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The circumstances you find yourself in and the challenges brought forth are merely there to aid your growth and fight the odds when everything is against you. If the road to your success has no hardships then it probably leads to nowhere special. Revise your game plan and make certain that those who surround you are beneficial to your development. Don’t be so selfish to leave out people that could add great value to your triumphant story – because more often than not, these companions could save you the trouble of working on your own and having to start all over again, when disappointments hinder your progress.

In the era that we live in, I’d be more surprised to learn of people who expect more handouts, rather than to act on their own abilities. We live in a time where if you aren’t making things happen for yourself, then the active minds and ambitious souls walk on by and catch up to those that continue to search for more opportunities. There’s no excuse not to make it happen, as there’ll always be reasons why you should. No dream is too small to achieve, because even those who remain hopeful still seek reason to be encouraged.

Bespoke PHR is a business of tailored menswear headed by three determined entrepreneurs: Kwandile Dladla, Nkululeko Makhubu and Jacob Nakedi, the operations facilitator of the business venture. They were brought together by devotion, for suits and more precisely, for sophistication and simplicity that compliments their fondness in traditional garments. Meeting with Kwandile and Nkululeko was refreshing because their ideas and opinions about their capabilities as entrepreneurs are intriguing. “After long arguments, ridiculous names were mentioned and eventually Bespoke PHR became our choice. Bespoke is a certain way of making clothes, meaning the customer has control and everything is tailored according to the specifications that they want. They become the designer in a sense, as the clothes have to speak on their behalf.” Nkululeko, the financial manager of Bespoke PHR explained.

Nkululeko further clarified the significance of the three values that they incorporate into the business. “The acronym, PHR stands for pride, honour and respect. As African men and I stress the African part – these are the three values we have to stand by. For some reason, I get a negative response when I say pride but then again we are kings; we are negus and you have to take pride in who we are. From your skin colour, to the way you walk and the way you talk. With honour, you have to honour everything you touch; the clothes that you wear and the woman that you touch. Respect is self-explanatory. You can’t survive if you don’t have respect. You have to have respect for yourself and those around you.

”Kwandile is a stylist and a merchandiser and is in charge of the marketing. He initially started out alone before they formed the partnership. It felt somehow orchestrated, seeing as how they met. “I was on my own and I was into the sartorial Italian look and style. When I met Nkululeko at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week; he approached me and told me that he liked the suit I was wearing. We spoke, built a connection and then decided to work together. Jacob and Nkululeko used to sell suits at markets and that’s how we came together.”

“It’s a very interesting and long story of how we decided to focus solely on selling suits. We are black kids from Soweto and the most that the world expects us to do is to make printed t-shirts that have something written on them. So when someone from our cultural background caters something that’s not expected, it’s a little surprising. You’d expect people from a privileged background to do what we do. We are not expected to do this, we are about breaking boundaries. No, actually, we are breaking pavements. We chose to make suits because it’s really not part of the fabric of our people.”
Both Kwandile and Nkululeko share amusing stories of how they came to love the elegance that comes with wearing a suit. 

Kwandile’s father wore suits all the time and would ridicule him when he only wore a t-shirt and shorts. From an early age, he taught him how to dress and usually bought clothes for him. His dad would wear linen trousers and loafers even when they watched soccer. He grew up with that and believes the fashion trait is imprinted in his genetic code. Nkululeko’s granddad was on a level beyond comprehension. His usual routine on weekends involved getting up, taking a bath and dressing up to the nines just to do the garden. When he would ask him why he wouldn’t wear t-shirts, he bluntly told him that if it doesn’t have a collar then it’s just underwear. He needed not to say anything more.Confidence, determination, a year’s worth of research and strategic planning came into play when the trio set out to start the company. “When you start out, you can be confident but you can never really know if it will work out or not. 

The best we did was put out our entire efforts and hoped the world would accept us for our contribution. We were confident and we did our research for a year and a half, from 2012 until sometime in 2013. We went full-fledged in 2014 and started working. It takes a while to make a bespoke suit because it’s hand-made. The artesian takes time because it’s more of the craft that goes behind it. We design the suits, choose the fabric and control the details of the end product.”
“It was most difficult to get the finances to start up, the marketing and getting people to believe in us and the brand. People know and they can feel if you’re not genuine, they will call you out if you mislead them.”

Bespoke PHR’s highest achievement yet was designing a suit and dressing Parks Tau, the major, at the State of the City Address, earlier this year. Somehow, they knew even before it happened that they would end up in a sartorial establishment. “It was always going to get here. We could have never chosen anything else; life pushed us in this direction. It was meant to happen the day we met.” Presently, they are planning a showcase exhibition where the consumer can feel the product first-hand, interact with the founders and ask questions related to the various suits on show. “People have to understand what they are buying, to believe in the product and be satisfied we what we put out.”
Under stressful situations, amongst the three of them, someone becomes the voice of reason. 

“We deliberate when we take on certain projects. We reject more than we accept. We are focused more on quality because that’s our priority. When we reject people, we discuss and explain within reason. We have a 100-year plan and we’ll take this baby to the moon. The foundation is solid and the people will come because we don’t need the fancy gibberish.” Nkululeko and Kwandile stated.

Bespoke PHR is human with an African elegance that appeals to humanity. You’d have to wear the suit to feel the texture, the design and the perfection sewn with each stitch. They stick to the classic basics; grey, navy blue and black. And apart from everything else, they are traditionalists and swear on simplicity. The Bespoke PHR brothers have sophistication, eminence and tradition rooted in their creations and they bring with them African pride. So, they are Perfectionists in every sartorial sense and are true hard-workers who don’t conform to anything less.

“Art is making the comfortable uncomfortable. It is something that jumps up and it affects you.” – Kwandile Dladla

“Art is any human emotion captured in one creation.” – 
Nkululeko Makhubu

“Art is the ability to interpret and express an emotional state using colour, words, and geometrics that heeds one’s senses.” – 
Jacob Nakedi

Bespoke PHR contact info

Email: Admin@bespokePHR
Tel: 072 388 7735 / 073 122 6440
Office 105D The Main Change
20 Kruger Street
City and Suburban Johannesburg

Article by Sithembiso Promise Xaba
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