Simbongile Ndlangisa is making a name for herself in the creative industry running the operations of The Threaded Man.
AT JUST 23 years old, Wits University BA graduate Simbongile Ndlangisa is a shaker and mover as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of one of the biggest South African men’s fashion and lifestyle production agencies and online portal, The Threaded Man. Hailing from the ‘Friendly City’ of Port Elizabeth, Ndlangisa is already making a name for herself in the creative industry. She has done consultancy work for major clients like Woolworths and Edcon. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with the industry disruptor.
What is an average day like for you?
Mostly it’s comprised of reading and typing about 50 emails a day with client meetings and briefings in between, overseeing the content that goes onto all our digital platforms and team brainstorms for campaigns and projects that we are working on. It’s really as mundane as it sounds sometimes but being a lover of admin and getting things done, I take joy in being able to cross something off my lengthy to-do list.
What has been your most exciting, challenging and interesting project thus far?
It has to be being the Styling Coordinator for the  22nd Annual South African Music Awards (SAMA) – it was a huge project because we were brought in right from the creative conceptualisation phase and had an opportunity to creatively direct the look of everyone that would be on SAMA stage. We had never done wardrobe styling before and I think we were actually arrogant and crazy to accept the job but somehow we managed to pull it off with what looked like great ease from the outside. We worked with about five major brands, more than 10 South African designers, including Tuelo Nguyuza who made a dress in about 10 hours for a performer, less than 24 hours before the show, and it looked spectacular. That was the most challenging yet most rewarding project to date, I still get goosebumps about it.
What have you learnt after university that you never expected?
I have learnt that in the creative industry in South Africa, there are maybe two people out of 50 that care that you have a degree and where you got it from. People want to know and see what you can do –you have to prove why you’re where you are with your skills and not a glorified certificate.
What has been the most rewarding thing have you learnt about business so far?
That responding to a potential client timeously and with a good tone can literally be the difference between getting the contract and losing out on it. People really value genuine interactions and I will never forget that.
How did you start out at The Threaded Man to where you are in the company now?
I started as an intern at the digital agency that we were part owners of The Threaded Man and I used to help Siya Beyile (Founder and Creative Director) organise content for the website and social media platforms and being a media liaison. When Beyile bought out the partners, I quit my internship and opted to move with the company.
Who is your role model in life and what inspires you about them?
This question actually made me realise that I actually don’t have any noteworthy people I call role models. There are people that inspire me for different reasons, but I cannot pin point any few people and say that they have inspired me to do as they have done.
What is your philosophy in life?
Just get it done. Literally just working at doing things instead of saying that you will do them. My team knows I am all about seeing things being done and being done well.
How do you stay motivated?
I keep working – naturally the work that I do keeps me on my toes and I am literally always learning something. The people that I come across through work also keep me motivated to achieve everything that I set out to do. Side note: South Africa actually has a ton of talented and driven and young people who are getting shit done, it’s actually incredible.