Osar and Scelo on motivation, and creating their own space.
It’s quite reasonable to assume that anyone that has ever initiated something that they deem as big or important understands that, in Joburg, the mission is to never just survive, but to thrive.
As you’re consumed in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of the city and you watch a string of successes and failures at the expense of your peers, it’s not unusual to feel an unsettling sense of responsibility: responsibility to, firstly, get your own work on par, as well as responsibility to hopefully create something bigger than you initially set out to create, which would ultimately be the cornerstone of your ineradicable legacy.
This is where Oscar Guma and Scelo Khuboni come in: natural born hustlers and owners of clothing label OMG Wear which is a complete embodiment of the grind. OMG is the brainchild of a 14 year-old Oscar finding an alternative and more productive way of spending his detention hours, which eventually led to the mound of ideas that would see the creation of his own clothing brand. “I didn’t have a signature so I was just going to play around and get my own personal signature,” he explains. “Initially it was actually my initials. So I was writing OMG, and that’s how I came up with it. If you do research on OMG, you’ll find that [on] our first design, the letters are actually joined.”
From your better known Christian Diors to your less well-known self-titled clothing brands, there has never really been any serious evidence proving using your own name as your brands name to be any more or less beneficial. Some may see the move as an attempt to gain some personal fame, while others may see it as showing the world what you have to offer and proudly stating it. However, on closer inspection the OMG Wear team admittedly saw room for potential setbacks to arise in this and from his initials, there was a change. Scelo puts it simply: “Basically, we didn’t want to use his name. That’s it. We were like ‘Nah, it’s not going to work out there, no-one wants to wear a t-shirt with your name on it.’ But then people needed to know what OMG stands for. We needed to give ourselves an identity. So, we picked something that everyone is doing and that appeals to everyone, which is the grind.” We can all relate to this.
It was underneath the M1 at the Back To The City clothing stalls where I met the two entrepreneurs. We briefly discussed the hip-hop scene and a year and a half later, we reconnected to discuss how the brand has evolved and what On My Grind now has to offer. Apart from dope clothing, their biggest offering has been a good dose of inspiration. “The idea, here, is that we are young, we own our own company, and we’re doing what we like but we’re working towards our dreams and goals,” says Oscar, who is the founder of the brand. “And that’s an idea that we, just as a company, need to spread: the idea that you can actually work for yourself; you can have your own thing. As much as there’s nothing wrong with having a job and some people are happy with their jobs, there’s a lot of people who are unhappy with their jobs, and I feel like you could be doing so much more if you’re doing something that you love and that’s the idea we’re trying to spread, especially in South Africa. Instead of saying you can’t get a job, why don’t you create your own job? Why don’t you work towards building your company? I think that sets us apart from any other clothing brand, because you look at any other clothing brand [and] there is no social message that they might have, but that’s what we have.”
Being in an industry with huge brands is understandably daunting, and proving your clothing’s worth to people that don’t necessarily know about the brand may add to the stress and attempting to keep your company running in addition to both facets may make the journey even more unfavourable. But, the uniquness of this company comes in the messages that they push, and maintaining their positive spirits about their constantly improving work, they say that it’s all a part of the game. “Sometimes you won’t get your stock on time, and sometimes our printing may come out wrong. Similarly with events, we plan them certain ways, and then they come out another way on the day,” Scelo explains, to which Oscar then adds, “The cool thing would probably be that we’re still new. Every mistake that we make or every error that happens is a learning experience. Everything we’ve done this year has been new to us, like the event. None of us do event management. With experience, we always grow.”
And grow they did, while highlighting their ability to be fully independent. OMG Wear has had a good 2015. From hosting their first event ever, to “taking gambles” and selling merchandise at Wits’ O-Week and OppiKoppi, which both eventually turned out to be successes, and to even collaborating with graphic designer Oh Yes Lord, and although there isn’t a store set up yet, it’s coming. “Everything is locally produced. We do our own distribution. We’re focusing more on cutting the middle-man out until we can get our own store running.”
“Our main aim is to take over our country first because we want to be good at home.”
There’s such little that’s more beautiful than the grind. Support the culture. Support local. To cop some OMG threads, email them at OMGWEAR07@gmail.com or alternatively, contact them on Twitter.