The Bizniz Talk x Romeo Dibakwane

From a fashion model to a now business owner, Romeo Dibakwane tells all.

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The Bizniz Blog chats to Romeo Dibakwane, a 22-year-old South African fashion model signed to Lampost, an Architecture graduate, Transport and Supply Chain Management student and is also enrolled in an Artisan Programme, he is also the founder of a creative agency called MadeInRome (and we though we were the ones with a lot on our plate, yikes!). Romeo opens up about his childhood, work life and a little about his love life!

Courtesy of Romeo Dibakwane

So, who exactly is Romeo Dibakwane? Tell us a little more about the person you are today and what moulded you to become that said person.
The person I am today was moulded by struggle, friends and stories of people who have the same upbringing as me and I took those teachings to be my own.

How do your childhood and life experiences trickle down to your now choice in career?
My grandmother used to design Ndebele traditional clothes and she baked cakes with certain designs. I grew up with her majority of my life so I was her muse sometimes no matter if it’s female or male clothes. My love for visual arts and modeling come from her and she’s the biggest influence in my life.

Speaking of modeling, (it’s always refreshing seeing your face on campaigns btw) … what are 3 very important pointers you wished someone would’ve whispered in your ear before you entered the fashion model scene as a young queer black man?
That it was never going to be easy. That it needs determination and perseverance. The South African industry also works with connections hence networking is an important thing in South Africa.

Did you always want to be a model? In recent private conversations, it came out that you study architecture? What’s your plan with that?
Architecture is a form of art, that is what I saw while studying it. Its own movements coordinate with those of visual arts. The shapes, the spaces they all speak in a sense. My plan with architecture is to start my own company one day hence I’m doing logistics and studying to be an artisan so I have the whole spectrum of knowledge when it comes to building.

One thing that truly warms my heart is a young person with big plans! So, tell us more about MadeInRome, from being in front of the camera to being behind the scenes, what inspired you to take on a more creative directive role and what does your creative agency do that’s different from the rest?
MadeInRome has been something I’ve been thinking about ever since I started assisting on set and educating myself from how lighting works, creative directory, styling and set design. I knew nothing about those things. I had to encourage myself that for me to get better in this industry I have to know the full spectrum and it’s not like I can model until I’m 80 which I’d love but it’s unrealistic, so it’s also a means of securing other sectors to make money from. At my creative agency I’m a character by that I mean everything I’m good at in the entertainment industry is taken into account and from there they find me jobs where we (me and my agency) can make a living from it which is different and I love it.

Johannesburg is known to be the hub for young creatives, in your opinion what gap or opportunity do you think is essential to fill in a South African context. In other words, what’s missing from our creative space.
Give the kids jobs. To be frank we see the same faces everywhere immediately when they enter and they don’t make space for the younger creatives or even people that never made it. Sometimes that’s why it’s seen as a dead end of a career in terms of its a risk to enter this industry you’ll never know if you’ll make it in the industry or not . We can see that there’s limits to our entertainment industry and that why it’ll never reach Hollywood/European standards because of such greed.

I completely agree with you, but how many times will we sing the same song? I guess this is where creating our own brands comes in. As tough as building a brand from scratch is, it seems like a better option rather than waiting years for a company to see your potential. COVID-19 has also played a role in slowing down business activities (as well as creating new business opportunities), what’s something that you’ve learned or realised amidst the COVID-19 era about being a business owner?
Sometimes it’s not about singing the same song. As you might know I’m from one of the poverty stricken areas in SA, so for example a child with a dream of being a director can’t just up and start his own thing because cinematic equipment costs thousands of rands sometimes millions so those with privilege need to give those without an opportunity which is how most people in the industry get discovered cause no matter how much we might try to ignore it but our backgrounds has a hold on us. This year COVID-19 taught me that my investments had to go to parts of my business that make me money and not part I wanted to expand its a sad reality but it’s what majority of small businesses had to do without a choice.

Obviously, I have to be a little nosy. I’ve been living for the content you post of yourself and your boyfriend. What’s your take on building healthy relationships? And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your partner?
It’s not easy, it’s not like I live on a bed of roses. I just take it one day at a time there’s a saying that goes; “the first time you love someone it’s the honeymoon phase and to continue loving them after that it’s a choice cause you’ve seen every part of themselves”

Courtesy of Romeo Dibakwane

Be sure to show some love on Instagram: @romeo.mosa and @made.inrome for more creative content!

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