by Nyarie Munodawafa
Tupac left a work of art that was titled ‘The Rose That Grew From Concrete.’ This has become one of my favorite phrases as it truly resonates with my life and where I come from. Growing up from where we came from, we didn’t have many choices to give us hope, we didn’t have much, PERIOD! and the environment just wasn’t conducive to produce winners. At this point of my life I met an amazing person, happy and jovial then regardless of the struggle, we became really good friends and as life has progressed we have maintained our friendship and I must say I have the utmost respect for this dude. Did you hear me when I said we didn’t have much to fall back on? Yeah, I know his story first hand and how he has gone on to become a barrier breaker in his own right! He took down a system that was designed for him to fail. There were no options for us back then but he broke that system and made options for himself, nature said no but he said I will make it happen, I saw his struggle and I saw him break through and YES Ngugi Vere is that ‘rose that grew from concrete’
Ngugi as you all now know him is a fashion guru, he is a stylist, a fashion creative, a creative director and a producer who has rightfully earned his stripes in the fashion industry. He works with a lot of celebrities and prominent people and is a trusted household brand. His creative brain is to die for and the people who work with him live to tell this tale and so do the accolades that he has gained over the past years. Ngugi also has a heart of gold, he is currently running a Pads campaign to help less privileged girls who are in desperate need of sanitary wear, this is his own way of giving back and I applaud him for this. He is also an amazing uncle to his nieces, his timeline is filled with their adorable photos (it’s the cutest thing ever), he is a great brother and a great friend.
Losing your mother at a young age is nothing I wish on anyone, I went through it and years later I still break down and wail. It’s tough and as a child, the effect this has on your life can literally break you especially if a mother is all you have. This loss had a huge impact on how Ngugi’s life would turn out and I had to get all the information on how this affected him and the turning point in his life. Ngugi gives us an all-access pass into his life to help us understand where his drives comes from, who he is, his past and his future and what it cost for him to become the man that we all know now.
Walk me through a Ngugi Vere day. How does it start off, what do u get up to and at what point do you call it a night? Do you have a morning or evening ritual?
Ngugi Vere aka King Vere wakes up at 6 am, pray for the day, hit the gym or exercise indoors then off to my meetings or studio. Sometimes it’s waking up to go fabric shopping or early morning shoots. My day can go from Personal Styling to Personal Shopping to Consultation meetings. Then make sure to get home before 9 pm for prayers and devotions. Of course, late supper while listening to music. I love music, it both soothes my soul and helps me to be creative. Afterward, I work til 2/3 am mostly working on designs or creating concepts.
Tell me about your childhood, what lessons you got from it and some of your happy moments?
As a child, I learnt a lot because I lost a lot of people I loved. I learned mostly to be strong, fight hard for life and trust in God, and not men. The pain and suffering I experienced after my mother passed away when I was just 10 years old made me realize some people are not who they pretend to be. Mostly, I found love in genuine people who had nothing to give me but love.
What do you consider to have been the lowest point in your life and how did you pick yourself up? What conversation did you have with yourself to sail you through?
My lowest point was losing the only person who made sense to my life. Losing someone who loved me more than life itself. Someone who believed in me even when my grades were low and would always look for ways to cheer me up (shopping). She inspired and influenced my love for fashion. She took me shopping every weekend and allowed me to choose clothes for myself. I grew up with my mom, just the two of us and she was so selfish with me. I only knew her and a few family members. My life was drowning and I had given up on life when I lost her. And 2 weeks after I lost her, I lost my 2nd love – my grandmother. I started drinking, smoking, taking drugs etc because I felt there was no point of existing after losing the greatest love. It was only 6 years later that it dawned on me that I was not gonna die anytime soon so I had to fix my life or else I would continue struggling alone. Already, I was suffering because all those who pretended to love me when my mom was alive disappeared. Then, I realised no one owes me anything in life, I have to sort out my life and live the life I had always dreamed of when mom was around. I started going to church, got saved and served in the house of the Lord. From then on I started living a positive life and believing in myself that good things could come out of my loss.
What mantra or mantras do you live by?
God first , Be Bold, Be Yourself.
How does Ngugi Vere choose his friends? And what advice would you give to a younger you concerning the people in your circle?
It is very critical to be in the right circles. Our environments influence how we live, think, talk and act. If those around you don’t inspire you to be great, you will never be great. You need to position yourself with positive and ambitious individuals.
Let’s talk business, how did you get started and why? What do you consider to have been the biggest break for you?
I have always been a business person but was never loud about it. I used to sell clothes in school and in the hood during the school holidays. Oh well, they called it dealing but I saw it as a business because I could make a profit from something I got for next to nothing because I have this ability to convince. And the fact that I used you to dress well made it easy for me to sell anything. My current business started in 2014 when I returned from Asia where I was shooting an International Reality show, Style Wars. I told myself that I would never work for anyone and I’m going to establish my fashion ideas in South Africa, I would keep trying til I made it. My biggest break was when I was handpicked to be part of an International show with top 6 stylists from around the world and I was the only African. I couldn’t believe it because I was jobless, less experienced but I got an opportunity of a lifetime. I knew it was God because people were refusing to work with me or intern me because I wasn’t gay. Apparently, to them, gays are more creative so every time I got turned down, the experience and lessons changed my life, particularly my views and perspective on fashion and styling. When I got back the same people who turned me down were now consulting me. I started working with a lot of celebrities and then my business started.
What is the Ngugi Vere brand all about, how has it set itself apart from all other African products on the market, what values does this brand uphold?
Ngugi Vere | Be Bold is a brand that believes in Africa, African aesthetic and what Africa carries. And we represent the character that Africans need to possess to conquer the world Fashion industries which is being BOLD. We believe only the ‘Bold’ can run this world. So our designs, approach, concepts and stories are all about spreading boldness and uniqueness. We telling an African story that hasn’t been heard.
Over the years what sort of challenges have you faced in setting up your business considering you started out at an early age, What lessons have you gotten from these experiences and what advice would you give to someone who is looking to be an entrepreneur at a young age?
Entrepreneurship has no age factor. It’s all about having a vision, determination, hunger, purpose and discipline. The same challenges you face at a young age are the same ones you will deal with when you’re older. So those should never be your focus. Your focus should be on achieving your vision and goals despite the challenges. If you are not patient and don’t have a strong heart to endure tough times then you are not ready to be an entrepreneur. You must be willing to learn every day.
Being an entrepreneur is not easy because the money does not always roll in, how then do you manage your finances bearing in mind bills and having to save for a rainy day or old age, what structure do you have in place
Entrepreneurship is all about taking risks. High risks equals high rewards. So one should never lay all their eggs in one basket. Have different streams of income so that one can support the other when the other under performs. And the other thing is to have a Savings Account which saves for future events; lobola, weddings, accidents, death etc. It will come in handy when your other streams of income are under-performing. My main structure though is Faith. Handover your business to God, let him be the CEO. When we fail, we fail together and it’s His baby to figure out a way to get us up, survive and strive. And paying tithes is key.
How do you prepare yourself for a meeting?
I pray first and share with God what my meeting is about and what I need to achieve. Then, I start motivating myself lol, telling myself ‘I AM THE BEST’. Then research about the client. Dress nice and put on my favorite cologne then I’m ready.
What do you wish you had done differently when you first got into the business and what does the future hold for the Ngugi Vere brand?
I don’t wish I had done anything differently. I did exactly the way it was supposed to be done. You don’t need to start perfect, you just need to start. I just focus on my future endeavors and opportunities. I look into expanding my brands into the European, Asian and middle East markets, and also expand my products. It is a very exciting future that just needs investments, but yea we trusting God for that.
Do you read? If yes what are your top three favorite books?
Yea, I do read a lot. My top 3 books; the Bible, Man’s Style manual, The Virgin by Richard Branson
You are loud about your faith? Who instilled these values in you and why does it mean so much to you?
My Faith came from when Salvation found me and my life found a new dawn. I have always lived my life through faith because when I asked people for help it was never there but God’s favor and love always showed up. And, I know only He understands me, my dreams and my hustle. He always rescues me in a time of need. So, I also try to inspire others to trust in God.
Your dream destination and who would you take with you?
My dream destination is between Maldives and Monaco. I’d love to take my late mother’s sister but I guess I can’t now. So my woman or my grandma.
If I don’t ask this question the ladies will have me on a platter, what are you looking for in a woman and what are you waiting for?
Kikikkkkkkkki! You just had to ask hey? Oh well, I am against divorce and single parenting so I would rather wait until I find someone who makes sense to me and feel I would never do without, than being in a relationship and realise I made a mistake and break up. The wait is worth the while for me until I’m certain. I just want everything to be perfect. Well, I want a woman with a smart mind, beautiful heart and body, a hustler, good dresser, God fearing, strong faith and above all who supports my hustle and makes me smile and laugh foolishly. In short, I want someone who compliments me; my faith and my hustle.
I hope and pray that Ngugi’s inspirational story helps you to understand that you have it within you to break any barrier, no matter what life has thrown at you, you can still rise above it all. If you rely on people and they let you down, keep on going, a door will soon open and you will rise to the top. Don’t give up just yet and keep fighting for your dreams. You too can be that rose that grew from concrete, continue to write your own story despite the obstacles and challenges that are before you.
Ngugi for allowing your story to inspire me and a lot of other people out there I say THANK YOU, go ahead and stand on whatever mountain top and yell, ‘mama you rose made it.’
Visit Nyarie’s blog on alhubbnyaree.com