By CityLife Arts Writer
As the biggest supporter of the South African youth, Nedbank created YouthX; a movement designed to unlock youth potential by inspiring them and providing access to resources that can help them in their entrepreneurial or career journeys. For the 2022 campaign, the bank collaborated with sixteen changemakers who are shaping trends in various industries to empower and inspire the South African youth.
Thatiso Dube, the name behind streetwear fashion brand; GALXBOY is one of the changemakers driving the YouthX movement.
Dube joined a group of three changemakers in the Arts and Culture category; Trevor Stuurman, Mmiso Luphondo and Tarryn Alberts. The changemakers were tasked to give guidance and share knowledge through a series of events around called YouthX Lives. These events took place around the country where young people had an opportunity to attend for free, learn about the changemakers and their journeys and get financial education from Nedbank through masterclasses.
Youth between the ages of 18 and 26 were also given an opportunity to enter their career or /business ideas for the YouthX Awards. The YouthX Awards are designed to find and reward South Africa’s brightest young minds and provide support to reach their dreams of making a difference in their lives and communities a reality.
The winners walk away with R300 000 worth of prizes including R50 000 in cash, a Huawei technology bundle, as well as a mentorship, learning or networking opportunity, courtesy of Nedbank.
Dube in this interview with CITYLIFE/ARTS shares tips on his 10 year journey in the fashion industry for those who aspire to start a career or business venture in the world of fashion design.
How did you feel when Nedbank invited you to collaborate with them as a YouthX Changemaker and what do you hope to achieve through this programme?
I felt very honoured, I never really do any campaigns that involve me personally but I couldn’t say no to this one because it felt like it was my duty to share my story and to help those with similar stories or backgrounds, because we need more brands like GALXBOY, there’s not enough of us in this space.
Tell us a bit about yourself; where did you grow up, what was your childhood like, career etc.
I grew up in Mamelodi, a township in the east of Pretoria. My childhood was pretty simple, I didn’t have access to information so what I saw is what I knew. I actually used to be a DJ growing up and wanted to study sound engineering after high school, but my parents refused and I ended up doing internal audit at TUKS. Later I changed my course to retail management which was something very close to fashion. Then in 2012 I decided to drop out and asked my parents to give me one year to focus on my brand, but if it didn’t pick up. I then went back to school, finished my degree, and fortunately everything worked out.
When was GALXBOY established and what inspired you to start the business?
The idea came about in 2008, I was in matric and used to make t-shirts with the name ‘Cheeseboy’, for my group of friends. They became popular at school so we started selling them, even made a ‘Cheesegal’ version as well. We wanted to make it one name so we merged the names and called it ‘Cheesegalxboy’ but the name was too long so we chopped it to ‘GALXBOY’ and 2012 was the year I technically started the brand. I was inspired by a brand called AMAKIPKIP, they made me realise that even I can make it in the fashion industry. At that time, I had no idea that black people could own clothing brands until I discovered AMAKIPKIP.
Have you always wanted to be in this business, or did you start off pursuing a different career?
Initially I wanted to be a DJ or music producer, then when that didn’t work out I discovered fashion, I did my research and ended up developing a passion for it.
What inspired you to focus on a brand/business that is for the youth?
Like I said, AMAKIPKIP is the reason why I’m here, and the fact that I started my brand at a young age meant that there was no one else to do it for but my peers who represent the youth. And this was easy because I understood what they liked and wanted.
What tips or advise do you have for someone who wants to make it in the fashion industry or start their own clothing line/brand/business?
Start small, start now, always do your research, you have absolutely nothing to lose but a lot of knowledge to gain when you start something at a young age with no responsibilities. Start while you still have the energy to record 10 000 songs before getting that number 1 hit, you have nothing to lose, the world is ready for us and there’s space for all of us to participate.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned as a business owner/entrepreneur?
The greatest lesson would be TIME, there’s no shortcuts in business even if you have funding, there’s always something you have to give in order to get what you want and that’s time, everything takes time. I have been working really hard for 10 years and I’m only seeing the fruits of my labour now in 2022, and this is the reason why I say start when you’re young, it’s the best time to go for it.
What is your favourite quote or words that keep you inspired?
“If Not Us Then Who? If Not Now Then When?” – John Lewis