Cape Town-born Zaid Osman – the man guiding our four apprentices for the Chivas Venture in South Africa – knows the value of hard work. He made his way from humble beginnings mowing lawns and ploughing snow in Virginia, USA, on a mission to fund his burgeoning obsession with sneakers. This obsession spurred his inception of Africa’s largest sneaker expo Sneaker Exchange (SXC), luxury streetwear brand Grade Africa and recently, charity Grade Africa Foundation. With a serious passion for street culture shared by people who swarm to Sneaker Exchange in their thousands, Zaid isn’t afraid to hustle hard to make things happen.
Where did you start and how did you get here?
When we moved back to South Africa from the States people really took note of mine and my brothers’ fashion sense and asked where we got our gear, so I started importing street wear for them. I met a lot of the artists that are now big in South Africa and that relationship evolved from sourcing street wear and sneakers to me booking shows for them and that was the start of our role in creating and growing street culture.
What are some of the things that have inspired you on your journey?
I’ve been to various fashion shows across the world and while there I’ve thought, “Yo, I want more kids back home in South Africa to be able to see this. I want more people to experience what I’m experiencing right now”. It’s that, and being able to create opportunities for and empower the people in my community.
How do you get into your creative zone?
I normally get into my creative zone late at night when I’m able to have clear, uninterrupted thoughts. Often times I think of myself as a kid and just all of the crazy things I would imagine like a flying car, for example, and how that idea could be brought back into reality.
How have you navigated your way through rejection?
I’ve always managed to stay stronger than the rejection. I either let it be or move on, still maintaining belief in that concept or idea because I feel the world needs to see it. When I face rejection, the Wright brothers [the pioneers of aviation] come to mind. People doubted them and now, people are flying planes every day across the world!
How has your experience of the Chivas Venture been so far?
It’s been crazy, from meeting the most influential and well-respected fashion designers and frontrunners in the fashion industry to just getting to know the apprentices and giving them my knowledge; they’re four people from completely different backgrounds in South Africa. I’m still young and I’m able to tell them my story which will hopefully help them along their own journeys.
What is the most exciting part of the capsule collection for you?
Designing the capsule collection was definitely exciting, but I think the most exciting part is yet to come. This fashion show and the A Grade showcase is going be wild! It’s really going to be something that shifts the industry. With the Chivas Venture programme, we really need to be about empowerment; how do we create more opportunities for people locally and give people the room to really express themselves?
What’s your blend for success?
Success is about blending cultures. It’s about creating to benefit the world. It’s doing things that are going to empower people and future generations and creating opportunities. We really need to work together to make the world a better place and to me, that’s what success is.
Any tips for other hustlers?
Be honest. You know what you want to do and what you want to create so stick to your guns and create what you want to create. Anybody that comes along is coming along on your journey. Experiences open you up to networking opportunities. They open you up to seeing so many things in a different light. Hustle for experiences that are going to better your outlook on life. Be more open-minded and just go out there, because this is a new world that we’re creating and we’re leading it. So just HUSTLE!
Watch Zaid talk through his journey to success: