Rubushe (23), from Wynberg, Cape Town, started RNMD Clothing Network & Streetwear three years ago, spurred on by the bleak reality of SA’s economic landscape.
“Young people aren’t guaranteed employment after graduating, so my aim was to start a business to which the youth can relate and that integrates people,” he says.
The BCom finance and information systems graduate from the University of the Western Cape faced many challenges on his entrepreneurial journey. “I almost lost the company in 2014 because of cash flow problems,” he recalls. “I had to start again with nothing in 2015 and I went through depression and anxiety. The upside was that I learnt about the creative side of the industry, thanks to Mzo Gcwabe, Nick Kaoma, Dome Ndata and Tamzyn Manuels, who are the brains behind Head Honcho Clothing,” he says.
“My business initially only made clothing, but has now spread its wings by organising events and brand collaborations, as well as producing its own content through its own media platform.
“When we started the company, we used to buy plain T-shirts and print on them ourselves,” he says. “But because of our desire to be more authentic, we eventually learnt to refine and control our production process. We design all our own garments and our designs are then translated onto pattern boards by our seamstresses.”
Rubushe adds that they do extensive research on available fabrics, which ensures that the designers can choose right ones to use for different garments.
“We also taught ourselves to use Photoshop and Illustrator to develop graphic designs, logos and patterns. Those designs are sent to our printers so that they can print them onto our garments. We then collect the garments and package them,” he explains.
The business was funded by his mother and some of his own savings. “It took a lot of dedication and sacrifice, and at times I felt like giving up, but my passion and ambition kept me going,” he adds.
RNMD Clothing Network & Streetwear has now established itself in the mainstream market as a maker of urban abstract and luxury streetwear.
“We’re now developing a new website where people can order our garments online and view the content and brand innovations we’ve produced for various other companies. In the past, when we were still only a clothing company, we took orders from our social media accounts and our website,” says Rubushe.
Ever since he appeared in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, his entrepreneurial credibility has soared to greater heights.
“Being featured has opened new doors of opportunity which have allowed me to work with brands I never imagined working with before. I was also recently appointed an NDP youth ambassador by the Department of the Presidency, where my role is to help stimulate entrepreneurship and create more opportunities. My networks have expanded not only in Africa but globally.
“I believe everything has its time and I’m learning to take it all in and capitalise on the right opportunities,” he says.