PLAYFUL HUSSAIN VAN ROOS | Flat base decoded
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When you’re given the chance to be better at being yourself, take the opportunity and renew your thoughts. Don’t allow yourself to be complacent; doing the same things and choosing to change nothing about your circumstances and where you are headed next. Your good qualities should remain consistent, whilst shifting and reinventing old ways to something of value. These changes won’t happen in a day. So long as you keep working on yourself, you’ll get better. As you might have found – nothing is as worse as being predictable and doing absolutely nothing to change it.

Hussain van Roos and his co-partners, Mojalefa and Karabo Masopha, are family first and then business partners. They started Fixin Diaries; a bicycle refurbishment company, that has been running for over a year and a half. The company redesigns and repairs bicycles including smaller projects; and have hosted numerous bicycle ride events.

Blessed with the knack to assemble and fix the broken; they’ve learnt this lesson with themselves and for the business. They continue to learn and be better, taking nothing for granted. They know first-hand what it’s like to lose something of value, far more precious than the jewels of the world. “When my partners lost their mother, they looked for something to do and wanted to keep busy and deal with their loss. What we do now started out as a past time until it became a regular way for us to spend time and work together.”

After stumbling onto the business idea when a friend offered to buy a bicycle they had fixed and redesigned, they knew they had to act on the opportunity. “When he offered to buy the bicycle, we knew there was a business opportunity brewing and had to act on it. Another friend suggested we think beyond the normal and find a unique name that would relate and identify with the business. At first, we used the name, Vintage House. We changed it when our friends made us realise that the term vintage was worn out so we had to think of something else. If we wanted to pioneer a movement, we had to rethink our name and the brand.”

They were determined to come up with an inventive name that defined their ideals and creative freedom, so they brainstormed a little more. “The name came spontaneously and when ideas started flowing, we decided and stuck to Fixin; as it comes from fixing and refers to the ability to refurbish bicycles and other smaller projects. Diaries; describes us digitally documenting each milestone we reach through events, collaborations and the rides we host. The diary is readily available online unlike locking it away as people would normally do.”

Fixin Diaries is situated in Melville – a business hub that takes the old with the new and has been around for over a decade. “Melville boasts alternative ways of living and it forms part of the lifestyle aspect of Fixin Diaries. By day, it supports our daily business run and at night it allows us to host events tailored for our clients and our network. We further injected a different concept of having your ‘Friday drinks after work’ and gave it a new definition. It’s worked out really well for us and gives us the chance to make friends with our clients and explore as much as we can.”

Hussain, Karabo and Mojalefa share the same Islamic beliefs and values, which would explain their close-knit connection and brotherhood. “We have a stronghold on our beliefs. Hussain means Handsome in Arabic – but I swear this was not meant to describe my physical appearance in any way. I come from a Christian family. When my father decided to become a Muslim man, I followed in his footsteps by embracing Islam as my way of life. I have admiration for him and his religious viewpoints.”

The response that Fixin Diaries has received from friends, supporters and the companies they've partnered with is commendable and outstanding. “It wasn’t as simple to start out and it took a couple of arguments and lots of making up. There are no tricks as to why the business has been received so well, none at all, it's all hard work. To get where we are; we fought, argued, cursed and persevered. We still do. We winged it, took calculated risks along the way and made bad and good choices. We are living life. We are human first before we are business owners. Our perceived success has been ensuring an authentic experience for our patrons and clients and to make them feel at home.”
Hussain adds, “Look, with any new endeavour there are peaks and falls. It’s exactly like raising a child. Kit gloves and the right tools are needed to make the business work, along with good direction that has to be taken to support these gloves.”

Hussain enjoys physical activity and the outdoors and feels more alive when he explores it on his bike. “The great outdoors are what we humans were put on earth to explore. This is my very personal belief. It allows for physical and intellectual engagement with other people of common interests and even of the opposite mindset. I wouldn’t say it was one of the reasons why I started but it is perhaps a driving factor in keeping the experience authentic.”

He also believes that Fixin Diaries is doing so well because. “We want to focus on sharing lifestyle areas that are less common amongst the working-class in Soweto. We are building an international brand which will someday build its own bicycle parts and furnish people’s homes. We coupled the refurbishing business with giving different experiences of Soweto – but unlike how tourists are shown around the township. We also realised that we were also very comfortable in riding our bikes in style and that gave birth to the social cycling culture in Soweto.”

There’s a beauty about sharing similar social cultures with different parts of the world and forming beautiful connections made from all its corners. “Fishtail Rides is an international company based in Dubai that we are working with. We are the first brand in Africa to form the collaboration and host this series of rides alongside our friends from PUMA Lifestyle. We are currently working on a project with Fishtail Rides for this November and we are excited about it.”

Fixin Diaries emerged at the time when bicycles were becoming a popular mode of transport for social gatherings and the three partners knew this would happen. “There’s been a phenomenal growth in using bicycles as a mode of transport, especially in Soweto. My partners and I applaud each other every time we realise the magnitude and success of this movement. We’ve witnessed events that we’ve hosted bring between eighty to a hundred patrons respectively.”

Most recently, Ayanda Moholi, their social media guru, brought up an idea that included inviting more females to take part in their social bicycle rides. “We aimed the idea of hosting leisurely rides in Soweto for females because we realised that only a handful of ladies were riding along with us when we hosted the rides. That’s when we pioneered a bicycle ride event tailored specifically for them. We offered lessons to the ladies who weren’t as comfortable on bicycles but were keen to learn. The ladies came out and had fun with us and it was a great success.

With all the success and attention they’ve garnered thus far, Fixin Diaries still plan to achieve a vision far bigger than their current reality. “The ultimate vision is to industrialise the bicycle building production aspect for Fixin Diaries. We plan to strategically place it in the heart of Soweto, thus ensuring an industry shift to stabilise the business hub that Soweto is becoming and already is.”
Sometimes, ideas come as friends and it takes those who surround you to make you realise what’s always been there. When this happens, the moment may seem small until you start to appreciate it. Learning to trust your judgement is no easy feat because more often than not, we forget to listen with our minds.

Fixin Diaries is embodied by three adventurous partners who are visionaries and have turned their passion into a tangible dream. They’ve had the pleasure to reinvent and mould an idea when it mattered most and turned friends into social families that don’t discriminate. They are fun, free-spirited and most importantly; hardworking and unwavering in their pursuit.
To choose not recognise and admire his persona and distinction could only be foul play; because Hussain van Roos is a Playful entrepreneur who’s resilient, agile and takes nothing for granted in all that he does.

“Art is design in motion. Art is design, in design, with all kinds of design.” – Hussain van Roos

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