Nandi Dlepu, the consummate creative, business woman, and partner to The Wire favourite, Hussain Van Roos is the brains behind the Wknd Social, Bloom, and much more. With her drive and imagination, she is changing the world and bringing people together
Words: Tshiamo Seape
CSA: You’re quite entrepreneurial – have you always been?
Nandi: I’ve always dreamt of having my own company and thought less about having the perfect job so, in spirit, I guess so. My actual entrepreneurial pursuits are much younger than that, having only thrown my first event for profit nearly 5 years ago.
Why is mentorship so important for young women?
In order to be successful at anything, over and above talent, ethic and drive having some kind of wisdom passed onto you is simply invaluable.
There are just some lessons we don’t need to learn ourselves, receiving an alternative perspective, being challenged on your business plan and ambitions are some of the nurturing aspects of a mentor-mentee relationship.
I understand and am humbled by the universal truth that good ideas are not exclusive to me.
What piece of advice do you wish you had received earlier in your life?
Honestly, nothing comes to mind only because I believe I am exactly where I need to be. The older and more experienced I’ve gotten the question of what advice I wish I had received earlier in life has been replaced with what advice do you wish to move forward with. There is more power in looking forward than in hindsight – to that end, I listen. I’m pretty hard headed and tend to get so fixated on how I want things to roll out that I don’t listen to people around me; a lesson I’ve learnt and keep learning. I listen now and sometimes I still get to do exactly as I had intended.
When you start a new venture, how do you approach it?
I jump straight in. I understand and am humbled by the universal truth that good ideas are not exclusive to me. When I have an idea to do something I get on it, I work out what the ideal picture looks like and then I work out what I can do right now. Sometimes our aspirations are so big and daunting that we falter or just give up. I’ve learnt to be patient and creative in my process. What can I do now, with what I’ve got (Money, relationships etc)? Sometimes the ideal is a 2-5 year plan so I just start even if it means starting small.
What’s your favourite piece of video content that you’ve worked on?
I’ve been working on Absa’s Prosper Films for the last 2 odd years, these are branded films that show what the bank is doing to assist communities and individuals in the country and continent to prosper and about a year ago I worked on a Prosper Film called Afiya. The film follows a young girl through her day, savouring moments with her family, friends, at school and by herself. Moments that she may not have had without the assistance of Absa funded organizations like CIPLA who supply malaria nets and medication to communities in Uganda. It’s beautifully told and shot. You should check it out. I love a good cause as much as I love great storytelling.
What’s your mantra, and how do you live it every day?
I take parts from my favourite poem, Our Deepest Fear, to get me through my various cycles. I am currently very inspired and motivated by the line, “We are all meant to shine like children do.” Which I’ve interpreted to mean not asking for permission in my pursuit of personal greatness and to allow myself to simply be and manifest what is already inside me.
You’re extremely adept at bringing people together – through music (Wknd Social/Feel Good Series) or shared experience (Joho Moms). Have you always been so socially driven?
Yes! I’m actually an extroverted introvert. I live within but I’m also an incredibly social person and all about community. Whether it’s creating them, identifying with them or supporting them there aren’t many feelings greater than a sense of belonging on whatever scale.
What about the Wknd Social made it so popular?
I believe that Joburg was just ready to welcome something new. An alternative to the night time and market scene. Our events had fashion themes and kept popping up in unfamiliar urban spaces which was novel enough to attract people. I also think the women behind the event made it even more compelling. I know there’s the unfair sentiment that women do not support each other or can’t work with each other which I simply no longer buy into or entertain but to the world to see such a dynamic group of women behind this force was an enticing narrative which added to its popularity. But with all that said I’d be doing myself and The Other Girls a huge disservice if I didn’t note the vision and curation of the actual social as well as its executions were absolutely key to its success and popularity.
Is the Feel Good Series the successor the Wknd Social? How do they differ?
Perhaps unwittingly so but mostly because I was co founder of the Social and am now doing this, so more because of the common denominator if you will. Unlike The Wknd Social, the Feel Good Series doesn’t have a pre brunch event and also features a live performance act at sunset. The series has enjoyed a wonderful reception so far and for it to be considered a successor to The Wknd Social, especially so early on, is quite frankly a compliment.
You have so much on your plate, what’s your secret to de-stress?
These past 2 years have been my busiest. Holding down my 9-5 job as a Business Unit Director, founding my own platforms (Bloom, Feel Good Series etc), hosting commissioned events as well as my own in parallel to The Wknd Social was pretty intense. It also marks the first time in my career I’ve actually taken holidays/breaks during the course of the year. 3-4 breaks out of the city and sometimes country to decompress, relax and get inspired.
and keep up with the Feel Good Series on Instagram