SNEAK PEEK :Patricia Sibanda
SOUTH AFRICA-BASED Zimbabwean fashion designer and Khwampa brand owner, Romeo Gumede (RG) has added to his line the production of sanitisers following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The 35-year-old fashionista says the virus has caused mayhem across the world and he believes that the only way to keep safe is to sanitise hands all the time. NewsDay Life & Style Reporter Patricia Sibanda (ND) recently caught up with Gumede who spoke about his experiences in the fast lane of fashion and his entrepreneurship journey.
ND: Can you tell us more about yourself. Who is Romeo?
RG: Romeo Gumede is a gentleman doing business in South Africa focusing on branding clothes, manufacturing fragrances and branded water. ‘Khwampa’ which is derived from a Ndebele word ‘Khonaphana’ meaning right there, hence it is a statement of pride about where a person comes from.
ND: Who assisted you financially to start your projects?
RG: I personally funded the projects from my own pocket, hence I started small, sold whatever I had and invested the profits into the business. I have managed to grow big in this line of business and many people including celebrities have not stopped coming for more.
ND: Looking at your current project focusing on sanitisers, what made you decide to create something to do with saving lives?
RG: It was not really something I thought about and said to myself, you know what; l am going this direction, no. But l was just trying to solve a problem that people are facing which is having a hand sanitiser at all times during these hard times.
ND: What is different about this project compared to others that you are working on?
RG: We as Khwampha Brands are famous for numerous projects which mainly focus on fashion, like I said before and all those were profit-making ventures, but with the hand sanitisers, it is a different case because they are distributed to save lives at a time of panic like this hence when one has one it gives them the peace of mind knowing they have protection right inside their pockets.
ND: What was your budget for this particular hand sanitiser project?
RG: I started the hand sanitiser project on a very small budget roughly R1 000 and I personally made a homemade alcohol-based disinfectant, The motivation was the current COVID-19 which is causing havoc across the globe and the only way to keep yourself safe is to sanitise hands at all times, among other habits. Some time back, when I visited the shops to get myself some sanitisers, they all had been sold out so I had to make one. I realised that there are thousands of other people who are in the same situation as me so I just went on with it and made more, packaged it in small 50ml bottles for it to reach many people.
ND: How has the distribution been so far?
RG: I will admit l did not think it was going to be this huge. I am getting requests from many individuals and companies, but we are taking it one day at a time and we are trying by all means to get it to as many people as possible. Big companies have ordered from me, but the only problem is they are requesting ridiculously huge amounts that l cannot offer at this stage, my concern is the individuals who really need them.
ND: Is it a long-term project or is it just there just to deal with the COVID-19 crisis?
RG: It’s definitely long term; hopefully after the craze dies down, Khwampha, will still be a brand name people trust and want to continue using.
ND: What has been the feedback from the people who have used the product?
RG: People are thankful they can access the product at such a time. Some have asked for partnerships so that they can distribute on their own as the product is on demand. It’s been really amazing the way people are demanding more of it.