Mbaliyekhethelo is a business owner, digital content creator, social media strategist & manager, bedroom DJ and podcaster extraordinaire. She tells us her story from selling lollipops from her school blazer pocket to running her own successful business.
“As a child, I knew that I was always business minded when I sold lollipops and sherbet from my blazer pocket. I did so fearlessly, knowing very well that I may just break even, enabling me to buy just enough stock to carry over, or I would make a profit and I would have a little bit more money to buy myself something nice to eat from the school tuck shop. Sometimes I wouldn’t even make enough sales because the market became saturated with other sellers. My ambition didn’t end in the corridors of my high school as I carried over this mindset.
Fast forward to the end of my matric year when I was offered a partial scholarship to play soccer in Cyprus, to which I declined due to financial constraints. I still needed to get a qualification however, not just any conventional business degree but one that encompasses my passion for creativity, technology and all things business. I had weighed out the options of either studying a BA in Fine Arts or a BCom degree.
It was my luck that AFDA was launching a brand new BCom degree in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the course cost the equivalent to BA in Fine Arts if you including art supplies that I would need for the year. I think it’s pretty obvious which one I chose.
The AFDA Business Innovation and Technology School (BIT) really pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in ways I never thought an institution could, with the freedom to be creative whilst using higher-order critical thinking skills in order to be a top tier innovator.
I started venturing out into building the foundation of my business from the moment I arrived in first year, and the moment I sat down in those lecture rooms with Matt Glogauer, my business adjusted and pivoted at least 2 or 3 times. Shortly after, Chosen Flower Collections was founded.
My name is Mbaliyekhethelo Nhlanhlazonke Lwazilonke Kumalo which means Chosen Flower with all the Luck and Knowledge. Some people know me as Mbali, others know me as Lwazi. I am a Queer, Gender non-binary, Digital Content Creator, Social Media Strategist & Manager, a bedroom DJ and a podcast extraordinaire. My pronouns are They/Them.
My company is Chosen Flower Collections (PTY) Ltd which specializes in Digital Brand Development & Management – Design and Strategization, as well as our absolute favourite, Podcast Digitization & Distribution.
I have had the honour of working with and developing brands such as Flying House, The Wildness with Tiff & Manda – which was voted one of the Top 30 Podcasts to listen to in Africa, as well as Kiri Pink Nob Productions, where our team won the Gold Ovation award at the National Arts Festival 2018 for J Bobs Live: Off the Record. I have had the privilege of meeting and collaborating with 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Visual Arts, Gabrielle Goliath as well as growing and learning from 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Theatre, Jefferson Tshabalala.
I have featured in a couple of exhibitions, HOLAAfrica’s HOLA and Engage website launch, Giving Poetry Wings 1st Edition in Makhanda as part of the National Arts Festival #Creativate and a recent one that will be happening on 1st of November 2020, called Moxie LIVE! where I will be sharing art, poetry and creative writing whilst battling mental health during a pandemic.
I am an activist, a published author, a self-taught illustrator and designer, an award winning photographer with a flair for life and passion for adventure and new experiences.
When your dreams and goals are on the line, it’s okay to mess up because “You owe your dreams your courage” – Koleka Putuma. AFDA taught me that failure, falling, struggling is just an obstacle that you can overcome.”
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YouTube: Mbali Sunflower Kumalo