Humbu Vhulahani is the founder and CEO of Man-Made Executive Wear, an Image Consultant, Fashion Designer, and Fashion Stylist.
Born in Johannesburg, Soweto, and raised in Venda at Khubvi village.
For Vhulahani, growing up in the dusty streets of Khubvi, a rural area with limited opportunities and amenities, against all odds, it didn’t stop him to build an empire for himself ‘Man-Made Executive Wear’ working as an image consultant doesn’t seem like a career choice, but fate that he could not resist from an early age.
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He matriculated at Mphaphuli High School, the same school attended by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
With over a decade of professional designing and styling experience, Vhulahani has designed and styled some of our favourite entertainers, politicians, businessmen, radio personalities and TV productions.
He stated that his career has been a journey with many lessons learned, attesting that nothing comes easily.
During this interview, he shared some of the lessons. Perhaps we can grasp a thing or two about chasing our own goals and creating our own empire.
Q & A
Tell us about yourself and your career so far, how did it all start?
I was born in Soweto. I moved to Venda when I was 7-years-old and lived there for most of my childhood life. I grew up in the dusty streets of a village called Khubvi.
Khubvi is a rural area with fewer opportunities and the environment isn’t that appealing. I spent most of my childhood with my mother and siblings while my father worked hard to give us a better life.
I insisted on spending my school holidays in Johannesburg because I knew that I would be more exposed to learning.
I remember the CV I wrote when I was 18-years-old, it had image consultant on it. I knew nothing about image consultancy then, just loved the sound of it and was always the go-to guy when it comes to fashion, style and image advice.
I began to design, testing with photographers and building my book and making the right contacts. My career, so far, has been a journey of travel, experiences, and learning.
What is Image Consulting?
An image consultant is someone who works on helping you build an image that you want others to have of you. In a world where perception is a reality, it is important that we set the right first impression. An image consultant can work on either one, two or all pillars to improve your appearance.
Appearance – You’re dressing habits, styling, accessories, and wardrobe patterns
Behaviour – What you portray through your actions and body language.
Communication – How well do you address others and your way of imparting knowledge.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be like you?
Study your field, and also have a little fashion history under your belt. This can really help others understand your vision and comprehend what you’re are talking about.
Because I’ve never really had a mentor, I learned mostly on my own. It was a hard and exorbitant road. I would highly recommend a mentor.
Assistance can really give you an insight into what this career entails and if it’s really something worth undertaking.
What obstacles did you face growing up?
Growing up in a less developed community, I wish there was a way we could’ve been taught about starting a business and where to access the necessary development resources.
I knew from a young age that I did not want to work for anyone. It was hard convincing my parents and everyone around that you want to go into business without any relevant qualification or knowledge. I basically had to go about it the hard way.
What life lessons did you learn growing up?
It’s important to expose yourself and to network as much as possible.
No matter what your dream is, with dedication and exposure you can achieve it.
If you could choose anyone to give a makeover, who would it be and why?
ANC SG Gwede Mantashe – I think he needs it hahaha!!
What advice would you give an upcoming fashion stylist?
Confidence is the number 1 rule in this game.
Don’t follow trends, have your own agenda.
How important is fashion?
Fashion is extremely important in one’s life. Look at it as a confidence booster and non-verbal communication. You are able to communicate and express who you are, your mood and state of mind through fashion without uttering a word.
What are your plans for the future?
Diversifying into construction.
You can connect and check out Humbu’s brand www.mamadeexec.com
Social media ManMade Executive Wear.
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