Thobo Kerekang and Donald Nnoto – an attorney and soldier respectively – are the brains behind KeNo Custom Suits.
The fast-growing brand, which currently has over 53, 000 followers on their Facebook page, specialises in tailor-made suits.
Q. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
Thobo Kerekang: At around 8 years old, selling sweets and biscuits, ‘maquality’, with my cousins to raise extra cash.
Donald Nnoto: I tried a Property Maintenance Company – I tried it and it failed!
Q. What do you wish you knew before you started your first business?
Kerekang: It takes a lot of character to run, maintain and manage a business, a lot happens behind what people see.
Nnoto: Its important to have the right partner!
Q. What did you learn from your biggest failure?
Kerekang: Failure should not define who you are but instead should mould you!
I learnt to pick the right time; people on the same wave length as me.
Nnoto: Proper record keeping is crucial!
Q. How do you find inspiration?
Kerekang: It depends what kind of inspiration – the most common: music (sometimes even at work) reading, meaningful conversations, inspirational videos (currently TD Jakes ‘Let It Go Series’).
Nnoto: The prospect of growing my family keeps me inspired to work hard.
Q. How did you start Keno Custom Suit?
Kerekang: I have always been a lover of fashion and looking good, which I got from my mother and also being a lawyer had me wearing suits all the time – suits made sense to me.
I partnered up with Donald and the rest is history.
Nnoto: The idea was triggered by a comment made on a photo I uploaded on Facebook by someone saying they could just buy my clothes if I had a clothing line because I make clothes look good.
That same weekend, on a drive with Thobo I told him about it and he got excited and said he had always wanted to have a clothing line and we decided to be partners.
Q. How do you balance your jobs and business?
Nnoto: Balancing work, business and family is not easy, I have to admit! Passion makes the dream work.
We have a dedicated team that works full time so we don’t spend our time there.
We are available to them on weekends and only consulted when necessary.
Q. Five things people don’t know about you?
- We are planning on opening up KeNo Custom Suits in the rest of Africa
- The name KeNo is our surnames ‘Kerekang-Nnoto’ combined
- We have a branch in Lusaka, Zambia
- We are launching our Spring Collection soon
- We do ladies suits as well