You will never hear me be an advocate for those who decide to drop out of school and ‘truncate’ their education. Perhaps I am yet to fully grasp the concept that education is not limited to the walls of a classroom. Indeed, some very ‘uneducated’ fellows are schooling me right on these pages.
Nick Kaoma is the CEO of the leading streetwear clothing label in South Africa, and yes, he decided that acquiring a certificate in Accounting was nowhere as exciting as actually plunging head first into building his clothing empire.
Born in Qwaqwa, South Africa, and tasked with the arduous burden of supporting his younger siblings through school and life after the passing of their parents, Nick Kaoma remained undeterred. He invested his time in researching the Cape Town fashion and media culture and attending the right fashion events events while working first as a waiter and later as a Sales Person. He also worked as a Feature Writer for Uhuru Communications Student Choice publication before being promoted to Editor at the age of 24.
At 25, he officially launched his clothing label in 2008 with partner Mzoxolo Gcwabe.
Yes, lack of capital etc plagued the young man, but his biggest challenge was, self-doubt. Young, inexperienced, lacking the right connections, there were more than enough reasons to stand down, but Nick Kaoma obviously does not know that word. According to him, the best way to kill self-doubt is by talking to people who have actually succeeded in whatever industry you are interested in and realizing that they are mere mortals like you.
Ranked 4th on the Forbes list of Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2014, Nick Kaoma aspires to change the South African fashion industry, and in an interview with Broke Billionaire, recounted some of his reasons for starting Head Honcho. He stated, “As fans and consumers of everything urban and street, we felt that South African streetwear lovers were being short-changed in terms of quality and originality. Personally, I watched the game from the sidelines for 7 years straight while silently lamenting the half-heartedness that epitomised the approach from many local brands. In a nutshell, we decided to change the game.” Another inspiration was, “The simple desire to create something magical that reflects the spirit of our times.”
Head Honcho is heading the pack in streetwear fashion with collaborations with brands such as Miller and Play, and was the first local brand to be stocked in Shesha and Sportscene outlets all over the country and in other African countries like Nigeria and Zambia.
Nick Kaoma has a load of advice for budding entrepreneurs which traverses national barriers. According to him, only start a business if you have passion for a particular industry, a unique product or service offering, business acumen that will help drive your company.
Others tips include, reading voraciously about business and successful entrepreneurs, learning basic cash flow management skills, and outworking the competition.
For Nick Kaoma, the best part of Head Honcho is that it inspires young people to live progressively, and that says alot about this Head Honcho.