Brian Mokhachane has been collaborating with a group of Soweto-based artists since 2005. Known as SoulArt Foundation, they make trendy fashion objects by hand, which they then sell at hip marketplaces such as 1 Fox, Market on Main and along Braamfontein’s Juta Street on Saturdays. The group uses recycled materials for necklaces, bracelets and handbags. Brian explains how they came about: “Soweto has a lot of unemployment and we wanted to show that we can create art from anything, like recyclable materials.” Part of his vision is also to build opportunities for the youth – Brian is currently training 30 children to sew.
At this stage, however, training is not the main thrust of Brian’s business.“We really started taking things seriously last year,” he says. “I was in Braamfontein when somebody bought a bag from us without asking for a discount.” His face lights up as he recounts the tale. “We had just been chased away from one of the streets and so crossed over to Juta Street. There we met a couple who were very happy to buy our product. That made me realise that there are people who are willing to invest their hard-earned money. It was validating.”
Brian’s ultimate dream is to create an academy in Soweto to boost his vision for training the youth. He believes an academy will also rejuvenate the community spirit and ultimately lead to much more employment when talents are harnessed. For the youth he wishes to “inspire out-of-the-box thinking,” he says. While this project currently has no funding, Brian insists that this is just the beginning. “To set up containers and sell from a central point requires money. I have identified potential funders and we are in the process of applying.”
- What are you most passionate about?
– I’m mostly passionate about entrepreneurship and art.
- What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
– Quitting my nice job for a dream to become a social entrepreneur.
- What makes you angry?
– Irresponsible behaviour.
- If you inherited an acre of land what would you do with it?
– I will create an open air art studio and themed up cycled park for my community, especially the youth, and create a space for collaboration, skills transfer, public art, recycling and up cycling multi discipline art, which is what I’m currently working on.
- Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
- How many pairs of shoes do you own?
7.If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
– African cuisine.
- How would people communicate in a perfect world?
– face to face with respect, honesty and humility.
- What do you work toward in your free time?
– Research on distributing my products, getting land to express my ideas, collaboration and skills transfer initiatives under my project ‘SOULART FOUNDATION’.
- If you woke up and had 300 unread emails and could only answer 30 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?
– Would screen important emails first, that stand to invest in my project’s growth.
- Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful.
– People, sea, roses.
- Have you used plastic bags for your shopping in the last two weeks?
- What would you say are some small steps that people can take to improve their relationship to the environment?
– Firstly being responsible when it comes to littering: people create dumping sites especially in townships that later harm the whole community. People must develop love for themselves first then they will see value in their surrounding environment. The environments that surround us define us; love yourself, re-use, reduce, recycle.