit.
Make it relevant; and find an audience repeatedly
It goes without saying that content should be appropriate, unique and of high quality — and the more evergreen the better given the longtail of internet browsers, Phendu urged us to avoid throw-away content, and instead to focus on lasting value.
The speakers encouraged young creatives to take the time to develop their own personal projects — making products or series that drives, inspires and connects them to new audiences (made up both their peers and potential clients).
Thank you to everyone who decided to join us, it would not have been a Conversations On Creativity without you. Thabo, Phendu and David for taking the time out to share their journey with us. And The J&B Hive Johannesburg for hosting us.