Siyabonga Beyile is the 23-year-old founder of The Threaded Man – Africa’s largest men’s fashion and lifestyle portal. In addition, The Threaded Man works with brands on communicating effectively with African millennials. Born on the 7th December 1993 in Cape Town, Siya attended Wynberg Boys’ High School on a Culture Scholarship. As an all-rounder he competed in sports such as rugby, hockey, and athletics, and was also heavily involved in cultural activities including the choir, debating and playing the trumpet and clarinet. After matriculating from Wynberg, Siya enrolled at Fashion School, LISOF, where he majored in Trends and Garment Construction. It was during this time that he launched The Threaded Man blog, to cater to African men’s fashion. Due to financial reasons, Siya was forced to abandon his studies but this motivated him to focus on creating a business out of his blog. Even though Siya was told by many people that his business idea wouldn’t work, he persisted and built up his credibility through positions as an intern with numerous respected names in the fashion and lifestyle space. With the rapid growth of The Threaded Man on social media, Siya was approached by a private investor Sylvia Schutte, from full-service communication agency Stratitude. She saw a future for The Threaded Man and began mentoring Siya. September 2016 Siya bought out his business partners and he now owns 100 percent of the business.The Threaded Man has evolved into a portal for men’s fashion, with a team that consults for major brands; Adidas, Stuttafords, American Swiss, TITAN watches, H&M, SAB, and Pandora to name a few. The Threaded Man also has a styling department, styling TV productions and TV performers including Nomuzi Mabena, DJ MsCosmo, Khuli Chana and Somizi Mhlongo. This year, at age 22, Siya was appointed as the Fashion Director for the South African Music Awards & The MTV Africa Music Awards.
Forbes Africa has recently announced Siya as one of Africa’s 30 under 30 for 2016, GQ has named him as one of the 7 leading voices of African men’s fashion, he featured as part of the top 50 best-dressed men in South Africa, and he has appeared in various publications such as The Times, Cape Argus, GQ UK and America. In addition, Siya was selected as one of 5 South Africans to attend The Meeting of the Minds: South Africa’s Enterprising Next Generation conference in New York City. While there, The Threaded Man partnered with NYC based agency Ndosi Strategies, to help establish an office in New York which has seen him grab international brands as clients and also becoming part of the Global fashion circuit. Siya Beyile is also a budding public speaker!
Despite the profound excerpt of Siya’s bio, we went on to have a chat with him and here’s how it went.
Who is Siya Beyile?
Siya Beyile is a proudly African entrepreneur, who wants the African child to have a global platform.
How did the concept of The Treaded Man come about?
The concept was inspired by my culture, IsiXhosa and my School Wynberg Boys High. Those 2 backgrounds taught me the importance of being modern but making sure I infuse my culture and where I come from. On a business level, there was a gap in the market, there was no black owned fashion and lifestyle portal that was a true reflective of the Africa Millennial.
What was your mission at the outset?
My mission was to provide a platform for black creatives who want to tell authentic stories through fashion.
The fashion industry is big, what made you stand out?
Authenticity, we never pretended to be experts. We presented the vision and people resonated with it.
To what do you attribute your success?
My Mother: She is my best friend and greatest advisor. Simbongile Ndlangisa is the chief of operations in the company, I have known her since grade 10 (age 16). She is the heart that makes my company beat, we have a great relationship that is built on trust and friendship.
My brothers: They are always there to motivate me no matter what, sometimes I feel like they are my twins. My best friends: I have the most amazing friends who keep me humble and focused. Majority of my friends are not in the spotlight which helps because they always take me out of the industry mindset.
According to you, what is the most essential attribute of an entrepreneur?
Faith and determination, being an entrepreneur is crazy because essentially we are taking our dreams and making them a reality and the journey towards that is not easy because not everyone sees the vision. Successful entrepreneurs have faith and determined to make their dream a success no matter what the challenges are. To do this, you need to have faith and determination because that’s the feeling that keeps you going during tough times.
What do you think about the culture of reading in black African communities?
I think it’s getting better, more and more people are reading. As young Africans, we are realizing that there’s a lot we need to learn and we are seeking that knowledge.
How has reading assisted you in your journey?
Reading has saved me and my company a couple of times from a legal perspective but also I am always researching so reading helps me stay innovative because I’m constantly inspired by what I read. I’m currently obsessed and inspired by Rumi ‘s work.
Being an entrepreneur is crazy because essentially we are taking our dreams and making them a reality and the journey towards that is not easy because not everyone sees the vision.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your journey?
Buying out my business partners last year, that was tough because a lot was at stake and I never at 22 could carry such an intense and costly transaction.
How does one become the family of The Treaded Man?
The moment you realize as a black child that you are important and you can change the world. Being The Threaded Man is also a mindset more than how you dress. It’s about being young, black and being proud of who you are and realizing you have so much to offer the world. You do not have to dim your light, you should shine bright and beam.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and put yourself on because no one else will do it for you.