A brief chat with creative entrepreneurs, Nandi Dlepu, on how her world has been shaped and her how she plans to continue to shape the future as part of her LEVI’S campaign.
Can you tell us more about yourself including where you grew up and how your upbringing lead to you exploringyour current social initiatives?
“I was in the Eastern cape, Port Elizabeth to be exact but moved around quite a bit. If it wasn’t from neighborhood to neighborhood it was from city to city and eventually province from province. Something I attribute to my need for creating community and wanting to belong somewhere or to something. My childhood innocence was disrupted with the assassination of chris hand, until that very moment I hadn’t truly considered the socio-political environment of my space. I was 11years old at the time and something shifted inside. I became aware of the world around me quite abruptly so and at the same time I started creating worlds within and in my head and as a child I lived more in there and in books then this one. I was pretty socially awkward as a result. I was also pretty much raised in an all-female household and the combination of those primary factors, the moving around, my now unrelenting awareness and being raised by women really have informed who I am.”
What steps are you taking to shape your world into the kind of place you would like it to be?
“My inspiration to create was born from wanting to creating the spaces I wished existed and be the change I wanted to see in the world. Itʼs unfortunate that I’m quoting Ghandi considering his own betrayal of this very powerful statement but thats what Iʼve been doing. If I couldn’t find it, I created it. Often working from a point of both passion and need and I’m not really one to harp on individuality so a common need if you will. Those arethe steps I’ve taken and continue to take.”Was there a specific experience or person that encouraged you to act and start your platform / organisation?
“True to the prose Our Deepest Fear by Marriage Williamson “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. Seeing the example of people in the public eye (Toni Morrison, Oprah, Thandiswa Mazwai, Connie Ferguson, Ava, Solange) and less publicly (my mom, my sisters, my friends, previousemployees) being courageous in their own pursuits has inspired me to be courageous in mine.”
Why is it important to you to make a positive impact on your community?
“Good people want to be good and do good. And as for good people with privilege I believe that doing hard things in order to make a positive impact is part of our calling and responsibility.”
What do you think are the biggest issues facing women at the moment and why?
“Violence and inequality. Not only do we face discriminatory laws we are also being murdered.”
What, in your opinion, would be the best way to start tackling these issues?
“More support for women groups, rehabilitation and preventive programs and influence in public programs. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how this support looks like within education and the curriculum.”
How do you feel that woman can begin celebrating and uplifting one another in a more impactful way?
“Begin implies that we are not, and we are. I think there’s a dangerous narrative around women not supporting each other that just needs to be let go off. My experience has been of women supporting me. The support that my business gets has predominately been from women and I hope that continues and I’d like to see and work at having that grow by considering the needs of my community and catering to them.”
Could you tell us about an inspirational woman in your life and why she inspires you?
“My mom has and will always be my biggest inspiration. She ran a handful of successful businesses when I was growing up and as an entrepreneur I fully appreciate how courageous she needed to be to do so. I wanted for nothing as a kid and the more I found out about her own life, the more I appreciate that I am of her. Her responses to failure have especially touched and taught me to embrace losing. I have a pretty healthywith losing, seems like a strange thing to say but it allows me to win.”
What key message would you like to communicate to the women of South Africa?
“We are enough. We have had enough, and we have enough of whatever is required to make a change.”