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We caught up with Rudi Cronje Cape Town based Puma lifestyle marketing manager and a creative. Rudi is one individual who values conversations and meeting up with creative individuals, within an hour or less you are bound to learn more about what he values and amazing stories about the Puma brand. Rudi’s journey to being a lifestyle manager has been complimented by many experiences from living in different countries to being part of a successful band known as Ashtray Electric as a guitarist.

His experience and knowledge has crafted him to be what he is today and his creative ability theatres a major role in the growth of Puma.

What is a typical week for you?

I try squeeze in at least 2 runs before work. Once the trails on Table Mountain has bitten you it’s hard to stay away. On Monday’s I try and take stock of what happened over the weekend, where and what the PUMA artists were up to. I also make a fresh list of stuff to do for the week. The rest of the time is made up meetings and general day to day work stuff. There are also regular after work stops at Publik Wine Bar.

How did you get to where you are.

I think some of it is luck but in all honesty it’s probably all hard work. I have a huge thirst for knowledge so I never really stop learning, settling for mediocre is also not acceptable.  As soon as I felt that I was being squashed in a job or a mindset I would hustle and move, through all the years of touring with the band I learnt a lot about how subcultures develop and how to stay in touch with them.

How is working in Cape Town different to working in Johannesburg?

Although I spend a lot of time in Johannesburg I’ve never actually lived there. There are however many, many differences. The approach to street culture is fundamentally different. I do however see it as a challenge and treat each city on merit.

How do you manage to make sure that both stores in Cape Town and Johannesburg constantly maintain the brands work ethic?

My job doesn’t really entail having to look after the day to day of the stores but I do love to spend a lot of time in them, they are such a great place to tell the brand stories. As mentioned earlier though I don’t like mediocre so it’s just in my nature to make sure the guys also do their best when it comes to running a store as well as telling the brand stories to new and existing consumers.

What advice would you give to someone who’d want to follow in your footsteps?

Work hard. Never stop asking questions. Know your worth. Network and make connections that you can count on. And lastly look for the real reasons things happen or movements start – they generally have a single human truth behind them.

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be.

I would have just gotten into it earlier. Then again, if it wasn’t for all the rest of the things I did I probably wouldn't have ended up here.

How did the PUMA Select Sessions come about?

Since the rebranding for PUMA to Forever Faster and us striving to be the fastest sports brand in the world we’ve taken on this mentality in everything we do. So with something as forward thinking as PUMA Select you need to keep on moving into the next realm. For us the sessions are the next step in utilising a retail space for cultural conversations. We’ve got some absolutely awesome ones lined up so keep an eye on the @PUMASouthAfrica Twitter account for news.

What’s that one PUMA pare of kicks that completes your collection and why?

Man, I have so many. For me personally it’s the PUMA x UNDFTD 24k colab. I have one of the 300 pairs of the white ones. They don’t come out very often but when they do you better watch out! But I think the overall quintessential PUMA sneaker is a black and white Suede. That’s the icon right there.

 You were part of a rock band titled Ashtray Electric, how was that experience and how did it influence your progression?

That was probably the greatest experience of my life so far as a whole. Whilst you are in it you don’t really realise what you are achieving. Now that I look back at everything we've done it created the platform for what I am today. Nowadays when artists you speak to (or more likely who want to speak to you as a big brand) come with stories about how difficult it is to play shows or how hard it is to record an album I just sit back and chuckle. If anything the band gave me the chance to go there and be part of it. We had 4 MKtv Award nominations, 1 MKtv Award, 1 SAMA nomination; we played Rocking the Daisies, Oppikoppi, and everything in between. I've been there man, I've done all that.

What is currently on your playlist?

I’ve had a massive resurgence of some of the music that got me into playing guitar in the first place. Pearl Jam, Arctic Monkeys… stuff like that. Then I also listen to a lot of what’s ‘cool’ today to try and get my head around it. Another firm favourite at the moment are these mixes called Fixtapes made by Sole Bicycles. It’s cool to drive, run, ride and work to. Check it out here:

Do you ever aspire to design a kick? If yes, how would you go about?

Definitely! But damn, I think the hardest part would be to pick a silhouette. But after that it would all be personal. At the moment I’d probably do a dark grey, gold and white one cause we’re busy renovating our kitchen at the moment and that’s the colour way we’re going for that. It would definitely be something arbitrary like that or the colours of our cat or something silly.

This is a tough choice, between the Boris Becker and the BWGH design? Which one will you prefer and why?

Easy. Boris all the way. It’s a simple, classic silhouette that will never go out of fashion. Don’t get me wrong, the BWGH ones are epic! (I own 3 pairs myself) The heritage and story behind how Boris as a red headed 178 year old teenager won Wimbledon in them in 1985 is just too good.

What are your ultimate PUMA essentials?

I can’t go without my fold up PUMA/BioMega bike. That and my ever growing collection of running stuff – lightweight jackets, blank performance T’s… That and my iPhone – it’s at least got a PUMA cover on it ok?!

What else are you working on?

We've got some great initiatives for the year lined up. The Fixtapes should have given you an idea of one of them. We’re also working on something big with our local ambassadors so keep an eye out for that towards the end of the year.

As a Lifestyle Marketing Manager what is your perception towards South African street culture?

It’s essential that you listen to the streets – I believe that’s where it starts. So ultimately my perception of South African style is that it is as unique as the place that it originates from.

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Solomon Molefe | Leadership | Culture | Trends
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