Five @ Five: with Nandi Dlepu.

Described “as an entrepreneur, mother and connector of people” by Glamour Magazine, as “someone who likes to create really cool sh*t, but cool sh*t that impacts people positively” by Hello ambassador and “as a trendsetting individual that is leading and shaping contemporary culture” by Lampost. It is undeniable that Nandi Dlepu is a mover and a shaker.

She is a creative force and the founder of a creative agency, Mamakashaka, that has all the brands that she either founded or co-founded; from Bloom Org, a community of creative women conferences, talks & masterclasses. Feel Good Series, which is a series of experiences celebrating & showcasing upcoming artists. Pantone Sundays, a color themed fashion experience and UMI – Our Music Festival, the umi of Feel Good Series and a creative fun house of music and culture. If this isn’t cool sh*t, then I don’t know what is. Here’s this week Five @ Five;

1. How would you describe yourself in three words and the work that you do in three words?

I’d describe myself as creative, strategic and passionate and my work or business as inspired, empowering and entertaining. In starting my business I was very conscious about the foundation or all the boxes the brands I created had to tick. This extends well into the client work we take on. 

2. You are a household name and Mamakashaka is a thriving agency, how do you do it?

A household name? You flatter me. I’m yet to fully comprehend the reach and impact of our efforts. For the most part I live in my own world and even though I’m strategic I work a lot from a place of inspiration and passion. I just believe good work and good deeds travel. 

3. How do you find the balance between all the projects that run under the agency?

Honestly, it’s challenging. I check in on the performance, intentions and sustainability of our brands regularly. I pray on attracting the support thats needed often and I try exercise the courage to lean on others and ask for help. On the agency side of the business which is the client work I do (mainly ideation, strategy and curation) I’ve come to grasp my cap better and always endeavor to keep my client pool small but quality.

4. How hard was it for you as a black woman to get where you are in your career?

I have felt challenged and excluded as a result of being black, being a woman, being both but for some reason that question is hard for me to respond to. I know and recognize the violence and biases directed at me and I am angered, sometimes fearful and hurt by them but I suppose I look at being a black woman, being myself as being such a blessing that a lot of how I move is inspired by how glorious I am, how glorious all black women are. That glory has worked in and for me despite the bs.

5. What would you tell a young black girl navigating the creative entrepreneurship industry with no formal guidance?

Assuming she has access to data, I would tell her to explore her interests widely and with fervor and assuming she has “disposable” income, I would urger her to travel. I would encourage her to cultivate a meaningful and nurturing relationship with herself and then others and I’d challenge her to exercise her intuition, her creativity and courage daily.

I will close off this article but saying the last question was me asking for “a friend.” I nodded my head from the word ‘assuming’ to ‘daily.’

I am passionate about telling my stories as a mother, a woman, a black woman, a South African, an African, a creative, a friend, a sister and as a human being. – Nandi Dlepu

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